Diamond Hearts and Arrows: Are They Worth the Price?
If you’ve been looking at diamonds for any length of time, chances are you’ve come across some incredibly expensive ones labeled “Hearts and Arrows.” And unless you then spent a lot of time looking very, very closely at diamonds and comparing them like a crazy person (or… you know, like us at Diamond Lighthouse), you probably have no idea what makes those diamonds different from any other. Or what makes them cost so much. Are they really that much better than any other diamond? Are they worth the premium jewelers are asking for them? Would you even want one?
1. What is a Hearts and Arrows Diamond Anyway?
Hearts and Arrows refers to a pattern of light that is visible only in diamonds cut in a very specific way. Hearts and Arrows diamonds are variations of the popular round brilliant cut. These diamonds have near-perfect or perfect optical symmetry, meaning the facets are perfectly aligned, and there is a clear symmetrical pattern of light and dark areas in the diamond.
They are also cut very close to “ideal proportions.” What does that mean? Back in 1919, mathematician Marcel Tolkowsky published a book called Diamond Design in which he outlined the exact proportions a round diamond should have to produce maximum sparkle. It later turned out that cutters don’t need to be so exact. In fact, the Gemological Institute of America found that a slightly different proportion yields a far more brilliant diamond. Even so, Tolkowsky’s proportions are still referred to as “ideal” and diamonds cut that way are very expensive.
Most importantly though, the facets of Hearts and Arrows diamonds are cut to very specific lengths and ratios. For example, the top facet of the diamond, called the table, is smaller than you’d see in a traditional round brilliant cut. The precise facet ratios reliably produce a near-perfectly symmetrical pattern of arrows when the diamond is viewed from the top, and another near-perfectly symmetrical pattern of hearts when the diamond is viewed from the bottom… under special magnification. Yes, you need a special piece of equipment called a Firescope to actually see the pattern. Otherwise, it looks pretty much like any other diamond, albeit a particularly beautiful one.
2. So why are they so expensive?
There are a few reasons. One reason of course, is scarcity. Less than 1 percent of diamonds are cut to Hearts and Arrows proportions. That’s because diamonds cut this precisely use more of the rough diamond than other cuts because of all the additional polishing required. Nearly 15 percent more of the rough is wasted in the creation of Hearts and Arrows diamonds than in a normal round brilliant. But aside from that, there’s a much bigger reason Hearts and Arrows diamonds cost so much more than other round brilliants:
Yes, they do cost more to produce, but the main reason these stones cost so much more than diamonds that are completely identical to the naked eye is marketing. Jewelers started selling Hearts and Arrows diamonds under special brand names and selling them at a premium. Jewelers also lead consumers to believe that the presence of a hearts and arrows pattern was a guarantee of a well-cut diamond. That’s not necessarily true. The appearance of the pattern is a sign of optical symmetry, which is an important part of grading the cut of a diamond, but it’s not the only factor. A diamond could display a Hearts and Arrows pattern and receive a lower cut grade from the GIA. Such a diamond also likely wouldn’t sparkle as brightly as a better-cut stone that didn’t display the patterns. Still, the idea that hearts and arrows guarantee a good cut persists and the jewelers who profit from that misconception aren’t likely to clear things up anytime soon.
3. Are they worth the price?
That depends on your personal preference. If you find a diamond you love and can afford that happens to be a Hearts and Arrows diamond, then go for it. If the diamond you want doesn’t display the pattern, then no big deal. Unless you carry a Firescope around with you at all times, there’s no way anyone, not even a trained gemologist, will know whether your diamond is a Hearts and Arrows just by looking at it. Even a GIA certificate won’t tell you whether the diamond displays hearts and arrows or not. Because it isn’t a reliable indicator of cut quality, the GIA doesn’t even check for the pattern. The only thing they’ll sometimes put on the certificate is “Laser Inscription: H&A.” That doesn’t mean the GIA observed the Hearts and Arrows in the diamond, it just means that someone, presumably the cutter or jeweler, has written “H&A” on the diamond with a laser.
Hearts and Arrows diamonds aren’t visibly different from normal diamonds of similar quality. That doesn’t stop them from being beautiful diamonds, they just might not be worth the premium price they can sometimes command. Especially if you find a diamond of similar or better quality for less. If you are looking to upgrade your diamond and you have your heart (heh) set on Hearts and Arrows, Diamond Lighthouse can help.
Diamond Lighthouse is the only way to guarantee you get the most money for your diamond. That’s because we don’t try to buy your diamond for a low price like pawn shops do. Instead, we reach out to our exclusive network of expert diamond dealers. These are people who know the true value of a diamond, and are willing to pay more than any pawn shop or local jewelry store. And since we only take a small commission after you agree to a final sale, we’re motivated to get you the highest possible offers. With the money you make with Diamond Lighthouse, those Hearts and Arrows prices might not seem so astronomical.