The term Hearts and Arrows (H&A) refers to round diamonds that have been cut within a fairly narrow range of proportions and crafted to a high degree of three dimensional symmetry. The diamond’s facets are placed, angled, and aligned so precisely that crisp, symmetrical reflection patterns are visible from both pavilion (hearts) and table view (arrows), with the aid of a special reflector device.
Evaluating H&A patterning is a means of understanding the skill and care that went into crafting the diamond. It also reveals important information related to light performance. The level of precision required for an accurate pattern to be exhibited requires more time and skill, as well as the polishing away of more carat weight. Hearts and arrows diamonds are therefore more costly to produce and command a premium in the market. When other conditions are met, precision cutting results in diamonds with extraordinary beauty.
But not all diamonds marketed as Hearts and Arrows are equal. Because there is no universally agreed standard, many merchants take wide liberties in assigning the H&A designation to their diamonds. It is therefore necessary to understand what it takes to make perfect hearts and arrows and how deviations from top precision can be detected.
This article will focus on how H&A patterns are graded. To understand the combinations of reflections necessary for these patterns to be exhibited please see our article on H&A formation
. For a comprehensive understanding of the many aspects associated with these precision cut diamonds, please see our page on hearts and arrows
. Turn learn what H&A diamonds mean in terms of beauty and value to the consumer please see our page on the benefits of hearts and arrows diamonds
Browse our A CUT ABOVE® and Expert Selection H&A diamonds
Hearts and Arrows Grading
It should be noted that neither of the top two grading labs directly grade hearts and arrows patterning. Facet precision is indirectly taken into account in the AGSL light performance grading system, and pavilion view ASET images printed on AGSL dual light map reports is designed to show patterning.
To be considered a true super ideal, a diamond must have a near perfect hearts and arrows pattern. The following grading standard is used by Whiteflash in determining qualification for our A CUT ABOVE® super ideal brand.
Grading the Hearts
The basics – what to look for:
- Hearts should be uniform in shape and equal in size.
- All hearts should have clean separation from the chevrons pointing at the culet.
- The clefts between lobes of the heart should have minimal splitting.
- The lobes of the hearts should be squared off by the crown facets.
In figure A, parts A1 (chevron), A2 (separation) and A3 the heart is well defined, the gap between the chevrons is distinct, and the split at A3 is minimal. Figure F fails to meet the criteria.
1. In assessing uniformity of hearts, no heart should be more than 5% larger or smaller than the average size of all hearts, otherwise the pattern fails to make the criteria.
2. In assessing the clefts, any splitting present should not exceed of 8%. That is, the ratio of length from the beginning of the split (Z) to end of split (C) relative to the length from beginning of the split (Z) to tip of the heart (X).
Here are examples of hearts that do not meet the criteria for various reasons, some more obvious than others.
Example of an ideal cut with poor hearts and arrows patterning.
Grading the Arrows
1. Each of the eight arrows must be clearly visible with a shaft and arrow head.
2. All arrows and arrow heads must be in alignment.
3. The 8 points of the arrowheads must extend to the girdle.
Distinctly formed arrows, but misalignment of some arrow heads
The Hearts and Arrow pattern is possible in any round brilliant, but if the diamond has not been crafted with precision alignment in three dimensions (optical precision), and proportioned within a rather narrow range of parameters, it will not exhibit a true and accurate hearts and arrows pattern.
Here is a comparative study of patterning. All the diamonds depicted here are 0.90 ct in weight and range from 0 to 7 on the AGS scale according to cut parameters.
Hearts and Arrows Diamonds and AGS0
A diamond can be an AGS Ideal without being H&A. And a diamond can be H&A without being Ideal.
Even when a diamond is cut within AGS Ideal proportion and receives an AGS 0 cut grade, it can fail to meet hearts and arrows criteria. Although an AGS 0 light performance-based certificate is the strictest cut standard of any major laboratory, AGS0 combined with H&A precision is another level altogether- the true super ideal.
The images below are all AGS0 diamonds and show various deficits in patterning and therefore precision. Only the image on the far right has a true and accurate H&A pattern and can be legitimately deemed a “super ideal”.
Hearts and Arrows Grading and Whiteflash Diamonds
Whiteflash is a specialist in precision cut diamonds with more Ideal H&A diamonds in-stock than any other retailer in the market. We have three in-house categories - A CUT ABOVE®, Expert Selection, and Premium Select. All diamonds in these categories are in stock and available for immediate delivery and posted to the website with a full array of diagnostics and light performance imagery.
Our A CUT ABOVE®
brand is a true super ideal and is considered by experts to be among the finest diamonds on the market. In order to achieve this brand a diamond must be an AGS Ideal and have near perfect hearts and arrows patterning, in addition to passing a number of other important specifications and qualifications
. Simply put, the “Best of the Best”.
The Expert Selection
brand consists of AGS Ideal rounds that feature H&A patterning within the range offered by the better retailers who are supporting their claims with H&A imagery. There is more variability in this in this range and Expert Selection diamonds are not required to conform to all the stringent requirements of A CUT ABOVE®, although many of them do exhibit perfect H&A patterns.
Our Premium Select
category features GIA Triple Excellent diamonds with H&A patterning. While the top cut category in the GIA system is quite broad and forgiving, Premium Select diamonds represent the best of GIA rounds – those with optical precision and proven light performance.