Hearts And Arrows

Every industry has a flagship person/product. And in each industry, there is only place for one such icon.

For example, it is hard to talk about rock and roll without mentioning Elvis Presley because he is considered the representative icon of rock and roll. In comparison, Jerry Lee Lewis might have had a “whole lotta shakin’ going on”, but he will never be the most well-known figure whose facsimiles swamp the streets of Las Vegas.

Similarly, when it comes to diamond jewelry, the hearts and arrows diamond is definitely the masterpiece and most well-known phenomenon people associate diamonds with.

top view and bottom view of the super ideal diamonds

8 arrows from table view – 8 perfect hearts from pavilion view

The Emergence of Hearts And Arrows Diamonds

Diamond cutting can be considered a branch of liberal arts. As with liberal arts in general, artists want to push the boundaries of their craft further and further. Back in the 1980s, Japanese jewelers were the first to discover the existence of a kaleidoscopic effect when a round brilliant cut diamond was examined through a special viewer.

At that time, those diamonds didn’t feature perfect looking hearts and arrows patternings yet. As the Japanese started to refine their polishing techniques, the cutting style slowly gained popularity and was picked up by other cutting houses around the world.

By the time the kaleidoscopic cutting style arrived in the United States during the early 1990s, the technique and guidelines had already been laid out to a certain degree.

What Exactly is a Hearts And Arrows Patterning?

When viewed from the top (crown), an ideally cut diamond should reveal eight symmetrical arrows. On the other hand, when the diamond was viewed from the bottom (pavilion), it should reveal eight symmetrical hearts.

Due to the extreme level of cutting precision required for symmetrical patterning, Hearts and Arrows diamonds are sometimes called “super ideals”. Fast forward to modern day, the term “super ideal” is used to define a diamond with superior light performance, material quality and precise optical symmetry.

Check out well-cut hearts and arrows diamonds at White Flash, Victor Canera and Brian Gavin.

Does an “Ideal” Cut Rating Equates to Hearts And Arrows?

The answer is NO.

Not all diamonds with an ideal cut rating (AGS) or excellent cut rating (GIA) will automatically qualify it as a hearts and arrows diamond. Technically speaking, the formation of a precise H&A patterning is due to extreme care that is taken when polishing each facet to exact angles and proportions. This level of precision goes way beyond the criteria needed to achieve a “excellent” symmetry rating.

Below are images of a diamond with poor optical symmetry and you could clearly see that the “hearts” aren’t well defined. Are you surprised to know this is what a typical GIA triple excellent round diamond looks like under a viewer?

arrows with misaligned shafts
poor definition of hearts and arrows diamonds

Now, “Hearts And Arrows” is a very loosely used term that many jewelers utilize to market their inventory and this is something you need to beware of. Any jeweler who is claiming to sell you “super ideal” diamonds should provide you with all the necessary data (ASET, Idealscope, H&A images) to justify their claim. If they don’t, it is most likely a sham and marketing ploy used to prey on uneducated consumers.

What About This? Surely It Looks Better Than The Previous One

inconsistent arrows thickness
near perfect 8 hearts from pavilion view

Does this qualify as a hearts and arrows diamond?

Don’t be fooled. Many sub-standard stones such as the example above are frequently passed off as the real deal. While I would consider the diamond to be pretty well-cut, it hasn’t achieve the pinnacle of cut precision. In my opinion, if I am going be charged an additional premium for hearts and arrows diamonds, it had better be the cream of the crop. This diamond isn’t.

On the next page, I’m going to show you the guidelines to determining optical symmetry and teach you how to make your own judgements. At the end of the day, you want to make sure that any premium you pay for H&A diamonds is really justified and you aren’t walking away short-changed.

Next Page >>

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11 Comments

  1. Gussie-
    March 14, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Very informative website. Lot’s to learn.

    What’s the difference between hearts and arrows vs hearts on fire vs super ideal cut diamonds? I noticed a price variation between different vendors selling these stones with certification.

    Are hearts and arrows diamonds worth it when compared to one that displays near H&A patterns?

  2. Paul Gian-
    March 18, 2015 at 2:58 am

    H&A diamonds are frequently labelled as super ideal cuts. That’s just another terminology the trade use to differentiate stones that are cut to superior precision. Also, I’m not sure what you are referring to when you mention certification. As far as I know, there isn’t a widely recognized certificate for H&A patterns.

    In my opinion, hearts and arrows stones are worth it if you expect the best of the best when purchasing an engagement ring. For more practical reasons, I would prioritize light performance over H&A patterning.

  3. Kelv-
    August 31, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Hi Paul, if i just wanted to consider two variables, being your ideal proportions and getting the best H&As, would it be best to prioritise your ideal proportions first and then get as close to a excellent H&As second?

  4. Paul Gian-
    August 31, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    Yep, that’s the way I personally shop for diamonds. It will weed out alot of lousy diamonds quickly and leave the better ones for me to cherry pick from.

  5. Brian N Phillips-
    October 5, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    Hi Paul, thanks for all the information. If all other features of the stone are the same, how much more should I pay for a near hearts and arrows stone or a true hearts and arrows stone? 10% premium for true hearts and arrows? I understand there are different levels of hearts and arrows and many vendors will market near hearts and arrows as true hearts and arrows. I consider Brian Gavin diamonds true hearts and arrows, and near hearts and arrows the same as “industry standard” hearts and arrows, such as the near hearts and arrows you get from a “true ideal” cut at James Allen. Thanks for all your information.

  6. Brian N Phillips-
    October 5, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    I also consider blue nile signature cuts near hearts and arrows in most cases when they provide the gcal document (which is essentially worthless), unless they back it up with a picture. How much of a premium should I pay for a near hearts and arrows stone?

  7. Paul Gian-
    October 5, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    I would say around 10-15% more when compared with a decently well cut diamond. I say decently well cut because most diamonds (GIA 3EX) aren’t decently well cut by my standards.

  8. seth lim-
    October 18, 2016 at 1:54 am

    Reminds me of the story of that college geek who created an entire social network just to get to know the girls in school. You probably taught yourself website design as well, did you build your own computer? Enjoyed reading your work although i have little interest in gems and always thought it ironic that after all the fuss over cut, light performance is always compromised after setting it on a ring or any piece of jewelry, do you agree? How weight would you place on going for luxury brands (vca, cartier or t&co etc) when shopping for a diamond ring instead of trusting online or homegrown vendor? Thank you for your free lessons.

  9. Paul Gian-
    October 18, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Yep. Light performance will be somewhat affected when it gets mounted in a setting and depends on the type of setting used. Put it this way, if mounting it in a setting would decrease light performance by 5%, wouldn’t it be wise to choose a diamond that’s better cut. Placing a poorly cut diamond into a setting will only make it worse.

  10. Morgan M.-
    August 6, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Are DeBeers new Black Label Forevermark Diamonds really the top one percent of the one percent of diamonds that they say and are they graded as strictly as AGS and GIA? Thanks Morgan

  11. Paul Gian-
    August 7, 2017 at 4:54 am

    I have yet to seen enough Black Label Forevermark diamonds to offer any constructive insights yet.

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