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What is the importance & history of Hearts and Arrows

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oldminer

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This is a constant subject and I am sure people would appreciate knowing more about the H&A effect, the impact its had on the market, its history, and what it does and does not tell you about a diamond.

If I knew the answers I''d write them up, but this is not an area of my highest knowledge. There definitely are folks here with much more knowledge that can tell us the story way better.
 

JohnQuixote

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Date: 9/6/2007 1:23:41 PM
Author:oldminer
This is a constant subject and I am sure people would appreciate knowing more about the H&A effect, the impact its had on the market, its history, and what it does and does not tell you about a diamond.

If I knew the answers I'd write them up, but this is not an area of my highest knowledge. There definitely are folks here with much more knowledge that can tell us the story way better.
Importance: I think many newcomers to PS first want to know if H&A (optical symmetry) benefits performance. After that discussion there is sometimes debate over the diamonds that are being called "H&A" today...since some are 'happy accidents.'


I think it’s safe to say these three things to anyone seeking even a “fair” level of patterning:

1. Just because a diamond shows the H&A pattern, no matter how precise, does not mean it has premium light return. Light return is far more important to performance. An ideal-scope or ASET image is helpful in terms showing light return, where H&A photos only show optical symmetry/craftsmanship.

2. Some configurations benefit from optical symmetry more than others (not limited to rounds).Some may be better with asymmetry.

3. In diamonds with top light return the benefits of optical symmetry are increased contrast, consistency in performance and light getting in and out of the stone with more intensity.


With that said…whenever we get into any extremes (rarity or cut quality) we cross into a niche area that may apply to the few more than it applies to the many. PS is a perfect place for these people.I want to be clear that my observations are now crossing into a niche area, which may or may not be of interest to the casual shopper…

The superideal phenomenon was not a blithe discovery, nor was it common before the 80s.Considerable time, research and development was spent by Kazumi Okuda, Eightstar and Japanese cutters two decades ago in the quest to produce the highest possible levels of precision.There are compelling tales about these pursuits in the name of cutting craftsmanship - and symbolism (for anyone into such things).See the thread Strm linked.There used to be some compelling stories on the Eightstar website as well.

Since the 1980s our machines, tools and measuring devices have improved.Now a percentage of well-cut diamonds, particularly near the center of the AGS0 range, show a 'near’ H&A level of optical symmetry as a by-product; what some cutters would call a ‘happy accident.’ They have the benefits of optical symmetry - and some places go ahead sell these by-products as “H&A diamonds” - charging a premium - but don’t confuse them with the diamonds purposely taken to very high precision by their makers.

There is no official definition of how precise patterns must be to be called H&A.So, like the term ‘ideal,’ anyone selling ‘H&A’ diamonds can apply their own internal standards and the standards vary (more info).

Diamonds held to the uppermost levels of craftsmanship are valued by a niche market of enthusiasts for the care, precision and consistency demonstrated in their cutting as much as any visible effects.I loved the crispness of the patterning and edges to the contrast in H&A diamonds before I ever had a financial stake in the biz, but I’m also the kind of guy who will obsess on the most trivial settings on my stereo and TV - things I may be 'sensing' as much as hearing and seeing.

There is also the attractiveness of things that are rarified.Just like some people like D color or IF-VVS clarity the H&A enthusiasts love cut precision.Technically, in the coming years we’ll continue to learn more about the influence of symmetry/asymmetry.Marty Haske is doing regarding OS and the purity of spectral colors.The AGSL is noting symmetry/asymmetry effects on shapes other than RB.The cut group has the MSS going and Octonus continues to advance diamond cut software. It's an exciting time to be involved and paying attention.

All diamond decisions are personal choices with no right or wrong answers.D won’t be the choice for everyone, nor will IF, nor will superduperchargerideal.There are flavors for everyone and, whether perceptual or simply ‘mind-clean,’ people should choose what their hearts desire… Especially because…(wait for it)…it’s all in the hearts.
 

Lynn B

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Excellent post, John... thanks!

I don't think I've ever seen an H&A diamond that didn't also have great light return, so my opinions are based on well-performing H&A stones. So from a consumer's perspective, I ADORE the H&A pattern because I love the symmetry and "orderliness" of it... non-H&A diamonds just look rather "chaotic" to me. Plus, I LOVE looking at the arrows, especially when the spectral colors play off of them
... I find that part of my diamond totally entrancing. And apparently I'm not fussy about the SIZE of the arrows... I am as mesmerized by the arrows in my 2.36 stone as I am my .45 studs, and even down to my itty bitty .02 ACA melee!

Now if I HAD to choose between a non-ideal cut diamond that displayed H&A, but wasn't an overall good performer -- OR -- a well-cut, well-performing non-H&A diamond...I would definitely choose the latter, better-performing stone. Sparkle and beauty will always rule for me. BUT DANG! I WOULD SURE MISS THOSE ARROWS!!!
 

oldminer

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John, that sure is an excellent posting. It is exactly the kind of response that makes folks find such benefits on Pricescope.
I am going to go read the recommended thread right now. THANK YOU!
 

strmrdr

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importance,
To me there is really 3 parts too it.
The first is that the precise arrows are kewl too look at:
http://journal.pricescope.com/Articles/11/1/Hearts--Arrows-Diamonds---Its-not-all-about-light-return.aspx

The second is the workmanship/craftsmanship that goes into tight optically symmetrical diamonds is a wonder too me and that it is done mostly by hand is even more amazing.
I have always admired fine craftsmanship from the finest woods worked too perfection to the machining of a finely tuned engine to the combining of the art of woodworking and metalsmithing in firearms, to the art and science of a 3 century old re-curve bow.
Fine craftsmanship speaks for itself too those that look for it.

The last and hardest to qualify is increased performance, I believe but would have a hard time explaining it in under 5000 words that across the widest types of lighting that with 2 diamonds with the same average measurements that the tight optically symmetrical diamond would perform better in more light conditions.
The reasons why are many but here is a few:
More effective reflectors
Aligned reflectors working together.
With the right lgf% a better balance of contrast and brightness.
 

JohnQuixote

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I thought this thread could use some graphics.

Here are three diamonds of distinctly different cut precision. All three have good light return (AGS0, AGS0, GIA EX). When seen in the hearts and arrows viewer we would regard their cut precision as true (cut specifically with H&A in mind) near-true (a ''happy accident'' that''s often sold as H&A) and non (pretty obvious). Interpretations vary; this image shows three levels we consider distinctive.

true-near-non-forPS2.jpg
 
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I haven't started reading through this thread yet, though it looks to be short enough, but is that middle row what would most commonly be expected of AGS0, with a few particularly funky examples as you provided in the other thread showing up every now and then(i'll get the link later)? or would there be a large quantity of those particularly funky looking hearts formations found amongst AGS0 diamonds? (and i suppose i should stipulate here TRUE DQD AGS0 diamonds, in that the light performance has also achieved a 0 based on the angle of each facet being taken into account)

great, now I am fluttering and reposting between the two different threads: quick recap of my question in the other thread, as I finally recalled exactly what I was thinking today.

I was imagining that a variation in the face down optical symmetry while ALSO having IDEAL face up symmetry might have an equivalent or similar impact on the light performance between those relevant related angles?

but I feel I have forgotten something I learned once. as you know, just recently got into the whole diamond thing...need to go check out the link gary provided on the other page and see what it is I may have forgotten...
 

JohnQuixote

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This is in response to the question "will all AGS0 diamonds show H&A?" (original post).

The answer depends on the standards applied. How picky is the buyer?

An abundance of diamonds that consumers see showcased on PS are going to show a true or near-true level of optical symmetry.
The companies that take the time to put up magnified photos, reflector and heart images for every diamond tend to invest in such precisely cut inventory. However, this is a nicely filtered look at top cut precision - and nowhere near a realistic look at global cut quality.


Many AGS0 diamonds will show at least a near-H&A level of patterning as a by-product of cutting but some will not. Here is a non-H&A AGS0 (1.02ct, 57T, 40.6 PA, 34.4 CA). These are great numbers (!) and it was a great looking stone but it doesn''t have anywhere near the top level of H&A patterning - which wasn’t important to the client.



Note that this diamond was graded using a proportions DQD pre-2005, but the cut guides and PGS give it 0 light performance.
 
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does that diamond have Ideal symmetry and/or light performance as graded by AGS, rather than a Sarin approximation for light performance?
 

JohnQuixote

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The only place consumers see collections of ideal-scope, ASET and hearts images is in a place like Pricescope.

That can leave the impression that this kind of cut precision is "normal."
It’s absolutely not.If every diamond in the Pricescope search engine had accompanying reflector/hearts photos you would see much greater variation - but even that would be skimming the top.If diamonds in commercial markets had accompanying reflector/hearts photos it would quickly become apparent how discriminating the PS palate is.

I invested some time to update a set of 0.90ct examples we put together some time ago for a workshop, showing varying levels optical symmetry and their corresponding old AGS proportions grades, predicted current AGS LP grades and GIA proportions grades.It is a more realistic look at global cut precision (
for the full-size graphic click here).

different-os-examples-reduced.jpg
 

JohnQuixote

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Date: 9/21/2007 9:09:47 PM
Author: WorkingHardforSmallRewards

I haven't started reading through this thread yet, though it looks to be short enough, but is that middle row what would most commonly be expected of AGS0, with a few particularly funky examples ... showing up every now and then (i'll get the link later)? or would there be a large quantity of those particularly funky looking hearts formations found amongst AGS0 diamonds? (and i suppose i should stipulate here TRUE DQD AGS0 diamonds, in that the light performance has also achieved a 0 based on the angle of each facet being taken into account)
In our experience there are many near-true examples in AGS0 (most of our own 'Expert Selection' falls into that category). The 'funky'
(non H&A) examples are logical by-products of things that happen when cutting:The brillianteerer chasing out inclusions, correcting aberrations that were necessary in cross-working or making some other adjustment which doesn’t impact light performance but skews the facets enough that the optical symmetry is distorted. Distortion is especially easy in the hearts, even if the arrows look ok.


Date: 9/21/2007 9:01:14 PM
Author: WorkingHardforSmallRewards

and I know its a little late in the game for me to be asking this (mostly because I settled on AGS0 DQD for a variety of other reasons as the document I was most comfortable purchasing a diamond with online) but is AGS Ideal symmetry actually the same thing as GIA Excellent? or is the Ideal symmetery held to a somewhat more stringent set of standards? I had thought that they were the same for a long time now, but now I am second guessing myself and thinking Ideal is harder to achieve all of a sudden?
Maybe yes, maybe no – it’s argued. But relative to this thread neither lab looks at optical symmetry (we wish they did!).They judge proportion symmetry variations - out of round, wavy girdle, culet off-center, etc - and facet symmetry variations - non-pointing facets, misshapen facets, etc. There are many things to check for so graders are busy with the current list. I've graded many diamonds in my GIA coursework thus far and can vouch.Only darkfield and diffused lighting is used. No reflectors are involved so there is no opportunity to assess pattern even if someone wanted to.As a for-instance, look up AGS0 princess cut diamonds and check out the different levels of optical symmetry. It's no different for rounds.

Happily, the boutique labs run by our PS appraisers do assess optical symmetry in diamonds (those sold as H&A) and use suitably strict standards, for those interested in that assessment.



Date: 9/21/2007 9:29:09 PM
Author: WorkingHardforSmallRewards
does that diamond have Ideal symmetry and/or light performance as graded by AGS, rather than a Sarin approximation for light performance?

It was graded by AGS pre-2005 and received AGS0 in cut. That means it passed the requirements for ideal polish and symmetry and was graded before the light performance metric came out. Before posting it I checked it against the current cutting guides and the PGS software. Both give it 0, so I'd wager a paycheck the lab would, especially since it's in the middle of a 'cherry' performance zone (40.6/34.4!). It's not run-of-the-mill but you've been calling for an AGS0 example that isn't H&A so there you go.

There are others but the reason such photos are not in abundance is because they don't serve a purpose for sellers.Meanwhile, the opposite is true for those specializing in diamonds with top optical symmetry; they put photos out for each diamond to demonstrate the precision(which in turn creates the whole 'spoiled' atmosphere of elite photos on PS that lend to the impression that spawned your questions in the first place).


I can sense this may be deflating you (?) If so it's not my intent, and I’m certainly not criticizing any diamond, sym or asym. If you haven't done so, maybe you will read my first post in this thread, putting the whole "pursuit of H&A" business into its niche perspective…(esp the part that reads "I want to be clear...") This subject has only as much value as one personally assigns it. However, there are diamantaires who have dedicated their lives to pursuing this top level of cut precision and sellers, collectors, appraisers, science pros and everyday shoppers who value it as well. For their sake - and the sake of newcomers who are just learning - this is healthy discussion.
 

Garry H (Cut Nut)

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This is what GIA had to say on the topic.
(I would add that they totally misconstrued my opinion on the issue and they missed the primary role of the Ideal-scope. They also neglected to cover HCA, but that probaly was not an oversight - it was probably more about patent issues)

http://lgdl.gia.edu/pdfs/cut_fall2004.pdf the "Foundation" G&G article which susbsequently has become the basis of their patent application for Facetware.

Optical Symmetry.
One aspect of pattern-related
scintillation that has gained more attention in
recent years is often called “optical symmetry” (see,
e.g., Cowing, 2002; Holloway, 2004). Many people
in the trade use this term for “branded” diamonds
that show near-perfect eight-fold symmetry by displaying
eight “arrows” in the face-up position (and
typically eight “hearts” table-down) when observed
with specially designed viewers. To investigate the
possible benefits of optical symmetry, we included
several such diamonds in our observation testing.
We found that although many (but not all) diamonds
with distinct optical symmetry were rated
highly by our observers, other diamonds (with very
different proportions and, in many cases, no discernible
optical symmetry) were ranked just as high.
Therefore, both types of diamonds can receive high
grades in our system.

It is important to note:
1. GIA mostly surveyed trade people who hate doing business with H&A''s
2. GIA''s cut leacturers told me last year in their class that many first time diamond people in their classes do not like the star effect, but after they learn a bit, they all change their mind and rave about the bright star patterns.

My own take on the issue that many Pscope people raise about their preference for the bright star pattenr they see in h&A''s diamonds is that around 30% of todays diamonds have the required symmetry and preoportions to show this effect (which i like too).

And any round diamond that looks good through the ideal-scope (perhaps around 5- 10% or all stones and maybe 20% of certed stones) will certainly show that star in an unmagnified view that will be equally as good as the one with hearts and arrows.

Aboe that is the effect and strictness of it which becomes a "mind clean" rather than "eye clean" issue
 
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