Hearts on Fire

★★☆☆☆
2 stars out of 5

Branded Special Cut Diamonds

Readers already familiar with Truth About Diamonds know that in general, I am not a fan of branded diamonds. The vast majority of branded diamonds are non-standard cuts.  Usually this means a few extra facets are added to the stone in a unique way (unique enough to make the new design patentable).  The actual new cut is, of course, is the small part of the creation of a branded diamond.  The big part is the marketing blitz that escorts the new “special cut.”.  The more intelligently crafted campaigns will include something that appeals to both the right brain and left brain.  There will be an emotional component (the diamond shines as bright as your love for her, blah blah blah) and a rational component (this diamond provides more sparkle per dollar than any other diamond on earth – here’s a certificate to prove it!).

The diamond companies want you to believe that their new and amazing super cut was created because of an endless desire and passion for creating brilliant diamonds.  They want you to believe that a mad scientist locked himself in his lab for a month with no food or water or sleep until he finally emerged barely alive with his secret formula for maximum brilliance!  All joking aside, the point is clear – they want you to believe that their motivation was to create a better diamond.

But this isn’t true.  As is the case with every single branded diamond, the singular motivation to create a “special cut” stone is be able to sell diamonds at a higher profit margin.  Diamonds are almost a commodity.  True wholesale prices for similar goods really don’t vary that much from vendor to vendor.  While every diamond is an individual, a group of diamonds with the same qualities will pretty much be almost exactly the same as a group of diamonds with the same qualities from another vendor taken as a whole.  This means that competition will always bring down prices to the bare minimum at the wholesale level.

Diamond manufacturers can sell at these bare minimum prices and barely eek out a sustainable profit, or they can decide to do something special with their diamonds that would warrant a higher profit margin.  This is how branded diamonds got their start.

From personal experience, most of the branded special cut diamonds out there are, in reality, much less nice than regular ideal cut candidates from the same basic shape from which the special cut is based.  This is especially true of branded diamonds that are sold at the low-end national chain stores – they are almost exclusively substandard poorly cut diamonds with a few facets added.

But What About Hearts on Fire?

Hearts on Fire, arguably the most well known and perhaps the most successful branded diamond to date, is unique in this case.  The Hearts on Fire diamond is simply a very well cut round stone – no extra facets, nothing unique.  The trademarked tagline is “The World’s Most Perfectly Cut Diamond.”  The company also has a square stone that is basically a uniquely faceted radiant, but they’re really famous for their round stone – so this is what we will focus on in this article.

You might be wondering – if it’s just a regular round diamond, what’s so special about it?  Well, to be fair, the cut really is as good as a round diamond can get.  You see, even within the subset of diamonds that gets an “Excellent” cut grade from GIA, there is still a range of cut qualities.  There is a better end of Excellent and a lower end of Excellent. For most people, the different between these two is barely noticeable at all.  But many people claim to be able to see the difference easily and immediately.  How sensitive you are to these things is varies from person to person.  Hearts on Fire diamonds are only the best of the best in terms of cut.

The Test

Hearts on Fire Appraisal with Split Grades

During a recent trip to New York, I decided to see for myself what the Hearts on Fire experience was like.  In New York City, Michael C Fina is the exclusive authorized dealer of Hearts on Fire.  I entered the store on southeast corner at the intersection of 5th Avenue and 47th Street in Manhattan as if I were a guy about to propose to his girlfriend.

My goal was to buy a one carat Hearts on Fire diamond in the most simple setting I could find and compare that with the best I could find online that would not be a compromise at all in terms of quality.

The Product

1ct Ring Purchase from Michael C Fina

As this is a review of the Hearts on Fire product, I don’t want to dwell too much on the buying experience at Michael C Fina.  I will just say that it was pretty much as would be expected buying an engagement ring at a higher-end guild independent jewelry store.  In fact, I will even say that I was impressed with the salesperson’s knowledge when she said that since Hearts on Fire were cut so “perfectly” that I didn’t need to go overboard on the diamond’s color and clarity.  This is something that I fundamentally agree with – and not just with super-ideal cut diamonds.  She could have just as easily pushed me to a more expensive diamond.

Now on to the diamond.  I ended up purchasing a 1.02ct “G/H VS/SI” mounted in a platinum band without any side stones for $15,990 before sales tax. The total was over $17,200 including sales tax.  If you’re thinking that it’s strange that I paid over $17,000 for a diamond, and they don’t even know its color or clarity, you’re in good company.  These kinds of “split grades” are the type of things you find on IGI certificates of mounted goods at low-end national chain retailers.  Not the sort of thing you expect to find on a premium product.

They’re charging a rather hefty premium (more on that later) for a pretty standard product.  I find it rather surprising that their diamonds aren’t even certified by any 3rd party objective source, like GIA or AGS.  Tiffany & Co uses an in-house certificate, but it seems to me that they take it much more seriously.  Their grading is exact – no split grades.  And their grading was very conservative - right on target in my opinion.  You might be thinking, “What difference does it make?”  The answer is simple – the difference in price between a G VS1 and an H SI2 is enormous (looking on James Allen right now, a 1ct round G VS1 is about $10,000 while a 1ct round H SI2 is about $6000).

Brian Gavin Hearts & Arrows in Temporary Setting

The actual diamond that I purchased was beautiful and extremely brilliant.  I got what I expected.  But I don’t think this was ever the issue.  The issue is value.

Worth the premium?

Close Up of BG Hearts & Arrows Diamond

To be fair to Hearts on Fire, we can’t just find a regular GIA Excellent cut grade (or AGS Ideal cut grade equivalent) to compare prices.  That wouldn’t be fair, because as I mentioned earlier, the super-ideal Hearts & Arrows cut of the Hearts on Fire is a small subset of these cut qualities.  So to accomplish what I felt was a fair comparison, I purchased a 1.02ct H SI1 AGS certified Triple Zero (various diamond images like the idealscope views can bee seen at the diamond’s original page on BGD) from Brian Gavin Diamonds (See a full Review of Brian Gavin Diamonds here).  I chose this diamond because I felt that an H SI1 was the closest approximation of the color and clarity of the Hearts on Fire diamond.  This diamond was part of their Signature Hearts & Arrows collection, hand-selected by Brian himself.  Brian is a family-trained 5th generation diamond cutter whose expertise in diamond cut quality is sought after all over the world.

AGS Certificate Belonging to the Gavin Diamond

I took both the Hearts on Fire ring and the loose diamond from BGD to the same photographer once I had both in my possession.  I quickly realized that I erred not having the diamond from BGD placed in a setting, so I improvised and placed the loose stone in a temporary spring-loaded setting. This is why the prongs look more like claws in the picture above and to the right.

The two diamonds were basically identical.  If the HOF diamond wasn’t set in a ring, the two diamonds would have been a perfect match for one another.  Both were equally brilliant

The loose diamond from BGD cost $8,446 by credit card, or $8,193 if paid by wire transfer.  Lets be generous and assume the platinum setting accompanying the Hearts on Fire diamond cost $2000.  That leaves $13,990 for just the diamond before tax, about $15,100 after tax.  You might think it isn’t fair to compare the after-tax price of the Hearts on Fire stone to the no-tax price of the BG H&A diamond, but I think it’s completely fair.  Hearts on Fire is not available online – you have to buy it from a participating certified HOF dealer.  That means that no matter where you buy it, you will definitely be paying sales tax.  Until the law is changed, you will only pay sales tax on a purchase from Brian Gavin if you live in Texas.

It’s very clear to me after this exercise that you gain nothing paying the premium for a Hearts on Fire diamond over and above other super-ideal Hearts & Arrows cut diamonds (like the Signature cut from BGD).  The difference in price is rather significant – $15,100 from Hearts on Fire vs. $8,446 from BGD – almost double.  The product, however, is identical.

Reviewed By Michael Fried

Leave a Comment

Please Note: For personal diamond assistance, you will receive a much quicker response sending us an email via the contact form. Comments should be reserved for questions and/or comments about this specific article. Thank you.

17 Comments

  1. Catherine     Reply

    Hi Mike,

    I can’t believe I completely missed this review! I first saw a HOF diamond and was awestruct with the brilliance but quickly learnt that it was about GBP14,000 for that particular 1ct ring. Yikes :-(
    I have dismissed round brilliants in my initial search of ring possibilites thinking that 1 ct of the “best” cut is out of our price range, but this review just changed everything.

    Thank you so very much for sharing!

    • Mike     Reply

      Hi Catherine,

      What are you looking to spend? I’d be happy to make some recommendations for you.

  2. Marcus     Reply

    Hello Ira,
    Is there a quality difference between a BGD Signature Hearts and Arrows and the James Allen True Hearts diamond grade?
    Thanks Marcus

    • Mike     Reply

      We have found the BGD diamonds to be consistently and noticeably the most brilliant diamonds of any we tested. If you are focused on perfect cut, they are the way to go.

      • Jeff     Reply

        Can you write an article on Hearts and Arrows? Since cut quality is the most important in producing sparkle, should we get Hearts and Arrows? Are the worth the extra cost?

Helping you get the most value on your diamond purchase

We are diamond industry veterans who will teach you to identify scams and avoid spending money on features you can’t see.

Click Now for Help

Article Finder

Filter posts on the site that are relevant to your diamond search.

  Returns results

Try it On

Enter either the carat weights or
the dimensions of each diamond

× ×

carat vs. length width depth

× ×

*Optional

Wondering why we do this? Think we’re biased? You’re only half right. Learn More