Notice the bowties in the different fancy shape diamonds above?
Ideally, a diamond should reflect every ray of light that enters through its table facet back through it. However, not every stone is cut perfectly and when we speak of diamonds with a poor make, we usually think of light leakage through the sides or the bottom of the stone.
In this write up, you are going to find out what a diamond bow-tie is and what are the things to look out for when buying a fancy cut diamond. Let’s dive in…
This pear cut diamond spots a very significant bowtie across its body.
A diamond bow-tie is a darkened area that runs across the width of the diamond’s body and the phenomenon resembles a man’s bowtie.
The degree of the bow tie effect has a direct relationship with one of the most important diamond characteristic – cut. When there are facets that do not reflect light properly regardless of the direction you turn or tilt the diamond, this phenomenon can manifest.
Unlike other common cut related problems, the bow tie effect is not caused by light leakage. Instead, it is created due to light obstruction when you are viewing the stone.
I know this may sound strange and you might be wondering why the process of viewing a diamond can be responsible for creating the bowtie.
You see, when an observer looks at a diamond, light rays traveling to the stone are shielded by the human head. This obstruction creates the dark looking shadows that get reflected within the stone.
While it is possible for cutters to eliminate and lessen the intensity of bow ties, it isn’t as straightforward as you think it is. Basically, a cutter cannot just say “I am going to cut here or there, because I do not want a bow tie in this stone”.
The entire process is a lot more delicate than that as it is determined by a whole range of angles.
First and foremost, the skill and experience of the cutter play a large role in this aspect. On top of that, when cutters are working with the affected shapes (pears, ovals, marquises and hearts), they are also faced with other considerations and constraints for profitability.
For instance, it may not be economically viable for them to polish a diamond at the expense of losing too much weight from the rough. Also, if there is an unsightly inclusion in a particular area of the rough stone, the cutter may choose to take corrective actions to remove it at the expense of ideal facet proportions.
In order to minimize the bowtie effect, the cutter has to carefully design the stone and take into account every possible angle that might yield unwanted results.
And because there is always a priority to maximize profitability instead of polishing away additional rough material for a well-proportioned diamond, the market is filled with plenty of mediocrely cut diamonds with different types of appearances.
This marquise is well cut for light performance and the bowtie adds a dimension of scintillation.
Fancy cut diamonds like marquise and ovals will typically have some degree of a bow-tie. Those without a bow-tie usually lack brightness and tend to look dull. In fact, a slight bowtie can actually give fancy shaped diamonds a sexy appeal and define the diamond’s character.
What you want to avoid are diamonds with bowties that are so prominent/wide that they black out a huge area on the stone. This negatively affects the diamond’s appearance and I will show you some real-life examples of such stones in a moment.
On this note, I also want to offer you a word of caution here. I have had experiences with jewelers who had the cheek to tell me diamonds with dark bowties are actually more appealing and dark bowties are inevitable in fancies.
It’s not true. Very often, unethical jewelers are willing to say anything to market their wares and attempt to offload poorly cut diamonds onto unsuspecting consumers.
The bow tie effect is a tricky property to deal with because the grading report makes no mention of it. There isn’t any indication of whether a diamond displays a “small bow tie” or “big bow tie”.
So, if you are going to make a diamond purchase based solely on a grading report, you might easily end up with a diamond with an unwanted bowtie effect and an inferior cut.
If your jeweler isn’t able to provide you with any visual data of the diamond and wants you to commit to a purchase (e.g. asking you to pay a deposit to view a diamond), you have to be extremely careful and walk away.
Think about it, if the vendor had never seen the diamonds themselves, how would you expect them to tell you if there are any potential problems with the diamond?
So, what’s the best solution? Your own eyes!
And that’s the reason why I recommend shopping for fancy shape diamonds at vendors like James Allen and Blue Nile. Their video listings enable you to accurately assess the degree of bow-ties via visual inspection.
Once you head over to James Allen, you’ll find out for yourself why it is so much easier to shop for a diamond there.
Check out these diamonds with their respective photographs that depict desirable and undesirable bow-tie effects. You will see why I love the use of images and videos as they can explain everything far better than what words can do.
Do click on the images and interact with the video listings for yourself!
Avoid diamonds with appearances like this!
These are the types of diamonds I would recommend buying.
The first thing you can do is to use the search filter tool to narrow down your choices.
Next, you can inspect the diamonds one at a time by viewing the videos at your own leisure and away from a sales environment. You could shortlist the diamonds you like and then cherry pick the best one based on your preferences.
It’s that simple. And if you need any help, you can always approach their support staff via 24/7 live chat to get answers.