Due to its fascinating appearance, the hearts and arrows patterning has become a major sales tools for jewelers when marketing round diamonds. And whenever there is money to be made, things tend to get abused and facts get twisted.
I can’t begin to tell you the amount of times I had seen and heard jewelers using the term loosely just to draw in customers. At other times, the problems lie in poorly trained sales staffs with very limited knowledge. Like the uneducated customer, these sales people actually think that a diamond with excellent symmetry would automatically qualify it as an H&A stone.
Well that isn’t true and this is why I wanted to address this common misconception many people have when shopping for hearts and arrows diamonds.
The fact is: Ideal/Excellent Symmetry + Polish ≠ Perfect Stone.
The confusion stems from the fact that many consumers assume the symmetry grade in a grading report to be an indication of the diamond’s optical symmetry (H&A). These two terms DO NOT refer to the same thing.
When it comes to the symmetry rating found in a grading report, the diamond is visually examined under 10X magnification for a number of symmetry features like tilted tables, wavy girdles, facet sizes and etc…
A grade is then assigned based on the gemologist’s findings. For a diamond to be graded with “excellent symmetry”, any symmetry flaws it has are often minute and very difficult to detect under 10X magnification.
For example, a stone with slightly misaligned facets could still make it to an excellent rating. To put in layman’s terms, the symmetry grading focuses on the diamond’s overall external shape and how the diamond’s facets align to each other. It doesn’t tell us how all the individual facets intertwine together in a complex relationship!
On the other hand, optical symmetry seen through the H&A viewer takes into account the relationship of every facet that comes together as a whole. In fact, the virtual facets (facets that are created by a diamond’s internal reflections akin to a hall or mirrors) play an important role in the crispness of the hearts and arrows pattern we see. And as you would have guessed, there’s no mention of this property in most grading reports.
View From Top (Arrows)
View From Pavilion (Hearts)
Brian Gavin’s Signature H&A Diamonds – Neat Arrows + Crisp Hearts!
While most GIA triple excellent or AGS triple 0 diamonds exhibit some kind of hearts and arrows effect when examined with a viewer, the level of craftsmanship is usually less than perfect upon scrutiny.
More often than not, what you will see through the viewer are misaligned or lopsided H&A patterns. You see, when a diamond is polished to different standards in craftsmanship, they will look different even though they have same symmetry grades!
Here’s a simple analogy that I always use – 2 students may have gotten the same distinction grade of “A” in an exam. However, one student scored 97/100 while the other scored 76/100. On their educational records, both have the same “A” grade and yet one fared significantly better than the other.
That’s the same scenario for 2 diamonds with similar “excellent” symmetry ratings. The grading system can accommodate and categorize diamonds with the same rating even though they may possess different degrees of flaws.
Triple 0 AGS Diamond With Poor Optical Symmetry
This diamond is graded by AGS as a triple ideal. However, it‘s still not good enough.
Diamond scores triple 0s in an AGS report and yet has bad optical symmetry.
Very Good Cut With Ex/Ex Polish And Symmetry
Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Gasp… It is possible for badly cut diamonds like the example above to achieve excellent/excellent symmetry and polish grades. When the proportions are all wrong, it doesn’t matter how accurate each facet lines up to another. The stone will look dull and lack life!
Wouldn’t it be nice if the gemological labs can include a section for grading optical symmetry? Unfortunately, that won’t be happening anytime soon. Major labs like GIA won’t grade H&A patterns because they believe that it is NOT a key component for a diamond’s beauty. The truth is, even if a diamond displays perfect H&A, it doesn’t guarantee that the stone will be brilliant or possess excellent light return.
So, until the day the entire industry agrees on a consensus to grade H&A patterning, you should always take things with a pinch of salt whenever you hear a jeweler label their inventory as such. You want to see proof and tangible data instead of relying on the jeweler’s words.
Grading reports alone will not tell you the degree of craftsmanship and precision that a diamond is cut to. You will need to examine the pictures taken from the table view and pavilion view to help you discern such details.