Buying a Heart-Cut Diamond (Tips and Tricks)
What is a Heart-Cut Diamond?
Heart cuts create diamonds shaped like the traditional symbol of love, an idealized heart. A heart cut looks more or less like this: ❤️.
Let’s get familiar with the anatomy of the heart cut. It consists of seven different parts:
- Cleft: the point that’s turned inward at the top of the stone.
- Lobes: the two rounded edges, also at the top of the stone.
- Belly: the middle of the diamond.
- Wings: the two sides.
- Point: the bottom point of the stone.
Fancy cuts — like hearts as well as ovals, pears, and emeralds — are evaluated differently than ever-popular rounds. Rounds receive cut grades from gemology labs, based on a very detailed, well-established grading system. Fancy cuts or “fancies” don’t. The process is much more subjective, ultimately coming down to the overall appeal of the stone to the customer instead.
Because hearts don’t receive cut grades from gem labs, it’s important for you to decide if you like the shape of a particular stone. Some may prefer a rounder, chubbier heart shape, while others prefer a more elongated heart-shaped diamond. Simply put, does the shape look good to you?
Many factors contribute to the visual appeal of the heart cut, but symmetry plays an especially important role. To judge a heart-cut diamond’s symmetry, draw an imaginary line down the middle of the stone, from the cleft to the point. If the sides of the diamond look like mirror images, then it’s symmetrical.
Since the heart shape itself is probably what attracts most consumers to this cut, check the following areas carefully.
Cleft and Point
Your heart should have a well-defined cleft and point. If the cleft isn’t deep enough, your diamond will look more pear-shaped.
Without a pronounced point, your heart will look too rounded. This doesn’t mean the point must be “pointy.” You might even prefer a slightly rounded look. However, the point should still clearly divide the diamond into two distinct halves.
Lobes and Wings
Make sure the lobes are well-shaped, not too rounded or too pointy. Otherwise, your diamond won’t have a nice heart shape. If the lobes or wings are uneven, the whole stone will look lopsided.
What’s the Best Carat Weight for a Heart-Cut Diamond?
Although people may refer to carat as a measure of a diamond’s size, it actually refers to the diamond’s weight. For engagement rings, a one-carat diamond has become the standard. That works as a good lower limit for a heart cut, too. However, larger diamonds — whether rounds or fancies — cost more.
Try to choose a heart that’s at least one carat in weight. You’ll probably have a hard time distinguishing the cleft in anything smaller. As a result, heart shapes will generally look less defined at smaller weights.
Are Heart-Cut Diamonds Expensive?
Heart-cut diamonds generally cost about 15% to 20% less than rounds. Take a look at these examples from Blue Nile.
However, they often cost more than other fancy-cut diamonds of the same weight because cutting hearts well can be difficult. A stone over one carat will also highlight exceptional cutting.
With hearts, don’t sacrifice the carat or cut in order to save money. If you’re on a tight budget and really want a heart shape, you can compromise in other areas such as color and clarity. Hearts don’t have as much variance in color as other cuts, and they tend to hold onto a little more color naturally. When you can’t sacrifice shape or carat weight, its helpful to be open to exploring a wider range of diamond properties.
Shopping for lab-created heart diamonds is another way you can maximize your budget. Since synthetic crystals can be “made-to-order” in more regular shapes than natural crystals, diamond cutters will waste less rough cutting them. Synthetic rough is also “cleaner,” with fewer flaws to cut out than natural rough. The more rough that cutters can “convert” into sellable finished stones, the less those stones will cost the consumer.
Do Heart-Cut Diamonds Have a Bowtie?
Some fancy cuts, like ovals and marquises, show what’s called a bowtie, or dark area, running through the middle of the stone. This occurs when light enters the diamond through the table, the large horizontal facet at the top of the stone, but isn’t reflected back to the viewer. To some degree, all heart-cut diamonds show this bowtie effect, too, as well as shadowing around the edges.
Some consumers have actually come to appreciate the appearance of bowties in ovals. However, bowties in hearts don’t have quite the same charm. They take attention away from the heart shape itself. Usually, diamond cutters will strive to minimize the bowtie effect by making sure each facet reflects as much light as possible back to the viewer.
Where Should I Buy a Heart-Cut Diamond?
Since heart-cut diamonds don’t receive cut grades from gem labs, you simply must examine these stones in person or through an online vendor that provides tools and videos for you to view them in 360°. Both Blue Nile and James Allen make it possible for you to view your diamond this way as well as with magnified videos. Their online tools will also help you examine a stone’s shape, clarity, color, and performance.
If you’re shopping for hearts, examine the stones you’re considering from several angles, either in person or via videos if you’re buying online. Since a heart cut is actually a modified brilliant round cut, it should reflect as much light as possible back to the viewer. Move your diamond in the light (or use online tools) and watch for three things:
- Brilliance: how the diamond reflects white light, “brightness.”
- Scintillation: how the diamond sparkles, the contrast between light and dark points.
- Dispersion: how the diamond breaks up light into many colors within the stone, its “fire.”
Shopping online for a special shape like a heart gives you access to a larger selection than a brick-and-mortar store usually keeps in stock. However, if you want something one-of-a-kind made just for you, the experts at CustomMade will not only work with you to design the engagement ring but also help you source the perfect heart-cut diamond for your project.
What’s the Best Color for Heart-Cut Diamonds?
If you’re looking for significant savings on a heart, compromising on color is a good choice. Of course, that’s assuming you’re staying with white or colorless diamonds, the kind most commonly used for engagement rings.
All colorless diamonds actually receive a color grade. Stones that come closest to colorless get a D, the highest grade. Stones with slight yellow or brown tints get letter grades that go further down the alphabet as they show more color, all the way to Z.
For a colorless heart-cut diamond, you can find stones with color grades as low as H that will still appear white. However, keep in mind that stones larger than one carat will show more color. Therefore, the larger the heart, the higher the color grade you should consider. As a type of brilliant cut, hearts will showcase brilliance instead of color, so they actually hide color better than some other fancy shapes.
Do Hearts Have Lower Clarity Than Other Diamond Cuts?
Clarity grades for diamonds in the GIA system, the most widely used system, range from “Flawless” (F) to “Included” (I), with several grades in between. Some grades even have numbered subdivisions. Higher numbers mean a higher grade.
A diamond doesn’t have to be graded Flawless to be beautiful. After all, gemologists grade these diamonds under 10X magnification. Instead of looking for a heart-cut diamond with a high clarity grade, look for one that’s eye-clean. That means it has no flaws visible to the naked eye. It may take some searching, but you can even go down as low as an SI1 clarity grade and still find an eye-clean diamond. (And keep in mind that the lower the clarity grade, the lower the price).
Larger diamonds tend to show inclusions more easily. So, if you’re shopping for hearts one carat or larger, you’re likely to encounter stones with eye-visible inclusions. However, diamond cutters have ways to hide flaws in hearts.
First, brilliant cuts can hide flaws easily in the many reflections of their facets. Fortunately, hearts are cut in a brilliant style. Second, flaws on the outer edges of a diamond can be hidden by the setting. A well-placed prong or bezel setting can cover obvious flaws.
What’s the Best Length-to-Width Ratio for a Heart-Cut Diamond?
A stone’s length-to-width ratio is a useful bit of information for jewelers as well as consumers. The length of the heart divided by its width (L/W) will indicate how thick or thin your stone appears when viewed from the top. Both brick-and-mortar jewelers and online vendors should provide this information. Blue Nile even lets you specify L/W values when you search their inventory online.
For a heart-cut diamond, the L/W value should be as close to 1.00 as possible. According to Blue Nile, the traditional L/W value for hearts ranges from 0.90 to 1.10. Stones beyond that range may look too broad or too narrow. (Stones with a L/W below 1.00 will look wider. Those with a L/W higher than 1.00 will look thinner). As always, you’ll have to judge for yourself what kind of heart shape looks best to you.
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Choosing a Setting for Your Heart-Cut Diamond
The right engagement ring setting can enhance both the brilliance and color of your diamond as well as protect it. It can also help define and emphasize the shape of a smaller heart.
If you like the classic solitaire arrangement, a four-prong setting will let more light reach your stone. This will help maximize the brilliance of the heart-cut diamond. A six-prong setting will let in less light but offers more protection. Of course, a solitaire bezel setting will provide the most protection but allows far less light to enter the diamond. On the other hand, it can help hide inclusions on the edges of the stone, too.
A classic halo setting will surround your center stone with smaller diamonds. This will not only add elegance and sparkle but also make the center diamond appear larger. (That’s especially helpful if you have a heart-cut diamond smaller than one carat).
A three-stone setting will also help the center stone appear larger. Two smaller side stones, either diamonds or colored gemstones, are placed on either side of the heart. If the side stones have non-heart shapes, this can also help emphasize the heart shape of the center stone.
Whatever setting you choose, make sure the point of the heart is well-protected. This is the area most vulnerable to damage if it strikes a hard surface. Although diamonds are famously resistant to scratching, they can still fracture or chip if struck hard enough. Unprotected points can also catch on clothing or other objects. You can read our article on protective ring settings to learn more.
Hearts are unique and special gems that are perfect for declaring your love. To properly display the heart shape, look for a diamond larger than one carat. Also, pay attention to the look of the heart and its symmetry and avoid the bowtie effect.
Hearts will look good with any setting and ring metal.
To find the best price for hearts, you can compromise clarity and color but don’t skimp on the carat weight and cut. The size and cut are essential for showcasing the heart’s distinctive shape.
Use these tips to find the best heart-shaped diamond for you and have fun with this quintessential symbol of love.