The point to me is that if a diamond is cut well enough so that it has a perfect internal symmetry, the odds of it being a dud when it comes to light performance are much slimmer. For me, the H&As really aren't ends in themselves, though I know they are to some.
You can indeed see arrows with the naked eye. They aren't just a marketing ploy, when they are present it says a lot about the precision and alignement of the facets. The device isn't what shows hearts and arrows. In fact all the device is is a loupe and a red filter. The red filter makes it so light coming in the top of the diamond is tinted red, the loupe is to make looking at the diamond easier. H&A have to do with the how well the diamond is cut, they are not an opinion unless someone is trying to pass off a diamond with poor symmetry as a H&A.
Internal symmetry is essential to predict the direction of light, and to make sure that the light returns to the viewer.
That is why the arrows-effect is a very important effect to check in a round brilliant. The hearts-effect is something that you happen to see, when you use the same viewer on a stone, put up side down. The hearts are a consequence of the symmetry, and thus also important.
So, in the stones with the best proportions, the presence of H&A's makes these stones even better. These are true H&A's, and therefore definitely better performing stones.
Unfortunately, one can also find the H&A-effect in some stones with less good proportions. In that case, cutters are going for the marketing-effect only, and not for the true cut-quality.
For any of you out there that do not believe what we tell you about branded hearts and arrows diamonds. Go ahead and buy your beautiful lady a regular class 2B cut diamond with a good symmetry and polish. Later when she is wearing it and sees a beautiful hearts and arrows diamond that blows away her sad diamond, have fun explaining to her why she does not deserve a diamond just as beautiful.
I'm sorry but this is your opinion. You CAN see quite a difference between a H&A stone and an ordinary AGS3 diamond. As Bob pointed out, most probably the ordinary and common diamond will look dead, lifeless when compared with one of those superideals H&A's.
Also, arrows are very visible to the naked eye in H&A's.
I bought my mom one year a close to one carat, decently cut, very white diamond. I don't remember the specs right now, but it's a nice shiner.
Last year, I bought her a .48 (or .46?) unbranded H&A. She kept saying over and over again how she'd never seen a diamond flash that brightly. She gasped when we gave it to her, and then was stunned once more when she later took it out in the sunlight.
The Ekati diamonds, now called Aurias, used to be touted as H&A when they first came out, though. Now they have their regular cuts and their "select cuts" which are H&As. From their website:
"Notice the remarkable symmetry and clarity of the AURIAS Select™ diamond forming eight perfect hearts. The even shading of light in the diamond and its improved brightness is a testament to the cutting and polishing skill involved. What that means to you is a brighter diamond that appears even larger than its actual size."
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