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Hearts & Arrows (cut, branded/non-branded, standards)

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JohnQuixote

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HEARTS & ARROWS (a style of cut)

Hearts & Arrows is the term used for a round brilliant diamond that exhibits a kaleidoscopic pattern of hearts in the pavilion and arrows in the crown due to the precise physical symmetry of its cut. These patterns may be seen and photographed using a reflecting and magnifying device called a Hearts & Arrows viewer.

Just because a diamond is cut to traditional ideal proportions does not mean that it will have the Hearts & Arrows pattern. All pavilion main, lower girdle, upper girdle, kite and star facets must be in precise alignment with each other. If the cut of the diamond is even slightly asymmetric the pattern will be uneven or distorted. To make this distinction, Hearts & Arrows diamonds are sometimes called “Superideals.”

To acquire this level of patterning precision the cutter must sacrifice more rough material and put in more time than a regular round or a standard ideal cut requires. Logically, these diamonds come at a premium. A Hearts & Arrows diamond may not necessarily be more beautiful than a non Hearts & Arrows diamond that is cut exceedingly well. However, these “Superideals” are valued for their uniqueness and quality as the ultimate in cutting precision in the world of ideal diamonds.

HEARTS: When viewed through the bottom or pavilion, a perfectly symmetrical pattern, consisting of equally sized and shaped hearts can be seen.

ARROWS: When viewed from the top or crown, a perfectly symmetrical pattern, consisting of equally sized and shaped arrows can be seen.


IMPORTANT: This level of "supersymmetry" is beyond what labs currently analyze and callsymmetry on their grading reports (click for information on what labs currently grade). Therefore, a diamond could receive a grade of "Ideal" or "Excellent" in symmetry but the patterning could still be out.

heartsandarrows.jpg
 

JohnQuixote

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BRANDED AND NON-BRANDED HEARTS & ARROWS

When researching Hearts & Arrows diamonds, bear in mind that they may be sold as “non-branded” or “branded.”

“Branded” Hearts & Arrows usually meet a specific set of criteria guaranteed by vendors of the brand.

“Non-Branded” Hearts & Arrows may or may not meet a specific set of criteria, depending on the vendor's policies.
 

JohnQuixote

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STANDARDS FOR HEARTS & ARROWS

There are no official standards for the level of precision a Hearts & Arrows diamond must display. Therefore, the quality of diamonds being sold as Hearts & Arrows varies dramatically. If we regard the most acute level of physical (and resultant optical) symmetry as “True” Hearts & Arrows, then examples of “phony” Hearts & Arrows may be found on the PriceScope tutorial, here.

What constitutes “acceptable” for Hearts & Arrows is arguable. Perhaps one day labs will become involved in the grading of Hearts & Arrows cut quality, but for now the consumer must educate him/herself and decide what level of quality is right for his/her circumstance.

With that in mind, this 10-point “True” Hearts & Arrows checklist is designed to assist the most picky shoppers.

Checklist:

1. Lab grade of Ideal (GIA Ex) in symmetry (meet point symmetry)
2. Lab grade of Ideal (GIA Ex) in polish with great luster

3. Uniformity and symmetry in both hearts and arrows patterns.
4. Pattern is well centered.
5. No broken, split or significantly different sized hearts.
6. Hearts slightly separate from arrowheads above.
7. No misshaped arrowheads, broken shafts or misalignment of shaft to head.
8. Arrow points all meet the girdle.
9. No distortion caused by facet yaw.
10. No unevenness caused by extreme variance.
 

JohnQuixote

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HEARTS, OR PAVILION PATTERNING

Pavilion patterning is exceedingly complex. This is why true patterning is so rare.

When you view a precise arrow in the crown of a diamond you are merely seeing 1 pavilion main aligned and reflecting off of 1 other. But for each heart to appear properly in the pavilion requires the precise alignment and reflection of 6 facets.

Example

1. Main pavilion facets outlined, and one heart highlighted in red.

2. The main pavilion facet reflects on the opposite side and the lower girdle half separates the arrowhead above the heart.

3. 4 facets must combine to make one heart and one arrowhead on the pavilion. An additional 2 upper girdle facets finish up and square off the tips of the ‘rabbit ears’ of the heart.

4. 6 facets total create 1 Heart (2 main pavilion facets, 2 Lower girdle facets and 2 upper girdle facets). Picture 4A: without upper girdle facets. 4B: With upper girdle facets in place.

HeartsFormed.jpg
 

JohnQuixote

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Optical dynamics for hearts patterning as foreseen by the cutter intending to optimize light return in the pavilion.

This material was presented by Brian Gavin at the International Diamond Cut Conference in Moscow, 2004 (page 42, for those who have purchased the IDCC proceedings).

WhiteflashHeartsFormed2.jpg
 

JohnQuixote

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ARROWS, OR CROWN PATTERNING

Here is how pavilion mains cause the perception of arrows as seen through the crown. Note how much simpler the reflection dynamics are. It takes only 1 pavilion main reflecting off of 1 other for a crisp arrow.

This is why diamonds cut to proven proportions may naturally display arrows: It is very logical for pavilion mains to be aligned with each other as a fundamental of cutting to a tight range. Pavilion patterning is much harder to acquire.

arrowsform3.jpg
 

JohnQuixote

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TRUE, NEAR, NON

Interpretations of what may be considered true-Hearts, near-Hearts and non-Hearts patterning.

Note: All three are diamonds with traditional ‘ideal’ proportions.

[ Example only. There are no official standards and we respect the right to different interpretations. ]

TrueNearNonHearts.jpg
 

JohnQuixote

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Example of a diamond that seems to have symmetrical arrows in normal conditions, but the patterning is far from true (an ideal-scope or ASET image would also reveal crown asymmetry in a case like this).

yuckheart006.jpg
 

JohnQuixote

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ARROWS - OBSCURATION AND CONTRAST

In diamond photos when you see dark arrows it is caused by ''obscuration.'' The dark areas are the pavilion mains, where light would normally enter and exit from directly above. The camera is blocking that direct light, so those areas go dark in the static and centered view.

The same thing happens when a diamond is still and the viewer''s head is directly over it. When unobscured, such as on a wearer''s hand in a casual setting, those arrows are not so obvious.

The difference in a diamond, unobscured to obscured, is a measure of that diamond''s contrast. Remember that diamonds are dynamic. With good contrast you will see a sharp on/off quality to the scintillation as the diamond moves, as well as other benefits. A nice, precise pattern of arrows with contrast is evidence of good cutting and symmetry. Good H&A diamonds are not the only ones that have this effect - many well-cut diamonds show it.

As an example of the difference contrast via obscuration makes, here are cosine squared images of 2 stones. They are identical, except that a 30 degree cone of obscuration, equivalent to an observer’s head, is present in the one on the right.

080Obscure30ObscureHA2.jpg
 

Regular Guy

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Date: 7/14/2005 7:30:32 PM
Author: JohnQuixote

ARROWS, OR CROWN PATTERNING

Here is how pavilion mains cause the perception of arrows as seen through the crown. Note how much simpler the reflection dynamics are. It takes only 1 pavilion main reflecting off of 1 other for a crisp arrow.

This is why diamonds cut to proven proportions may naturally display arrows: It is very logical for pavilion mains to be aligned with each other as a fundamental of cutting to a tight range. Pavilion patterning is much harder to acquire.
Hey, John, I guess I''ve been exposed to this material many dozens of times over the past year, but this (series of reviews here and) exposition is really very clear.

Many thanks!

(Maybe Leonid will remove the kudos so you can add more, but couldn''t help to share.)
 

JohnQuixote

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Ira, thank you. It's been a bit of a project - I appreciate the note.


Lab-Graded Symmetry vs Hearts and Arrows Symmetry (aka Patterning or Optical Symmetry)

Both diamonds were photographed using a hearts & arrows viewer.
Both received the top lab grade (Ideal/Excellent) in symmetry.

The difference in facet relationships is obvious, but on paper the symmetry grade is the same. This is how patterning - or optical symmetry - is not the same thing as lab graded symmetry.

(More on symmetry here)

AllExSym.jpg
 

JohnQuixote

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HEARTS AND ARROWS AND LIGHT PERFORMANCE

US labs have no grading standards for optical symmetry, so examples of true Hearts and Arrows patterning are rare. Hearts and Arrows diamonds may have symmetrical cut, but not all are cut to ideal parameters and not all have optimum light return.

If you elect to pay the Hearts and Arrows premium for the finest craftsmanship, it's sensible to be sure you are getting optimum performance as well. At the least, a top cut grade from a reputable lab and (preferably) an ideal-scope or ASET image are crucial for determing top light performance, in addition to observable optical symmetry.
 

JohnQuixote

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EXAMPLES OF DIFFERENT HEARTS AND ARROWS STANDARDS

As Hearts and Arrows popularity grows more factories attempt to produce them and standards vary. If we regard the most acute level of optical symmetry as true, then examples of Hearts and Arrows diamonds that depart from true to some degree are becoming more commonplace ("phony" H&A are illustrated in the PriceScope tutorial, here).

Here are examples of differing standards for Hearts and Arrows diamonds:

AllSoldAsHeartsAndArrowsRndm.jpg
 
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