What are Hearts and Arrows?
The WTOCD (Scientific and Technical Research center for Diamond) developed the hallmark Hearts & Arrows by HRD Antwerp in 2009. Objectif criteria and a specifically developed automatic expert system are used to verify whether a diamond satisfies the Hearts & Arrows criteria. More information can be found on their website. The Hearts and Arrows pattern refers to a symmetrical light pattern visible using a special viewer in diamonds cut within certain narrow specifications.
The brilliant cut diamond has 57 facets. When all these facets are in harmony, the result is a repeatable and nearly perfect pattern of eight symmetrical arrows when the diamond viewed from the top and eight symmetrical hearts when the diamond is viewed from the bottom.
Experts in the diamond industry disagree on which diamonds should receive the ‘Hearts and Arrows’ label. This is because there is no industry standard, therefore one person or company can label a diamond as ‘Hearts and Arrows’, while another may not agree. In the diamond industry, the term ‘super ideal’ is a common term that is used to describe diamonds that have perfect optical symmetry. Most diamonds with an overall cut graded by GIA as ‘3 x Excellent’ (with Excellent cut, symmetry and polish) or American Gem Society as ‘0’ (or ‘Ideal’) will have some sort of hearts and arrows pattern when seen through a H&A viewer, but the pattern may not be perfect. Most experts in the diamond industry believe the Hearts and Arrows pattern should be graded, and only those with the highest grade should be called Hearts and Arrows. Those people also believe that the presence of the Hearts and Arrows pattern alone is not enough to be considered a Hearts and Arrows diamond; the pattern must be perfect to fit within certain guidelines.
Often the presence of the Hearts and Arrows pattern is taken as confirmation that the diamond is well cut. This is not necessarily true. In a round diamond, a clearly defined set of 8 hearts and 8 arrows is a sign of excellent optical symmetry, an important component of cut. As such, its appearance is a very likely a sign of superior cut, but not a guarantee.
The laboratories IGI and HRD grade Hearts & Arrows as an ‘optimal cut’. IGI even has a specific certificate. GIA does not recognize Hearts & Arrows as a component of the cut grade, this party because of the fact that the presence of the pattern is not a guarantee of the cut. But, GIA certificates will sometimes contain a note stating ‘Laser Inscription: H&A.’ This note on the GIA certificate simply indicates that ’H&A’ was laser inscribed on the girdle of the diamond before it was graded by GIA. Neither the ‘H&A’ laser inscription, nor the corresponding note on the GIA certificate, is an indication that GIA observed the Hearts and Arrows pattern on the specific diamond.
The diamond industry has not established firm criteria for evaluating diamonds on Hearts & Arrows. For consumers looking to purchase diamonds with this specification and cut quality, it is best to review the Hearts and Arrows images under a H&A viewer.
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