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The Comprehensive Guide to Hearts and Arrows Diamonds

banner with image of a diamond ring to the left and text "BGD'S Hearts and Arrows Deliver a Sure Sparkle TM"

Hearts and Arrows diamonds

Table of Contents

1. The Origin: Brian Gavin's Hearts and Arrows
2. The Ultimate Hearts and Arrows Buying Guide

The Hearts and Arrows diamond is a "super-ideal" cut version of the traditional 57 faceted round brilliant cut. Cut to ideal proportions with perfect optical symmetry, polish and maximum light performance, these diamonds feature a visual pattern of eight “hearts” visible through the pavilion (the bottom, or pointed section of the diamond) and eight “arrows” when the stone is viewed in the table-up position. This visual phenomenon was nicknamed the “Cupid effect,” and these diamonds became known in the trade as “hearts and arrows.”

Brian Gavin's Signature Hearts and Arrows Diamonds

Almost every woman recognizes the statement of love made with a diamond. Where words end, the beauty and brilliance of a Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows Diamond will only have begun to express the depth of your feelings. It is a perfect symbol of your unfailing love and a tribute to the strength of your commitment, containing all the fire and passion your heart holds. Make a bold statement. Choose a Brian Gavin Signature cut diamond.

“Really, you don't even need to ask about quality or performance with Brian Gavin. All of his signature cut diamonds are stunning.” Marilyn H.

Optimum Performance

When selecting a diamond, you have many choices and options. Beyond the basic “4 Cs” (carat, color, clarity, cut/shape) used to measure a diamond’s quality, there is another level of excellence and perfection that involves the symmetry and reflective quality of a diamond’s cut - another “C” that affects and potentially enhances all the others.  The cut determines how well a diamond “performs,” how well it reflects light under a variety of lighting conditions and situations. Practically any stone will look impressive under the bright spotlights of a jewelry store, but a rare few have the unique combination of precise cut, shape, and angles to hold their brilliance in more natural lighting situations. 

This is what distinguishes Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows Diamonds – diamonds that embody the perfect marriage of brilliance, fire and dazzling scintillation, unrivaled by ordinary diamonds. Where words end, your Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows diamond will carry on, adding new, unending expressions of your love. 

World Renowned for Quality and Trust

Brian Gavin is a fifth generation diamond cutter and creator of his internationally renowned Signature Hearts and Arrows diamond. Being a recognized authority and consultant on diamond cutting and jewelry design, you are assured of both superior quality and service backed by the knowledge and expertise of five generations of expert diamond cutters. Heritage, history, trust, world-renowned expertise - and the most beautiful diamonds available in the world - that’s the mark of a Brian Gavin Signature diamond.

Enhancing the Ideal Cut – the Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows Diamond

The ideal cut diamond is cut to “ideal” mathematical proportions in which every facet is placed at exact angles to create an ideal balance between optimum brilliance (return of light to the eye) and the scattering of light, or "fire" (this is the prism effect that separates white light into its spectral colors).  To achieve this optimum reflection and refraction of light, the cutter must be willing to sacrifice valuable carat weight to yield a smaller diamond though with superior beauty.

The hearts and arrows cut was developed in the 1980s by Japanese cutters who produced diamonds cut so exactly that the facet reflections created overlapping, kaleidoscopic patterns when seen through reflecting viewers. These diamonds created a visual pattern of eight “hearts” visible through the pavilion (the bottom, or pointed section of the diamond) and eight “arrows” when the stone was viewed in the table-up position.  This visual phenomenon was nicknamed the “Cupid effect,” and these diamonds became known in the trade as “hearts and arrows.”

Beginning in 1997, Brian and his father, Benjamin Gavin, researched and refined the 90s version of the hearts and arrows design. Their combined knowledge in the fields of cut and light performance, based on five generations of experience, helped them achieve a noted improvement on the standard hearts and arrows design of the day, enhancing the “performance” quality of the diamond, and improving its light reflective performance under all lighting conditions.

These enhancements,   introduced in 1998, set a new quality benchmark and created a new   grading system for the worldwide standard hearts and arrows pattern cut   and earned Gavin the reputation worldwide as “The Cutter.” Gavin’s ideal  Signature cut is recognized today as the standard that other companies   emulate.

In March 2009, Gavin launched his new Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows diamonds. These stones are cut to even more exacting standards for quality and brilliance. Every Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows diamond has earned the coveted AGS 0 grade for Light Performance and was accompanied by the new AGS Platinum Diamond Quality Document introduced in January 2009, and then the Proprietary Light Performance Diamond Quality Document since November 2011.


Black and white image of a man holding up a diamond

Cut Beyond Brilliant® - The Distinct Difference

These signature-cut diamonds are optically balanced for maximum visual performance. This signature quality reveals the beauty and personality of each individual diamond. It gives voice to the inner essence of the diamond through its contrast, brightness and scintillation.  This is the distinct difference you’ll appreciate in each Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows diamond. Cut Beyond Brilliant®.

“Each Signature Hearts and Arrows diamond communicates its own special   meaning and emotion.  No other stone can speak as clearly your heart’s   message of love.” Brian Gavin

Buying Guide: What you need to know about Hearts and Arrows Diamonds


Consumers today have become more and more educated and demand perfection in diamond cutting as they do in any other high end consumer product today. They want to know that they have a finely manufactured stone. The advent of the Heart and Arrow effect in the market became a tool for consumers to see perfection in optical symmetry. Since optical symmetry is difficult to quantify because of the variations between each cutter and each stone, criteria need to be standardized for consumers to avoid discrepancies.

Therefore just as the Labs grade Color, Clarity and Cut, they should grade the Hearts and Arrows too. Diamond Manufacturers should be rewarded for their excellence in producing an optical symmetrical stone and consumers need to be able to purchase  assuredly and with comfort. The perfectly shaped hearts are formed when the main pavilion facets are cut at the correct angles and polished with such perfection in symmetry that their reflection results in a perfect heart pattern. Once the perfect heart pattern has been attained, the perfect arrow pattern in the crown results.

1. Proper Proportions Deliver Maximum Light Return:

Cutting diamonds so that the crown and pavilion angle reflect just the right offset, ensures the highest volume of light return, and a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle) and that the sparkle will be broad spectrum, which means that it is larger in size, bolder, brighter, and more vivid!

As a fifth generation diamond cutter, Brian Gavin knows exactly how to cut diamonds to deliver maximum light performance, and optimize visual performance. While other diamond cutters seem focused on cutting diamonds to retain the maximum amount of carat weight, Brian Gavin is intent that every diamond be precisely cut to a degree of craftsmanship that is unattainable anywhere else.

2. Optical Precision Beyond Excellent or Ideal Symmetry:

Gemological laboratories like the AGS and the GIA grade diamonds for “meet point symmetry” which is based upon how closely the points of the facets align to each other, however even diamonds cut to excellent or ideal symmetry can leak substantial amounts of light, if the degree of optical symmetry is not optimized so that the facets of the diamond are precisely aligned, indexed, and shaped consistently, so that a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows is evident. Every Brian Gavin Signature round hearts and arrows diamond exhibits a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows, which is evidence of superior optical precision!
image of Precise optical precision produces exceptionally formed hearts and arrows patterns
Precise optical precision produces exceptionally formed hearts and arrows patterns

Image depicting less desirable optical precision results in poorly formed hearts and arrows patterns
Less desirable optical precision results in poorly formed hearts and arrows patterns

3. Superior Light Return & Incredible Sparkle in All Lighting Conditions:

Even the poorest cut diamonds seem to sparkle like crazy when viewed under the pinpoint type lighting conditions provided by jewelry store lighting, we refer to this visual fantasy as the Walt Disney Effect, because it is the direct result of pinpoint type lighting that is designed to make poorly cut diamonds perform well. However if you don’t live in a jewelry store, then you know that the real world lives in a world that is primarily illuminated by diffused light. Brian Gavin Signature diamonds are designed specifically to perform incredibly well under all lighting scenarios, from diffused light, to pinpoint light, and even under lighting conditions where diamonds normally appear not to sparkle!

4. Hearts and arrows diamond prices:

It’s a little-known fact that Diamond Cut Quality (the most important of the 4C’s) can affect the value of a diamond by as much as sixty percent. Which is why poorly cut diamonds cost less than diamonds that exhibit the higher degree of optical precision necessary to create hearts and arrows. Another misconception that most people have is that a diamond with an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 or GIA Excellent will automatically exhibit the best light performance. Unfortunately, this assumption is far from the truth because each cut grade represents a range or spectrum of possibility. In addition, the gemological laboratories do not account for optical precision as part of the evaluation process. Thus, it’s up to you to verify the degree of optical precision by evaluating the reflector scope images designed to judge optical performance. Specifically, these would be an ASET Scope, Hearts & Arrows Scope, and Ideal Scope image. Each scope is designed for a specific purpose and the images are not interchangeable, so be sure to get all three when buying an H&A diamond. Read more about the affordability of Hearts and Arrows Diamonds

5. Hearts and arrows vs round brilliant cut diamonds:

Many people confuse Hearts & Arrows diamonds with standard round brilliant cut diamonds because they share the same basic facet structure. However, this is like saying that a Ford Taurus and a Lamborghini are both automobiles. While that statement is true, Ford and Lamborghini are both cars, there are dramatic differences between a Taurus and a Huracán in terms of performance. The modern round brilliant cut diamond consists of 58 facets including the bottom point known as the culet. Thus, it is possible for any round brilliant cut diamond to exhibit hearts and arrows to some extent. However, it requires an incredible amount of precision to produce a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows. As you can see, each heart is formed from two halves that are created by light reflecting off the pavilion main facet on one side of the diamond, across the diamond where it splits into two halves which reflect off of the lower girdle facets on the opposite side. The slightest variation in facet size, shape, or alignment, skews everything and the hearts will not be consistent in size and shape. Read more about the differences between H&A's and regular round diamonds.

6. Are Hearts and arrows diamond worth it?

As stated previously, Hearts & Arrows diamonds cost more than standard ideal cut diamonds because they require more time on the wheel to polish and greater skill on the part of the cutter. You might be wondering whether the extra expense is worth it. The answer is a resounding YES because the higher degree of optical precision produces more virtual facets within the diamonds, which in turn produces more sparkle, and that sparkle will be more vivid and intense. Imagine a diamond that sparkles so vividly that it commands attention from across the room, that’s likely to be a hearts and arrows diamond. Read More about the value of Hearts and Arrows

7. — GIA Hearts and Arrows diamonds:

People often ask us whether we sell GIA Hearts & Arrows diamonds. The fact of the matter is there is no such thing as a GIA Hearts & Arrows diamond. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) does not sell hearts and arrows diamonds, nor do they grade diamonds for optical precision. The GIA is a gemological laboratory that grades diamonds for carat weight, color, clarity, and cut grade which is based on proportions, polish, and symmetry, and does not take light performance into account. Black by Brian Gavin and Brian Gavin Signature Hearts & Arrows diamonds are submitted to the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) which grades diamonds for light performance using Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology (ASET). However, the AGS Laboratory does not grade diamonds for hearts and arrows either. The only way to determine the extent to which a round brilliant cut diamond exhibits hearts and arrows is to view it through a special scope or look at the photographs of the pattern featured on each diamond details page. Read more about GIA graded hearts and arrows diamonds

8. Hearts and arrows cut vs. Ideal Cut diamonds:

In the same manner that many people confuse hearts and arrows diamonds with round brilliant cut diamonds, they often assume that H&A and ideal cut diamonds are the same. However, the reality is that the majority of ideal cut diamonds do not exhibit crisp and complete patterns of hearts and arrows. Once again, this is because the majority of diamond cutters lack the skill required to produce hearts and arrows patterns which are crisp and complete or are not willing to spend the extra time polishing the diamond to the higher degree of optical precision (or they simply don’t want to incur the extra expense because they are focused more on price). Learn more about the differences between H&As and Ideal Cuts

9. Hearts and arrows engagement ring (what rings work for H&A cuts):

Black by Brian Gavin and Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows diamonds are round or cushion cut. Thus, the majority of engagement rings will accommodate a Hearts and Arrows diamond, because round and cushion cuts are popular shapes featured in most engagement rings. The milgrain halo setting by Brian Gavin is a perfect example of a popular engagement ring set with a round hearts and arrows diamond in the center. Here’s a special tip, setting a diamond in platinum or white gold prongs tends to make it face-up about one color grade whiter. As you might imagine, it’s rather easy to find an engagement ring for a hearts and arrows round or cushion cut diamond. Our online catalog of engagement rings is stock full of popular choices. Of course, we’re happy to custom create the engagement ring of your dreams if you have something else in mind. Find out more about the perfect setting for a super ideal cut H&A diamond