Heart Cut Diamond: A Buying Guide

Heart cut diamond.

The heart shaped diamond is an evocative signifier of true love. They shimmer with two symmetrical halves, creating a bold and romantic look. Heart shaped diamonds are especially popular in Claddagh designs (The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring which represents love, loyalty, and friendship, the hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty.), and offer a distinctive look in any engagement ring setting.

Heart Cut Diamond

Heart cut diamond.

The modified brilliant cut heart shaped diamond is a unique and unmistakable symbol of love. Heart shaped diamonds are very popular in solitaire pendants as well as rings. When choosing a heart, symmetry is a very important characteristic, since it is critical that the two halves of the heart are identical. The cleft (between the two lobes) should be sharp and distinct, and the wings (the sides as they curve down to the point) should have a very slightly rounded shape. Ever the romantic choice, this rare and symbolic cut is the ideal way to wear your heart on your finger, not your sleeve, and there is surely no better way to be in love and in style all at once.

Heart Cut Diamond Buying Guide

Ever the romantic choice. This is a RARE AND SYMBOLIC CUT

Heart Cut Diamond Quick Guide

Unique Features
Exclusive heart shape design
56 to 58 facets
L/W Ratio
Typically 0.90 - 1.10
16th Century
Expert Tip
Good symmetry is essential

Heart Cut Diamond Ring

Heart Cut Diamond Ring

Heart cut diamond ring.

Heart Cut Diamond Features

Heart Cut Diamond Features

Heart cut diamond features.

The heart shape is usually comprised of between 56 and 58 facets, although the number of main pavilion facets may vary between 6, 7 and 8. Additionally, heart shapes are sometimes cut with "French tips," which replace the large bezel facet at the point with star and upper girdle facets. French tips are also used in the marquise and pear shapes. Heart shapes may differ slightly in appearance depending on their make or structure.

The traditional heart shape should have a ratio between 0.90 and 1.10 and be absolutely symmetrical with the lobes (top arches) of even height and breadth, although these specifications may be altered according to personal preferences.

Heart Diamond Body

Heart diamond body.

In determining the length to width ratio for heart shapes, the width is measured at the widest point of the shape from the edge of one lobe to the other. In addition, the heart shape can suffer from a so called "bow-tie effect" when light passing through the diamond casts a shadow across the central facets of the diamond.

Heart Cut Diamond Bow-tie

Heart cut diamond bow-tie.

The bow-tie effect is a phenomenon that affects many fancy-cut diamond shapes, including the heart-shaped diamond. It appears as a black shadow pattern across the diamond that resembles the formation of a bow-tie.

It is a result of light obstruction and facets that are unable to 'bounce' light back towards the eye, causing the dark or black shadows to appear.

Reducing the bow-tie effect requires a skilled cutter who has carefully considered the angles and proportions involved in all of the diamond, not merely those which may display the bow-tie effect.

Heart Cut Diamond Expert Guide

The most important elements to consider with the heart shape are the quality of the curved cut and finish as these determine the sparkle of the gem. The shadow caused by the bow-tie effect can be reduced by altering the depth of the pavilion, and adjusting the angles of the table and facets to better diffuse light in the central area. This effect also occurs in the pear, marquise and oval shapes.

Heart shaped diamonds of less than 0.50 carats may not be a good choice, as the heart shape is more difficult to perceive in smaller diamonds, especially after they are set in prongs. For smaller hearts, a bezel or three prong setting (one prong on each lobe, one prong at the point) will better preserve the heart shape outline of the diamond after it is set.

Heart shaped diamonds come in a variety of silhouettes, from narrow to fat. The choice of a particular silhouette should be dictated by personal preference, though the length to width ratio of a classic heart shaped diamond is approximately 1.00. For hearts that are to be set in pendants, buyers may prefer a slightly narrow cut (1.05 - 1.15), while for hearts set in a solitaire ring, a slightly black wide cut (0.85 - 1.00) may be most appealing.

Heart Cut Diamond - Cut Guide

Cut quality is the most important factor in maximizing brilliance and fire and affecting the overall appearance of heart-shaped diamonds.

Unlike round brilliant and other common diamond cuts, the GIA doesn't provide any information other than polish and symmetry on heart-shaped diamonds. It is very important for you to carefully examine any heart diamond before making a purchase.

As mentioned, since the heart is a quite complex shape there are several factors to be considered to find out if the diamond is cut properly.

A heart-shaped diamond should have a distinct cleft. The point should be obvious as well: otherwise, the diamond will appear rounded. While the point should not necessarily be very sharp, it should divide the bottom section of the diamond into two separate halves.

Check the lobes of the diamond, they should be rounded and perfectly symmetrical. The belly and wings should be slightly rounded creating an ideal heart shape. In other words, try to draw an imaginary straight line down the middle of the diamond: the two halves should look identical with no variations in size and shape.

The chart below serves as a general guideline for evaluating the cut of a heart shaped diamond:

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Heart Cut Diamond Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor

Depth refers to the distance between the culet and the table when a diamond is viewed from the side.

The depth % of a diamond is calculated by dividing the depth of the diamond by the width of the diamond. So, if a diamond is 3 mm in depth, and 4.5 mm in width, its depth % is 66.7.

The lower the depth %, the larger a diamond of a given carat weight will appear when viewed from above (since more of the diamond's size is in its width vs. in its depth).

Depth % is incorporated in the cut grade of a diamond. For this reason, when purchasing a diamond, use the cut grade first (since it balances multiple measurements, not just depth %). Once two diamonds of equal cut are being compared, consider depth % as a further refinement.

Learn more about the anatomy of a diamond.

58 - 62 56 - 57.9 or 62.1 - 66 53 - 55.9 or 66.1 - 71 50 - 52.9 or 71.1 - 74 <50 or >74

The table is the uppermost, flat surface of a diamond, which runs parallel to the plane of the girdle.

The table % of a diamond is calculated by dividing the width of the table facet by the width of the diamond. So, if the table facet is 3 mm across, and the diamond is 4.5 mm wide, its table % is 66.7.

Table % is incorporated in the cut grade of a diamond. For this reason, when purchasing a diamond, use the cut grade first (since it balances multiple measurements, not just table %). Once two diamonds of equal cut are being compared, consider table % as a further refinement.

Learn more about the anatomy of a diamond.

53 - 63 52 or 64 - 65 51 or 66 - 68 50 or 69 - 70 <50 or >70

A diamond's symmetry is the arrangement, size, and shaping of diamond's facets. The facets are the flat planes that run along the surfaces of the diamond. Symmetry is angles and lines that form the placement of the facets. Nowadays, symmetry is completely controlled by the manufacturing process. Machines very carefully cut diamonds to produce the most accurate shapes. However, at times the diamond cutter will leave a symmetry imperfection in the diamond in order to prevent a different inclusion from showing in the finished diamond. Symmetry is a subset of the diamond's cut grade.

Learn more about diamond symmetry.

Good to excellent Good to excellent Good to excellent Fair to Excellent Poor to Excellent

The term "polish" refers to the overall condition of the surfaces of a finished diamond. A rating is assigned based on the amount of polishing lines that are visible. These polishing lines are caused by very small diamond crystals which are embedded in the polishing wheels used by diamond cutters to polish the surface of the diamond after cutting. Diamond polish is important because it can affect the degree to which light is able to pass through a diamond, rendering it more or less brilliant. Diamonds that are laboratory certified with a good, very good, or excellent polish rating are the most desirable. Diamonds that have poor polish will be less brilliant and not as desirable or valuable. Reputable jewellers diamonds are graded after examining the diamond facet by facet.

Learn more about diamond polish.

Good to excellent Good to excellent Good to excellent Fair to Excellent Poor to Excellent

The girdle is the outer edge of the diamond, where the crown (top) meets the pavilion (bottom).

A girdle may be faceted (a series of tiny polished sides going around the diamond), bruted (a single continuous unpolished surface going round the diamond; no longer common), or polished (a bruted girdle that has been polished smooth). Whether a girdle is faceted, bruted, or polished usually has no impact on the appearance or value of the diamond.

The girdle is described according to its width. Often, the width of the girdle varies at different points around the diamond, and is quoted in a range designating the thinnest and thickest point along the girdle (e.g. "Thin - Medium" means the diamond's girdle varies in width from thin at the narrowest point to medium at the widest point).

Learn more about the anatomy of a diamond.

Very Thin - Slightly Thick Very Thin - Slightly Thick Very Thin - Thick Very Thin - Very Thick Ex. Thin - Ex. Thick

The culet (pronounced cue-let) is the small area at the bottom of a diamond's pavilion. The culet can be a point or a very small facet sitting parallel to the table.

The culet size as determined by the GIA, is shown using the following scale:

None, Very Small, Small, Medium, Slightly Large, Large, Very Large.

Any culet size of Medium or smaller will be invisible to the naked eye, and have no negative impact on a diamond's appearance. However, if a culet is Slightly Large or larger, it may allow light entering from the crown to pass straight through the culet facet, reducing the diamond's brilliance. This may also make the culet appear as an inclusion, or create a dead area on the diamond where the light is escaping through the bottom.

Learn more about the anatomy of a diamond.

None Very Small Small Medium > Medium

The length to width (L/W) ratio is calculated by dividing a diamond's length (the longer measure) by its width (the shorter measure that runs perpendicular to length).

For example, an Oval Cut diamond that is 5.00 mm in length and 3.3 mm in width will have a L/W ratio of 1.50 (5.00/3.33). A perfectly round or square diamond will have a length to width ratio of 1.00, but many will be off slightly since they are often not perfectly cut. Any L/W ratio of 1.05 or less will appear perfectly round or square to the naked eye.

L/W ratio is more commonly used in fancy shapes. There is no "ideal" L/W ratio in a fancy shape diamond. What is important is what looks pleasing to you.

0.95 - 1.02 0.89 - 0.94 or 1.03 - 1.05 0.83 - 0.94 or 1.03 - 1.05 0.80 - 0.83 or 1.11 - 1.15 <0.80 or >1.15

Heart diamond cut guide.

Heart Cut Diamond Ratio

Heart cut diamond length to width ratio.

Heart Cut Diamond - Color Guide

Evaluating color in heart shaped diamonds is subjective. Keep in mind that many buyers may actually prefer the ever so slightly warmer colors of a G-H diamond over the cool colorlessness of a D-F diamond. In fact, most of the premium in price associated with heart shaped diamonds at the higher end of the color scale is driven by supply and demand; customers want the D-F color grades, and are willing to pay a premium to get them. In a world without diamond color grading, the price premium for higher grades would be much lower, as the actual differences in color are difficult to perceive.

The color of heart-shaped diamonds is graded on a scale from D to Z, where D signifies a completely colorless diamond and Z means an easily noticeable yellow or brown tint.

Since the heart is a modified version of the round brilliant cut, heart-shaped diamonds reflect a lot of light and it is harder to distinguish any tints in them. This means there is no need to opt for the colorless range, as heart diamonds in the near colorless range still look fairly colorless to the naked eye. The color chart below provides a general guide for evaluating color in heart shaped diamonds:

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Heart Cut Diamond Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor
< .50 ct. D - G H - I J - K L - M > M
.51-1.0 ct. D - F G H - I J - K > K
1.0-2.0 ct. D - F D - F G - H I - J > J
> 2.0 ct. D - F D - F G H - I > I

Fluorescence refers to a diamond's tendency to emit a soft colored glow when subjected to ultraviolet light. Roughly 30% of diamonds fluoresce to some degree.

Colorless (D-F) fluorescent diamonds sell at up to a 15% discount since the fluorescence is perceived as a defect, even though the visible effects of Faint to Medium fluorescence are perceptible only to a gemologist using a special UV light source.

Because the fluorescent glow is usually blue (which is the complementary color to yellow) fluorescence can make diamonds of I-M color appear up to one grade whiter. For this reason, I-M diamonds tend to sell at a slight premium when they possess Medium to Very Strong fluorescence.

Exercise caution in purchasing a diamond with Strong fluorescence in D-F color diamonds or Very Strong fluorescence in G-H color diamonds (which do not possess enough body color to offset the higher degree of fluorescence).

Learn more about diamond fluorescence.

None Faint - Med Strong Very Strong Very Strong

Heart diamond color guide.

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Heart Cut Diamond Color

Heart cut diamond color.

Heart Cut Diamond - Clarity Guide

Like color, evaluating clarity in heart shaped diamonds is subjective. GIA provides excellent help with their clarity grades. Still, it is important to understand that each customer will have a unique standard for clarity. Some may be perfectly comfortable with an inclusion as long as they cannot easily see it. Others may insist on a more technically flawless appearance.

The GIA grades clarity of heart-shaped diamonds on a scale from FL to I3, where FL means a flawless diamond and I3 indicates a heavily included diamond.

As mentioned, its important to understand that each customer has a unique standard for clarity. Some are comfortable with inclusions, others prefer flawless diamonds: however, in general, it is recommended to look for an eye-clean diamond.

With heart-shaped diamonds any clarity grade higher than SI1 should provide an eye-clean appearance, meaning the flaws won't be visible when the jewel is worn. The clarity chart below provides a general guide for evaluating clarity in heart shaped diamond:

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Heart Cut Diamond Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor
< .50 ct. FL - VS2 SI1 - SI2 I1 I2 > I2
.51-1.0 ct. FL - VS1 VS2 - SI1 SI2 I1 - I2 > I2
1.0-2.0 ct. FL - VVS2 VS1 - VS2 SI1 - SI2 I1 > I1
> 2.0 ct. FL - VVS2 VS1 - VS2 SI1 SI2 > SI2

Heart diamond clarity guide.

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Heart Cut Diamond Clarity

Heart cut diamond clarity.

Heart Cut Diamond History & Background

The exact origins of the heart brilliant are unknown although being a modified brilliant cut it may have appeared as early as the 16th century. However, gems which would today be classified as 'triangular with rounded corners' or 'drops' were at one time described as being heart shaped. Indeed, this is evident from the many descriptions in French inventories dating from the middle of the seventeenth century.

The first recorded heart shape diamond appears in a portrait entitled "The Gonzaga Princess," painted circa 1605 by Frans Pourbus the younger. The large piece of jewellery on the princess's left sleeve contains a variety of different cuts, some of which are thought to be versions of the heart like 'drops' popular in France at the time. The heart shape is also mentioned in a book written in 1655 by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, the French merchant traveller who found his fortune in the precious stone trade and famously brought the Hope Diamond to France. In the text, he recalls seeing the "Heart Diamond," a 36-carat heart shaped brilliant in an ornament in the treasure of Aurangzeb, in India.

Heart Cut Diamond History

Heart cut diamond history.

Learn more about what you need to know in our ultimate buying guide, if you're thinking of buying a heart cut diamond. We break it all down from pricing, other shapes comparison and engagement ring setting choices.