Jewellery Guides

What Are Hearts and Arrows Diamonds?

Written by Joanna Wyganowska
September 29th, 2020 • 7 min read

Diamonds are complicated things, and it's important to know exactly where your money goes when making such an investment. Many of us have heard of Hearts and Arrows diamonds, and know of the prestige that comes with them - but what exactly are they, and are they really worth it?

The importance of an Excellent cut diamond

Henry Morse first discovered the true success of a round excellent cut in the 1800s when examined intently to find the kaleidoscopic effect that produces optimal fire and scintillation, and ultimately fantastic sparkle. After decades of refining the cutting and polishing process, the round brilliant cut style grew globally popular, and by the 1990s was perfected.

The ideal diamond has a very strict set of specifications, striking the right balance between the 4 ‘C’s - cut, clarity, carat size and colour. This is where ‘Hearts and Arrows’ diamonds come into the equation. Since their emergence in the late 20th century, hearts and arrows have come to be known as the super-ideal diamond cut.

What are hearts and arrows diamonds?

The top of the diamond is called the ‘crown’ and the bottom the ‘pavilion’. A hearts and arrows diamond should show from the crown 8 symmetrical arrow shapes. When viewed from the pavilion, 8 symmetrical heart shapes should be visible. The quality of hearts is directly related to the quality of arrows - perfect hearts will result in perfect arrows. When executed precisely enough, these elements will contribute to the brilliance and scintillation of the diamond.

An idealscope highlights the 'hearts and arrows' patterns within a diamond's facets

Does this mean all ‘Excellent cuts’ are hearts and arrows diamonds?

The short answer here is no - not all excellent cuts qualify as hearts and arrows diamonds. A hearts and arrows diamond is formed of such great precision when polishing the facets to meticulous angles and proportions, that hearts and arrows diamonds surpass the criteria of a GIA rated ‘excellent’ cut. In a diamond with lower optical symmetry, the heart and arrow shapes are not as well defined, however this is not noticeable to the naked eye. As with all pristine and perfect things in the world, hearts and arrows diamonds are extremely rare, and only around 1% of the world’s cut diamonds would qualify as hearts and arrows.

This perfectly cut diamond displays a hearts and arrows facet structure

There is no industry standard for grading hearts and arrows diamonds; labs such as IGI, HRD and smaller Japanese labs do grade hearts and arrows diamonds, but the most esteemed grading labs such as the GIA do not highlight such attributes. If the GIA consider a diamond to have optimum brilliance and fire, it may well be what is considered a hearts and arrows diamond, but this will not be distinguished by the GIA - it will, however, be graded ‘excellent’ by GIA standards.

So are hearts and arrow diamonds worth the money?

The importance of having a hearts and arrows cut is debatable, as to the naked eye it is impossible to tell the difference with an excellent cut diamond. The hearts and arrows in question can only be seen with the technical machinery of a hearts and arrows viewer - an Idealscope.

The cutting and polishing process of a hearts and arrows diamond is so accurate and painstaking that it can take around 4 times longer than a normal brilliant cut. They require a vast level of expertise for both the polisher and the cutting software developer. The rough diamond must sacrifice more of its weight during this meticulous task, all of which contributes to the expense of the diamond - this means a hearts and arrows diamond is more expensive than a usual excellent cut.

You needn't search for a hearts and arrows diamond, but we do recommend searching for an 'Excellent' cut diamond

The advise of most gemologists, including our own, when investing in a diamond is to consider the cut as the most important attribute of the stone. The cut dictates how sparkly a diamond is, as total internal reflection is optimised through symmetry and precise cutting. We recommend going for GIA certified 'excellent' and 'very good' cuts, where the proportions and accuracy of the cut will result in total internal reflection: pure sparkle visible to the naked eye. If you're lucky enough to come across a GIA certified diamond that happens to have well formed hearts and arrows, that's the cherry on top.


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