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We’re often contacted by readers looking for help buying exceptionally well cut diamonds, such as Brian Gavin’s Hearts and Arrows range.
Recently, a reader contacted us asking about the difference between a Hearts and Arrows stone from Brian Gavin Diamonds, and an equivalent Hearts and Arrows or Signature Ideal stone from James Allen or Blue Nile.
We explained that when it comes to cut, the diamond from Brian Gavin will offer the best quality, making it the one to choose if brilliance is your top priority.
As we often mention, cut is by far the most important of the four Cs when it comes to affecting a diamond’s appearance. This reader’s email provides us with a great opportunity to talk about cut quality, especially at the very high end of the range.
Here’s the reader’s original email:
“Great website, very useful. I need help with looking for a 2 carat ideal or HA engagement ring. Budget around $35,000.
Can’t decide between BGD HA or James Allen HA.
A couple of questions.
1. How come BGD uses AGS instead of GIA?
2. Will HA be the same between BGD, JA, and Blue Nile?
3. Ideally, I’d like a 2.0 carat, VS1, H, with triple excellent, GIA cert, with hearts and arrows.
These are all excellent questions, and they’re extremely relevant if you’re looking for a diamond that has the highest possible cut quality.
Before we get into the differences between Hearts and Arrows diamonds from different vendors, let’s cover the reader’s first question.
All reputable online diamond vendors provide certificates for their diamonds, usually from either the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gem Society (AGS).
Both of these grading organizations provide realistic, accurate assessments of a diamond’s cut, color, clarity and other characteristics. We’ve discussed the differences between GIA, AGS and other common diamond certificates in our guide to diamond certification.
The AGS introduced a cut grade long before the GIA, and they’ve maintained a reputation as a grading organization that’s focused on cut quality for a long time. Even today, AGS can provide cut grades for many fancy shape diamonds — something the GIA doesn’t offer.
Because of this, diamond vendors that are focused on exceptional cut quality (like Brian Gavin Diamonds) tend to use AGS certificates.
This doesn’t mean that GIA certificates are unreliable, or that their cut grading isn’t as accurate as that of the AGS. Instead, it’s just a professional preference. Both the AGS and the GIA offer accurate grades for all diamond attributes, including cut.
Now, let’s move on to the reader’s second question, which is about the key differences between Hearts and Arrows diamonds from different vendors.
Hearts and Arrows, or H&A, is a term that’s used to refer to precision-cut round diamonds with a specific reflective pattern of eight arrows. Viewed in a certain type of scope, these diamonds will show a heart shape in between each arrow in a starburst pattern.
This reflective pattern is where the name Hearts and Arrows comes from. To display hearts and arrows, a diamond needs to be cut to an extremely specific and precise faceting scheme.
Because of their precise cut, Hearts and Arrows diamonds look gorgeous. They have incredible brilliance and excellent symmetry, allowing them to reflect an immense amount of light. This lets them look bigger than non-H&A diamonds of the same carat weight.
We’ve talked about the specifics of H&A diamonds in more detail in our full guide to Hearts and Arrows diamonds.
To a large extent, Hearts & Arrows diamonds are the result of advances in the type of technology used to assess and analyze diamond cut.
As GIA research associate Al Gilbertson explains here, the Firescope viewer, which was developed in the mid 1980s, allowed diamond experts to clearly see a “Hearts and Arrows” pattern in a diamond cut to ideal round brilliant cut proportions. This greater precision in assessing diamond cut allowed diamond sellers to separate the “cream of the crop” in terms of diamond cut.
Since they first appeared in Japan in the 1980s, Hearts & Arrows diamonds have attracted lots of attention from customers looking for exceptionally well cut diamonds. As a result of this, just about every diamond vendor — from the best to the not-quite-best — offers a H&A range.
So, what are the differences between the Hearts and Arrows diamonds offered by Brian Gavin Diamonds and the True Hearts diamonds offered by James Allen?
The key difference is the strictness of the parameters used to assess these diamonds. Hearts and Arrows diamonds from Brian Gavin Diamonds are cut to the strictest possible parameters, making them truly the best of the best.
The only equivalent we can think of are Hearts on Fire diamonds, which — as we’ve discussed in our review — are extremely overpriced in comparison.
While James Allen True Hearts and Blue Nile Astor diamonds are also exceptional, the quality parameters used to sort diamonds into this category aren’t quite as strict.
One important fact to keep in mind is that all of these diamonds are extremely well cut. All offer incredible light performance and brilliance, and all will look spectacular once they’re paired with the right setting.
In the end, this reader selected a beautiful 2.247, I color, VS1 clarity round diamond from Brian Gavin Diamonds.
Another issue worth answering here is the more general one of whether a Hearts and Arrows is worth the money.
For the majority of our readers, using our cut quality recommendations and choosing a diamond that has a cut grade of excellent (if graded by the GIA) or ideal (if graded by the AGS) will result in a gorgeous diamond with lots of brilliance.
Since these diamonds are generally less expensive than Hearts and Arrows diamonds, you’ll be able to put more of your budget towards a larger carat weight.
However, if you’re aiming for the ultimate in cut quality and have a budget to match, choosing a super-ideal Hearts and Arrows is often a good choice. Not only will it look unique, but it will offer light performance and brilliance that other diamonds simply can’t match.
Hearts and Arrows diamonds offer impeccable brilliance, as well as a unique appearance that’s not offered by other diamonds. If your budget allows, choosing a Hearts and Arrows diamond is a great way to give your wife-to-be something truly special.
Many diamond vendors offer Hearts and Arrows diamonds, but you’ll find the crème de la crème from Brian Gavin Diamonds. Their quality is outstanding, and if you’re looking for a specially cut super-ideal stone, you’ll certainly find it there.
You can also find some exceptionally beautiful diamonds in James Allen’s TrueHearts collection and Blue Nile’s range of Astor diamonds.
As always, if you need help comparing diamonds or finding something that matches your tastes and budget, feel free to contact us for personalized advice and assistance.
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