Out of the 4Cs, cut quality is undoubtedly the most important because of the impact it has on the visual appearance of the diamond. Yet, it may come as a surprise that only a small percentage of the world's polished diamonds are cut to meet the GIA excellent or AGS ideal standards.
Out of the small percentage of excellent/ideal cut diamonds lies a subset of super ideal cut diamonds that are polished to the strictest standards and cut precision. These diamonds not only exhibit superlative brilliance and sparkle, they also display distinct hearts & arrows (h&a) patterning when seen under a special viewer.
A super ideal cut diamond is usually cut to a very tight range of specifications that goes above and beyond the criteria need for an AGS ideal or GIA excellent cut grade.
Basically, the performance of a super ideal cut diamond is fine-tuned to display maximum fire, brilliance and scintillation. Using precision engineering and polishing techniques, the diamond's contrast patterning and sparkle distribution are carefully crafted.
One of the criteria for a super ideal cut diamond is the presence of crisp hearts & arrows patterning. This kaleidoscope phenomenon can only be achieved when individual facets are precisely positioned and sized in relation to each other.
There are 4 main things you need to bear in mind when shopping for a super ideal diamond:
In order for a diamond to display maximum light return and the best sparkle possible, the facets of the diamond have to be planned and polished carefully to ideal proportions. Through scientific research and experience, we have compiled the following table you can use as a reference when selecting a diamond:
|Table %||54.0% to 57.0%|
|Depth %||61.0% to 62.5%|
|Crown Angle||34.0 to 35.0 degrees|
|Pavilion Angle||40.6 to 41.0 degrees|
|Lower Girdles||75% to 80%|
|Star Facets||50% to 55%|
|Girdle Thickness||Thin - Medium - Slightly Thick|
Diamonds that fall outside of these proportions would usually result in a diamond with mediocre light return. This is due to the physics of light and how light is refracted/reflected when traversing the diamond.
Just because a diamond possesses ideal proportions, it doesn't automatically qualify the diamond as a super ideal cut. You will need to rely on more tangible data for confirmation (see below for details).
Bad proportions will almost always guarantee a poor light performance, but good proportions are only a prerequisite and don't guarantee ideal light performance.
Idealscope & ASET Scope
Hearts & Arrows Viewer
Regardless of what the jeweller may claim or say about the diamonds they are selling, you always want to verify details yourself.
A super ideal cut diamond will display pristine hearts & arrows patterning which is extremely difficult to achieve. See our comprehensive guide about the technical guidelines for analyzing a diamond's optical symmetry. If you are unsure, you can refer to the link and use it as a reference for making comparisons.
Tip: Always pay more attention to the hearts patterning. Properly formed hearts require super precise facet placements and proportioning. Any slight deviations in facet alignments will show up in the pavilion view instead of the table (arrows) view.
As an example, the image below might be passed off as a "great" diamond to the untrained eyes. However, what it really shows is a poor patterning with malformed hearts and inconsistent spacings.
This type of hearts patterning is indicative of a very bad cut precision and craftsmanship. And to state the obvious, this stone would not pass our standards for a "true" hearts & arrows diamond.
A super ideal cut diamond needs to fulfill many strict technical criteria before it can be rightly labeled as such. However, at the end of the day, the tangible output that matters to most consumers is the sparkle and brilliance the diamond displays.
Without light performance, any optical symmetry that the stone possesses is naught. What's the point of having a diamond that displays nice patternings under an H&A viewer if it appears dull and lifeless when worn?
To make an objective analysis of light performance, there are two tools you can use: the Idealscope and ASET. Both of these tools offer an easy analysis of how light would interact with the diamond.
Here's what you should expect to see in a super ideal cut diamond:
The ASET and Idealscope provide objective data you can use to assess a diamond's performance easily.
Remember, no 2 diamonds are exactly the same. Optical symmetry doesn't necessarily translate into better light performance.
While this may sound like common sense, there are many consumers who fall prey to deceptive marketing tactics and end up overpaying for their purchase. Bear this in mind: lab reports are not made equal.
Grade bumping is a common issue where a low-quality diamond (usually with dubious certification) is marketed to be the equivalent of a similarly graded GIA diamond.
As a result of misrepresentation and inaccurate grading, uneducated consumers often get ripped off by overpaying for inferior-quality diamonds. The bottomline here is, we only recommend buying diamonds graded by GIA or AGS as they are highly reliable and have strict, consistent grading standards.
The importance of buying a hearts & arrows diamond (super ideal cut) is often a topic of debate by industry professionals. While it's undeniable that a true hearts & arrows cut diamond has ideal light return and optical symmetry, this comes at a cost.
Super ideal cut diamonds have to be polished to a very tight set of proportions and extreme precision. This is painstakingly done by a skilled craftsman who puts in more time on the polishing and requires more weight to be removed from the rough diamond.
As a result, the super ideal cut diamond can be 10-15% more expensive compared to an above-average GIA 3Ex or AGS 000 'near hearts & arrows' diamond.
Some people would argue that there are diminishing returns in brilliance and sparkle since it is hard for a layman to differentiate between a super ideal or a GIA 3Ex diamond. Some may even argue that the H&A pattern can only be seen with a special viewer and wouldn't make any differences to a casual viewer.
These are all valid points but we personally think it is worth it to buy a super ideal cut diamond. There is a visual improvement in appearance because of the symmetrical contrast patterning displayed by H&A diamonds. Also, knowing that a diamond has the best of the best cut quality in the world adds to the enjoyment of wearing and owning the diamond ring.