How important are hearts and arrows?
One of the most common questions that we receive from clients pertains to the importance of whether a diamond exhibits a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows. The reality is that what seems of obvious importance to us as diamond dealers, is not always obvious to our clients, who are usually in the process of developing their appreciation of diamond cut quality. While we recognize that the hearts pattern exhibited by this 2.013 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond proves that it has been cut to the highest of standards, our clients might not.
So I thought it might be interesting to talk about how a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows translates into better visual performance. And the best way to do that, is to study the images provided by the cutter of this 2.00+ carat, I-color, VVS-2 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond.
Who’s Ideal is it anyway?
For the record, the diamond we’re going to study today has an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent. According to the GIA, the diamond has a total depth of 61.6% and a table diameter of 57% with a pavilion angle of 41 degrees, which is offset by a crown angle of 34.5 degrees. The lower girdle facet length is 75% and the star facet length is 50% with a medium to slightly thick, faceted girdle and no culet. For all intents and purposes, most people would consider this to be an ideal cut diamond, but take a real good look at the dark triangles under the table facet, which are indicated by the red arrows in this photograph. What do you think those might be?
Now you’ll notice that I drew a green line across the table facet of the diamond, because I want you make the connection in your mind, that what happens on one side of a diamond, affects how light behaves on the opposite side. Diamonds are after all, a series of tiny facets that act like mirrors to reflect the light which enters the stone.
How sloppy hearts = poor light performance:
Take a look at the photograph of the “hearts pattern” exhibited by this diamond. Notice how the hearts located across from each other in the three and nine o’clock positions are about half the size of the other hearts. Also notice that this creates a lot of black space around the tip of the hearts. Do you think that there might be a connection between the black triangles indicated by the red arrows in the clarity photograph provided above, and the extra black space around the base of these heart shapes? Feel free to reach out and grab the brass ring if you see the connection, because this is why a crisp and complete hearts pattern is critical for light performance.
How do sloppy hearts affect the arrows pattern?
Now that you know what to look for… Do you see how the extra space around the base of the hearts is affecting how light reflects in this photograph of the arrows pattern exhibited by this diamond? The position of the diamond has been rotated slightly in each photograph, but it’s pretty easy to see the pattern of how the light is being interrupted as it reflects throughout this diamond. What you’re actually seeing here is light leakage, notice how it fans out towards the edge of the diamond. Perhaps you are beginning to see why proportions are only part of the puzzle, and why the optical precision which creates the hearts pattern is so important.
Using ASET to Judge Performance:
This ASET image of the diamond really drives the point home. Once again it is clearly evident that light is not reflecting evenly throughout the diamond. Notice the white ring of transparency that is evident under the edge of the table facet and how the shafts of the arrows lack contrast brilliance. Remember that the proportions of this GIA Excellent cut diamond are perfectly fine, they’re well within the middle of the range designated for the zero ideal proportions rating as defined by the AGS Laboratory. Everything that you’re seeing here is a direct result of the degree of optical precision, which is not something the gem labs take into consideration.
Brian Gavin Signature round diamonds exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of heart and arrows, because they have been cut to the highest degree of optical precision. The effect that hearts and arrows have upon the pattern of light return exhibited by a round brilliant cut diamond is clearly visible in the clarity photograph, as well as the ASET Scope image. When the facet structure of a diamond has been optimized to deliver maximum visual performance, the pattern of light return exhibited by the diamond becomes more uniform and precise, the sparkle becomes more vivid and intense, and your enjoyment is increased exponentially.