heart shaped diamond

The Ultimate Symbol of Love

Heart cut diamonds are very popular as the shape is often associated with love and all things romantic. For people who are considering getting one, the appeal and marketability of the heart shaped diamond is like a double incentive.

It’s no surprise that this particular shape is a very popular choice for anniversary gifts and engagement rings. After all, diamonds in and of themselves symbolize love, and so does the heart.

When a heart brilliant diamond is cut well, it can display a balanced scintillation pattern and project huge amounts of fire. However, the truth is that the majority of diamonds are cut to dismal proportions and often have lack luster appearances. In fact, the heart shaped diamond can be considered the most challenging to purchase.

Why so? Unlike round brilliant cuts where you could rely on cut grading assessments (e.g. an excellent cut or a very good cut rating) found in a gemological lab report, there is no such information available when it comes to fancy cuts.

But don’t worry, I am going to show you how to sieve through the “bad” choices and cherry pick your diamond. For an easier reference, I had broken down my guide to buying heart shaped diamonds into 4 main sections. They are “general tips and recommended proportions” (this is the page you are reading now), “symmetry and shape appeal“, “girdle thickness insights” and lastly, “where to buy“.

Without further ado, let’s get things started…

Recommended Proportions for Heart Cut Diamonds

Excellent Very Good Good Fair/Poor
Table % 56% – 62% 54% – 64% 53% – 66% Outside Ranges
Depth % 58% – 62% 56% – 65% 55% – 67% Outside Ranges
Polish/Symmetry Excellent – Very Good Good Outside Ranges
Length to Width 0.95 – 1.05 0.90 – 1.10 0.85 – 1.15 Outside Ranges
Girdle Thickness V. Thin – Slightly Thick V. Thin – Thick Outside Ranges
Culet Size None Very Small Small Outside Ranges

* Note: This table of recommended proportions should be used only as a reference when you are selecting a heart brilliant cut. It serves as a useful tool to help you weed out the “bad” diamonds. A video or real life inspection combined with corresponding ASET images should always take priority over the numbers found in a grading report.

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Tip #1 – Color Grades for a Heart Shaped Diamond to Face Up White

Heart shaped diamonds tend to retain body color; especially near the pointed tip. If you are color sensitive, I would recommend at least a G color grade from a respectable lab like GIA. For larger stones above 1 carat sizes, you would probably need an F or better color rating.

If your personal preference lies with warmer looking stones or if you decide to set your diamond on a yellow gold ring, it would be OK to select diamonds from the near colorless or faint yellow range (H-K grades). The good news is that going lower with color would also save you a tidy sum of cash too.

Tip #2 – Clarity Grade for Eye-cleanliness

Due to the heart shaped diamond’s inherent cutting style, inclusions and material flaws tend to show up easily. Generally, I would recommend that you don’t to go lower a SI1 grade if you want an eye-clean diamond.

That said, eye-cleanliness is a very subjective issue that varies between different people. While I am a trained grader and have an eagle eye for details, it doesn’t mean everyone has the same capacity as me. Likewise, 20 years down the road when I get older and my eyesight deteriorates, most SI2s would probably look eye-clean to me by that time.

si2 heart brilliant

The majority of SI2 heart cut diamonds like this 0.73 carat stone aren’t eyeclean.

Note: Whether you are buying online or in a local store, you should always inspect the stone under magnification. If you must make a purchasing decision based solely on a grading report, never go below VS2 and make sure that the vendor has a great return policy.

Tip #3 – Ideal Length to Width Ratios

In my opinion, the optimal length to width ratio for a heart brilliant should be between 0.90 and 1.10 as this is the range that really showcases its outline. However, if you have a personal preference for “longer and thinner” appearances, by all means buy one with a larger l/w ratio.

length to width ratios of heart cut diamonds

Tip #4 – Ditch the Local Stores And Go Online for Better Selections

Know that most brick and mortar stores carry a limited inventory of heart shaped diamonds due to its “exotic” nature. Even if stores do carry the fancy cut, the available stock are typically above one carat sizes.

If your budget is constrained to buying smaller sized diamonds (e.g. 0.6 or 0.7 carats), be prepared to know that your available selections would be even more limited. In this case, venturing online to get your diamond like what I did would be a far better option.

Tip #5 – SIZE is Crucial in Heart Shaped Diamonds

When shopping for a heart shaped diamond, I generally don’t recommend stones that are less than half a carat (0.50) in size. Let’s face the fact: the primary purpose of buying a fancy cut is for its distinctive shape and outline. In my opinion, I feel that the diamond’s outline will be difficult to perceive if it is too small.

Bear in mind that once the diamond is mounted on a ring, the prongs will cover up more areas of its surface. This makes smaller heart shaped diamonds less visually appealing. In most cases, the heart outline becomes distorted and looks more like an out-of-shaped round instead.

heart shaped diamond smaller than 0.5 carats on a ring
heart shaped diamond with 0.70 carat weight
1.80 carat heart shaped diamond ring

From left to right: 0.47 carats – 0.70 carats – 1.83 carats

The examples above should give you a better visual perspective of carat sizes on various ring setting designs. When a ring is worn on the finger and viewed from a normal distance of 10″ to 12″, the outline of a small solitaire heart diamond will not be obvious.

Tip #6 – Proper Choice of Ring Setting

A typical ring setting would require at least 4 prongs to hold the stone securely and an additional v-shaped prong to protect the vulnerable tip. Bezel settings are also great choices for heart shaped diamonds as they emphasize shape and offer additional protection.

For diamonds smaller than 0.50 carats, a 3 prong setting (one prong on each lobe and a v-tip) would be sufficient. Otherwise, there will be too much metal covering the small diamond and result in an overwhelmed outlook.

bezel setting for heart cut diamond

The bezel setting at its best!

Up next, you will learn how a diamond’s symmetry can be correlated to its outline. You will also find out what are the common mistakes people make when shopping for an engagement ring and how you can avoid them…

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