A Guide to Heart Shape Diamonds

It is safe to say that no other shape more directly captures the romance of diamonds than the heart shape. Apart from the sparkle and scintillation of the cut, the heart shape beams “LOVE” to every eye that beholds it.
*The following article is based upon natural diamonds, but also applies in large part to lab grown diamonds. There is a separate section below covering some of the differences between natural and lab grown diamonds.
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What is a Heart Shape Diamond?

A heart shape or heart cut diamond is a facet arrangement with an outline of the iconic heart consisting of two rounded lobes separated by a cleft on one end, and a point on the other. As one can imagine, this is a challenging shape for a diamond cutter to execute, especially the cleft area.
Heart Shape Diamond
Heart Shape Diamond Table Facets
Heart Shape Diamond Pavilion Facets
Actual Photo and Facet Diagram of a Heart Shape Diamond
The facet design is in the brilliant style, with a pavilion featuring vertical facets extending from the girdle and converging into a culet, the same basic way a round brilliant is cut. The brilliant style, which can be seen on a range of diamond shapes including princess cut, oval, pear, and other shapes results in good brilliance and scintillation when crafted well. Brilliant styles are fundamentally different from step cuts like emerald cut and Asccher cut diamonds.

Heart Shape -Length to Width and Overall Shape

Like other fancy shapes (non-round), heart shape diamonds vary according to additional variables in their dimensions. Length to width ratio will determine how short or long the heart shape appears, making a significant difference in visual appeal. However, not all shoppers respond the same to this factor and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some prefer an elongated shape while others prefer a bolder, somewhat rounder shape. This is entirely a matter of personal preference and is not a qualitative issue, unless the proportions of the diamond are such that it negatively impacts light performance.
A GIA report lists the dimensions on a fancy shape as length x width x depth. Expressed as a length to width ratio, you divide the length by the width. For example, the heart shape in the photo above measures 5.87 x 6.47 x 3.88. Therefore the length to width ratio is 5.87/6.47 or about 0.91. It is slightly wider than it is long, giving it a somewhat broad shape. To the extent that length to width is greater than 1.00 the shape will be more elongated.
In addition to basic length to width, the appearance of the shape can be impacted by how full or slender the lobes are and/ or the point is. And the crafting of the cleft is a variable as well. Some hearts have an adequately deep cleft, whereas others have an insufficiently defined cleft that fails and makes the stone look more like a very wide pear shape.

Heart Shape Diamonds and Light Performance

No matter the shape of a diamond or whether it is natural or lab grown, where the real beauty of the diamond shines is in its light performance. The mesmerizing sparkle, the rainbow effects of fire, and the overall brightness of a diamond is what makes or breaks the appeal of any diamond. And the quality of the CUT is the most important factor in determining the optics of a diamond.
Unfortunately, cut quality is the most difficult of the 4 Cs to evaluate by the consumer. In fact, most members of the jewelry industry struggle with this factor. Most just trust their own eye, but that does little good for the internet shopper. A GIA report provides virtually no actionable information about the actual light performance of a fancy shape diamond. GIA provides an overall cut grade only on round brilliant diamonds. For all other shapes, the consumer must rely on their merchant and their own untrained eye.
This is where advanced imaging is really helpful. ASET is a foundational concept of the American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL) light performance system. It provides a “light map” - a color coded graphical view of how any given diamond is handling light. An ASET image reveals high intensity and low intensity light return, light leakage, and structured contrast – arguably the most important components of diamond light performance.
Heart Shape Diamond ASET
Heart Shape Diamond
ASET light map showing copious amounts of light return, ample contrast, and minimal light leakage
Red indicates light return from the highest angles in the environment, usually the area containing the brightest light sources. Green indicates light return from lower on the horizon which is correlated most often with light that is reflecting off objects in the environment. This light tends to be of lower intensity. Blue indicates structured contrast and is correlated with the light blocked by an observers head. The right amount and distribution of contrast is needed for optimal brightness and scintillation. The above ASET image is an example of a heart shape with outstanding light performance.

Lab Certification of Heart Shape Diamonds

As mentioned above, most certified heart shape diamonds come with grading reports from GIA and these reports do not contain complete information with which to assess cut quality. The report will identify the diamond as a “heart brilliant” referencing the brilliant style facet arrangement. GIA reports do provide measurements enabling you to calculate length to width ratio, an important factor in eye appeal. But other basic info about the outline of the shape cannot be gained, such as how distinct the cleft is and how wide or slender the lobes of the heart are. GIA reports do provide cut related data such as table size and depth, and an assessment of the level of polish and symmetry. But because of the complex interaction of proportions with dimensionality and facet precision, it is largely impossible to make any meaningful assessment of light performance from the information on a GIA report.
Heart Shape Diamond Certificate
(click to enlarge)
It also should be noted that the default facet diagram on the stone plot of the GIA report does not represent the actual outline of the diamond, which may vary considerably. For this, and because of the other variables discussed above, it is not advisable to buy a heart shape diamond from a GIA report alone. Photos, HD video, and advanced light performance images are all highly recommended when shopping for a heart cut diamond.

Heart Shape Lab Grown Diamonds

One of the best things to come of the emergence of laboratory grown diamonds in the market is that shoppers can experiment with different diamond shapes due to their affordability. Lab diamonds are real diamonds with essentially the same chemical, physical and optical properties of natural diamonds. So, if high quality and well cut, a heart shaped lab diamond will have the same dazzling beauty as an Earth-mined diamond.
But not all heart shaped lab created diamonds are the same. There are two very different growth methods for creating diamonds in the lab (CVD and HPHT) each having specific issues to be on the look out for; namely transparency issues and unusual color tinges. And some of these issues are not readily apparent from a GIA or other top tier gemological report. It is therefore highly advisable to shop for lab diamonds as you would for natural diamonds, dealing only with merchants who have great reputations for their expertise and ethics.
A heart shaped lab grown diamond that is well cut, clean and colorless can be just the answer for shoppers looking for the beauty and durability, in the shap of the iconic symbol of love, at in a budget that does not stress the bank account.

Price of Heart Shape Diamonds

When it comes to natural diamonds the heart shape, like most fancy shapes, are typically priced lower than round brilliant diamonds of comparable carat weight, color and clarity. Industry pricing is largely driven by a diamond’s parameters and pegged to the Rapaport Diamond List – the basic structure for diamond prices at the wholesale level. The “Rap Sheet” actually consists of two separate lists; one for rounds and one for pear shape. The pear shape list which is published monthly is used as a pricing guide for all non-round diamonds. Heart cut diamonds are therefore priced according to the pear list which may be as much as 30% lower than the round list. *Note: Lab grown diamonds are essentially a technology product and do not have the inherent rarity factors of natural diamonds. Pricing is therefore completely different and much more affordable!
The Rapaport list is only a guide and does not fully account for many factors that impact a given diamond’s actual asking price. Cut quality is probably the biggest of those factors, as well as the most difficult to evaluate. But other factors such as length to width ratio, fluorescence, and transparency also enter in to the calculation of a diamond’s price. In general, the prices on the rap list are “high asking prices” and most diamonds trade a varying discounts to the list price. In a few cases, especially in larger stones, diamonds may actually trade at a premium over the list price. It is therefore a mistake to make any assumptions about the actual value of a diamond based solely on its Rap price.
Taken together, all the additional characteristics not obvious in the list price can make a significant difference in the price of a heart shape. For this reason shoppers should be wary of any vendor using the Rapaport list as a selling tool. A seemingly deep discount against the Rapaport list does not necessarily indicate a good value.
Heart Shape Diamond

Pros and Cons of Heart Shape Diamonds

For those that have their heart set on a heart shape , another shape will simply not do. If you are shopping for a loved one and are not sure if they have a preference for shape, it would pay to do some investigation. A heart shape is not everyone’s cup of tea. But if you have made that determination, you will forever be reminded of the romantic feelings involved in making a dream become a reality!
  • Super distinctive shape will turn heads
  • The most emotionally symbolic of all the diamond shapes
  • Brilliant style facet arrangement can be bright and scintillating
  • Less expensive than round of equivalent size and quality
  • Shape may not be first preference to those wanting a classic diamond
  • Selection of hearts to choose from in the market is limited
  • Cut quality and light performance are more difficult to assess
  • Limited number of readily available ring styles
If finding a heart shape is your goal, it’s best to work with a merchant who has experience with fancy shapes and can perform a full range of evaluations. This is your best assurance that the diamond you buy will make the heart sing!

Heart Shape Diamond Engagement Rings

While more ornate and unique settings are available for heart shape diamonds, and the top bridal designers have gorgeous options in both simple and elaborate styles, perhaps the most pure settings are the solitaire styles.
Heart Shape Diamond Engagement Ring
Classic 5 Prong Solitaire Engagement Ring
A solitaire setting lets the diamond take center stage, allowing the shape to really pop. And while this type of setting is the ultimate classic, it is not necessarily “generic”. There are many subtle variations to the solitaire style that add just a touch of artistic flair that makes the setting itself an interesting aspect of the ring’s overall appeal.

Why Whiteflash?

Choosing your vendor is every bit as important as choosing your diamond. Actually, when it comes to a unique diamond shape like a heart cut, it is more important. When choosing a fancy shape it is very important to work with a vendor who has expertise in light performance, and can provide comprehensive evaluations including light performance imaging. Since most shoppers are looking for a finished ring, it is also highly beneficial to work with a vendor who can provide the finest in designer brand options. It goes without saying, that when buying a product of such financial and emotional importance, it is essential to deal with a company with a great reputation for expertise, ethics, and customer care.
As an industry leader and a perennial BBB Winner of Distinction, Whiteflash is fully dedicated to customer education and customer care. On the strength of our internationally acclaimed A CUT ABOVE® Super Ideal Diamonds, we have been at the forefront of cut quality and light performance analysis from the beginning. And we are authorized retailers for the finest designer brands including Tacori, Verragio, Simon G, A.Jaffe, Ritani, Danhov, and Vatche. The combined catalogues of these fine designers provide almost limitless style choices, in a quality of craftsmanship commensurate with the importance of the purchase. As one of very few retail jewelers anywhere certified for ISO 9000, Whiteflash quality standards are the highest in the industry.
For the finest in natural and lab grown diamonds, Whiteflash is a great choice and we look forward to guiding you on your journey!

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