Hearts & Arrows Tutorial

Throughout the course of history diamonds have been defined by their beauty, brilliance, rarity and, most importantly, as an expression of love. With this in mind, why not consider making your ring presentation with the most precise and beautifully cut round diamond available?

Welcome to the world of the Hearts & Arrow round brilliant cut diamond.
What characteristics define this cut and is it for you? Do you want to join the very small percentage of diamond buyers that are willing to pay a premium price for a diamond displaying maximum light performance along with the finest cut proportions?

The purpose of this article is to provide you with the gemological knowledge regarding the specific characteristics of Hearts and Arrows diamond. The goal is to educate you and embolden your confidence in order to make a decision that is correct for you. This will help you decide if you are that individual wishing to acquire a diamond that represents the pinnacle of what diamond cutting technology can offer.

The Hearts & Arrows cutting pattern took their cue from the legendary cutter of the early 1900’s, Marcel Tolkowsky (no, not Turnowski). He presented a research paper that documented his ideas. He experimented with various angles of the crown (top half of diamond and the pavilion (lower half of diamond). He studied the effects of changing the percentages for the table and depth. He is responsible for cutting the diamond with 58 facets resulting in the maximization of the total over-all brilliance.

Basically, his four exact specifications for maximum light performance were the following:

  • - Table = 53%
  • - Depth = 60%
  • - Crown angle = 34.5%
  • - Pavilion = 40.5%

However, since Mr. Tolkowsky was primarily doing research and development, there was no need to be concerned with the weight loss between the original rough and the final polished diamond. In today’s competitive world, this loss of weight would markedly increase the cost of the polished diamond. However, during the 90 years since his original paper was written, diamond cutters have devised formulas that have maintained the desired beauty and brilliance of the diamond with much less significant weight loss. Primarily thru the evolution of cutting technology, the Hearts & Arrows, round, brilliant cut diamond was developed.

In the early part of the 1980’s, the cutting factories in Japan began experimenting with specific, equally proportioned, lower main facets which became the Arrow section of the Hearts & Arrows. In addition they kept the table small as in the original Tolkowsky cut and the other primary proportions of the original cut. The intent was to present a diamond that had the 8 pavilion or lower main facets equal in size as pictured above.
Through the use of a gemological instrument called the ideal scope we can all view the perfect alignment of the lower pavilion facets.

As pictured above, not all arrows are cut the same, with the primary variation occurring when there is too much light leakage in the diamond. This is illustrated in the Light Return Chart above as the white areas in the diamond.

ASET Image

The ASET image is created using a special device manufactured by the AGS.

  • Red is the most desirable color and indicates that this light comes directly from direct light sources and will be viewed very favorably in most environments.
  • Blueindicates areas of obscured light, blocked when viewing a diamond by your head and shoulders. This offers a pleasant contrast to the brighter Red area.
  • Green areas indicate reflected light, coming from walls or other objects in the surrounding area. (Too much is undesirable)
  • White (or Black) indicates areas of light leakage. This should be minimal.

When reviewing Hearts and Arrows diamonds, it is important to note that they fall within the specific gemological parameters established by the 2 major gemological laboratories GIA and AGS.

The G.I.A.(Gemological Institute of America) developed a cut evaluation based on an “Excellent” rating being the top category. The AGS (American Gemological Laboratory) labeled theirs “Ideal”. Both systems were created to display information relating to maximizing of

  • Brilliance
  • Dispersion (fire)
  • Scintillation

The GIA has chosen to predict the brilliance of the diamond thru the use of calibrated proportions. For the purpose of reducing the various possibilities and eliminating confusion, the focus of the comparisons will be on four major areas:

  1. Table Size %
  2. Depth %
  3. Crown Angles
  4. Pavilion Angles

The AGS has focused on light performance, which measures the diamonds ability to reflect and return light. They have also established a numerical range for the above mentioned four categories, though the AGS parameters are in a narrower range. The list below shows the differences between the two laboratories.

  GIA AGS
Table size %: 52% - 62% 52.4% - 57.5%
Depth %: 58.1% - 63.6% 58.7% - 62.3%
Crown angle (Bezel): 31.57° - 36.5° 33.7° - 35.8°
Pavilion angle (Main): 40.6° - 41.8° 40.1° - 41.2°

Based on the information listed above, one can observe that the AGS “Ideal” grading system has tighter specifications than the GIA “Excellent” cut grading system. The implications of this evaluation are that, to the discriminating consumer who values a slightly better overall brilliance, at the expense of price, the AGS Ideal or Triple 000 would be a better choice over the GIA Excellent/Excellent/Excellent. However, to the casual observer seeking to purchase a round diamond, the actual specifics separating the GIA “Excellent” from the AGS “Ideal” may appear to be visually inconclusive. In fact most of the general population would not be aware of this slight difference, as they could not visualize the significance of this difference. Keeping this in mind, it is important to note that out of all round diamonds manufactured today, approximately 1% of diamonds cut will fall into the true H&A category.

To achieve the parameters of the AGS “Hearts and Arrows” there is greater weight loss in the cutting process. Compared to diamonds of equal color, clarity and weight, the AGS “Hearts &Arrows” diamond will normally be priced at a higher cost. Depending upon the manufacturing source, the cost plus can vary anywhere from 5% to 20%.

At the end of reading this tutorial, you, the customer, must decide if you are that discriminating “Hearts & Arrows” consumer. The BE website offers either option: the AGS or the GIA certificate. Due to the greater worldwide acceptance of the GIA certificate, both by consumers and cutting factories, we will be offering a larger selection of GIA certified diamonds. Please note that we have narrowed the range of the GIA specifications to coincide with the AGS guidelines. This will offer our customers the opportunity to select a GIA certified diamond that has maximum light performance, while at the same time reducing their costs.

Remember that the differences between the labs are minor. It is important to have a trained gemologist physically observe the diamond for you. If possible, do not totally rely on the specifications of the laboratory report. There are many Internet sites that rely solely upon posting images of the diamonds and their accompanying lab reports. The diamond is never reviewed in their office and is shipped without a trained gemologist ever examining and verifying the stone. It is important to inquire from these companies whether the diamond is physically in their office. Another tip: research the company for testimonials from previous customers. They will be your best source of information regarding the company’s service and reliability. If you have the opportunity to physically view the diamond then, by all means, make an appointment.

Thank you,
Mark Turnowski G.G.

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