Jewelry Guide

Hearts and Arrows Diamonds – A Comprehensive (Simplified) Guide

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When it comes to colorless diamonds, cut quality is a critical factor that can make or break a stone. For most consumers, buying a well-cut diamond with sparkle is sufficient, but there are those that want to go beyond this, into the realm of super-ideal diamonds. These diamonds are known for their brilliance and fire, their exceptional cut and higher cost. These are known as Hearts and Arrows diamonds.

The question is:

Are Hearts and Arrow diamonds worth the hype and should you pay the mark up for them?

In this guide, we cover everything you need to know if you’re thinking of buying one of these exceptional diamonds.

Looking for Exceptional Cut Quality

For colorless diamonds, the quality of the cut is the most important factor to take into account. This overrides the other C’s such as color, carat weight and clarity.

There are many specifications involved when evaluating cut quality. Most people neither understand nor care about all the details involved when considering cut, but what they do care about is how well the diamond will sparkle.

Diamond-cut-specifications

Just a few things to take into account when considering the quality of diamond cut.

It can be difficult to assess the brilliance of a diamond because there is a large spectrum between an exceptionally brilliant and a lifeless diamond. Labs such as the GIA and the AGS have their distinct cut grades, with excellent / ideal cut grade diamonds displaying sufficient sparkle.

AGS diamond cut scale

AGS Cut Scale
GIA diamond cut scale

GIA Cut Scale

But for those who want more, there’s another range of diamonds to explore, which go beyond the best grades that these labs offer. These are known as the Hearts and Arrows diamonds.  

What is a Hearts and Arrows Diamond?

Hearts and Arrows refers to diamonds that show certain distinct patterning. Take a look at the diamond below.

Hearts and arrows round cut diamond

You’ll notice that there is a clear pattern of 8 arrows pointing away from the center on the crown of the diamond (crown refers to the top or face up view). If you turned the diamond over and observed it from the pavilion side, you would notice that there is a pattern of 8 hearts pointing inwards. These hearts and arrows have to be of exacting precision with certain criteria to meet, in order to be considered perfect.

This is where the term Hearts and Arrows comes from – it refers to the distinct pattern of Hearts and Arrows on exceptionally cut diamonds.

Hearts and Arrows were first observed about 40 years ago when diamonds were examined under a special scope invented in Japan. As diamond cutting techniques became more advanced and sophisticated, the pattern of hearts and arrows on the diamond became more pronounced and distinct.

Do Hearts and Arrows Make a Diamond More Brilliant?

If a diamond exhibits a clear pattern of Hearts and Arrows, this means that it has exceptional symmetry and proportions, which are naturally essential factors for a diamond with great cut. However, this does not mean that every brilliant diamond is a Hearts and Arrows diamond. There are some diamonds that that have stunning brilliance but their Hearts and Arrows patterning could be underwhelming.

So what this means is that Hearts and Arrows are not the reason that a diamond gets its brilliance. To put it another way, a diamond is not brilliant simply because it has this patterning. On the contrary, Hearts and Arrows are simply the result of a well-cut diamond.

When shopping for a super ideal diamond, it’s important to carefully assess the Hearts and Arrows diamonds that retailers stock. Because most people believe that Hearts and Arrows correlates to perfectly brilliant diamonds, some diamond cutters simply try to cut this pattern onto the diamond without concern of the light performance. The result? A diamond that displays Hearts and Arrows but may not have the light performance expected.

So the bottom line?

Look for a well cut, brilliant diamond rather than simply for Hearts and Arrows when searching for a super-ideal diamond. If the cut is perfect, chances are the Hearts and Arrows patterning will be perfect too.

To make sure that you aren’t being taken on a ride, request specific information from your retailer (more on this below) that will help you to determine if the diamond is actually worth the hype.

Are Hearts and Arrows the Same as Ideal / Excellent Cut Diamonds?

Many consumers believe that if a diamond is an Ideal cut, it must display the much sought after Hearts and Arrows pattern. But this is not true.

First, to clarify any misconceptions, an Ideal cut rating is given by the AGS while the Excellent cut rating is on the GIA’s cut scale. These are the two highly recognized labs for diamond grading and it is these that we’ll be taking into account.

For a diamond to be called a true Hearts and Arrows stone, the cut quality goes beyond the Ideal / Excellent rating. This is a beyond perfect stone – hence the term sometimes used to describe Hearts and Arrows diamonds: Super Ideal.

The diamond below shows a clear pattern of arrows gracing the crown. On first glance, it looks like a perfect pattern, but a second look shows that the patterning is not in perfect symmetry. There are inconsistencies to the arrows and the proportion is not perfect. This is an Excellent cut diamond from the GIA.

excellent-cut-diamond

James Allen Excellent Cut Diamond. See this diamond here

Why are Hearts and Arrows Diamonds More Expensive?

Hearts and Arrows diamonds always come at a premium. They are often thousands of dollars more expensive than their excellent cut counterparts. Here are two diamonds that have similar specifications, this one is a Hearts and Arrows diamond and the other is an excellent cut diamond. The difference in price? Almost $5000!

Part of the reason for this high price is due to clever marketing and the emotional appeal of the Hearts and Arrows diamonds.

However, it’s also because these diamonds are very rare and are often the cream of the crop. Getting that perfect pattern on the diamond by impeccable cutting is no mean feat and is a laborious and time-consuming effort.  It is a work of art. This reflects in the price of these diamonds.

How to Evaluate and Buy an H&A Diamond

Many people have misconceptions when it comes to Hearts and Arrows diamonds. Simply because a diamond appears to have a clear pattern of hearts and arrows doesn’t mean that it is of high value or has the best brilliance.

When you’re looking for a Hearts and Arrows diamond, there are several factors to take into account. Now, not everyone will care about all this criteria, but considering that you will be paying a premium for the cut of the diamond, it makes sense to pay attention to these factors.

Hearts and Arrows are viewed using special equipment that use colored reflectors to show the pattern of light performance of the diamond. These tools include H&A viewers like this one and ASET and Ideal scope equipment.

The retailer you opt to purchase from should provide all this information prior to purchase, so that you can make an informed choice regarding the diamond. The screenshot below taken from Brian Gavin shows the information that is provided with each diamond by this specific retailer.

H&A diamond

Retailers should provide sufficient information about each diamond for the consumer to make an informed choice. See Brian Gavin’s H&A diamonds here.

What these images and information allows you to do is to evaluate how well the diamond retains light, how much light is being leaked from the stone and the optical symmetry of the diamond. Depending on the viewing device, the color schemes of these images can vary, but the overall patterns remain the same.

When purchasing, another important factor is to ensure that the diamond you choose has a certificate from a recognized diamond grading lab. Although there are many grading labs out there, not all have the same standards. The AGS and the GIA are two labs that have stringent standards and grading criteria and we recommend purchasing diamonds that come lab reports from one of these two labs.

A point to note is that GIA does not recognize Hearts and Arrows as an aspect of the cut grading although AGS does grade optical patterns. Part of the reason is because it’s still unclear whether H&A patterns actually make a difference to the appearance of the diamond.

Another step to take is to view the stone with an H&A viewer. This will allow you to see the patterns for yourself and to note any inconsistencies.

Always opt to buy such an important purchase from a reputable and trustworthy source. If you take your search online, you’ll be able to access competitive prices and a large range of H&A diamonds.

What’s the Appeal of Hearts and Arrows Diamonds?

An H&A diamond is not essential to obtain a highly brilliant diamond. You can still find a perfect stone without the H&A patterning.

However, for some people, H&A diamonds represent the best. It can appear as the cream of the crop, the best of the best. And if budget is not an issue, there is no reason not to consider one of these beautiful diamonds.

Another factor is the romantic appeal of Hearts and Arrows diamonds. Say hearts and arrows and what comes to mind? Romance, love, Cupid, desire…

cupid-heart-arrow

With its obvious connection to Cupid, Hearts and Arrows diamonds have become an attractive option, especially for engagement rings. However, if you’re taken by this idea, note that once the diamond is set in its setting, you will not be able to see the hearts side of the diamond as that will be hidden in the setting. 

Hearts and arrows diamond engagement ring in halo setting

Hearts and Arrows diamond halo engagement ring from Brian Gavin. See it here.

Why Buy a Hearts and Arrows Diamond?

Hearts and Arrows diamonds are not for everybody, but they do have their benefits. Here are three reasons to buy one of these diamonds:

  • H&A represents the excellence in the craftsmanship of the diamond. There is a certain prestige in owning one of these diamonds, knowing that it has been precision cut to the highest standards.
  • The emotional connection of the tiny hearts in the diamond, even though these will be invisible once the stone is mounted, is one that appeals to many people.
  • An H&A diamond is the result of perfectly cut facet design. This in turn results in the maximizing of the diamonds light performance, producing a stone that is supremely brilliant and fiery.
  •  When viewing one of these diamonds, the symmetry and proportion provides a beauty that we naturally react to. Psychological studies have shown that we react to perfect patterns rather than haphazard designs. This is present in the natural environment where mirror images and perfect symmetry abound.

Where to Buy Hearts and Arrows Diamonds

While almost all retailers have their signature brand of Hearts and Arrows diamonds, not all are created equally. It’s best to take each diamond on a case by case basis and to observe for quality prior to purchase. After all, every diamond is different from the other.

  • James Allen’s True Hearts collection feature their H&A range, and often come with a 25% off the price of the setting.
  • Brian Gavin also have several excellent diamond collections that feature Hearts and Arrows diamonds.
  • Whiteflash is known in the business for their superior cut quality and for always pushing the boundaries of cut quality.
  • Blue Nile’s Astor Ideal collection feature some stunning H&A diamonds at competitive prices.

As with anything, do your own research, carefully inspect the diamond in question and ensure that it meets the standards you would expect of a true Hearts and Arrows diamond. For more information about each of the above retailers, check out our individual reviews or for a quick comparison, check out our article on their pros and cons here.

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