Last updated on May 14, 2022
The heart is probably the most romantic and unique diamond shape. Popular in solitaire pendants, stud earrings and engagement rings, heart-shaped diamonds are the ultimate symbol of love. If you are interested in buying a diamond with a rare cut, this heart-shaped diamond guide is a must-read.
History of Heart-Shaped Diamonds
The history of heart-shaped diamonds traces back to the late 1400s, when the diamond cut was considered a symbol of royalty. The exact origins of heart diamonds are unknown, but the heart brilliant cut may have appeared as early as the 15th century. Although today that cut would be classified as “triangular with rounded corners” or “drop”, at the time, it was described as heart-shaped.
The first mention of heart-shaped diamonds was in the conversation between the Duke of Milan, Galeazzo Maria Sforza and Nicodemo in 1464, when the Duke described the mystical quests of Cosimo de Medici of the political dynasty in Florence as a heart-shaped diamond.
Nearly a hundred years later, in 1562, Mary Queen of Scots sent Queen Elizabeth an amazing ring with a heart-shaped diamond. At the time, heart diamonds were thought to be a symbol of friendship and goodwill between royals. It is one of the most famous heart-shaped diamonds in history. Around the same time, nobleman Cardinal de Richelieu owned a 20-carat heart-shaped diamond given to him by a wealthy diamond merchant. The jewel was said to be willed to the king.
The modern heart cut is the modification of the round brilliant cut, which is why it typically features 56 to 58 facets. However, the number of facets may vary depending on the design of the stone. It is worth mentioning that a high-quality heart cut is among the most expensive as it is a unique shape that requires an extremely high level of symmetry.
Heart-Shaped Diamond Cut Quality
Cut quality is the most important factor in maximising brilliance and fire and affecting the overall appearance of heart-shaped diamonds.
While the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and other lab entities provide cut grading for the round brilliant cut, they do not give a cut quality grade for fancy shaped diamonds, including the heart. This is because fancy shapes have many non-standardised facet structures, meaning they can be cut to a wide range of proportions. However, grading laboratories list information on polish and symmetry, which are some of the key factors in choosing a brilliant and sparkly stone.
Since the heart is a complex cut, there are several factors to consider to choosing a properly cut stone. 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 to create 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.
Since there is no industry-wide consent on what cut parameters make an ideal heart-shaped diamond, it is recommended to use the table below as a general guideline for evaluating the cut quality of heart diamonds.
|TABLE %||53 - 63||52 or 64 - 65||51 or 66 - 68||50 or 69 - 70||< 50 or > 70|
|DEPTH %||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|
|GIRDLE||Very Thin to Slightly Thick||Very Thin to Slightly Thick||Very Thin to Thick||Very Thin to Very Thick||Extremely Thin to Extremely Thick|
|CULET||None||Very Small||Small||Medium||> Medium|
|L/W RATIO||0.95 - 1.02||0.89 - 0.94 or 1.03 - 1.05||0.83 - 0.87 or 1.06 - 1.10||0.80 - 0.83 or 1.11 - 1.15||> .80 or < 1.15|
Heart-Shaped Diamond Colour
The colour of heart-shaped diamonds is graded on a scale from D to Z, where D signifies a completely colourless stone and Z means an easily noticeable yellow or brown tint.
Since the heart is a modified version of the round brilliant cut, it offers excellent brilliance, meaning it is harder to distinguish any tints in heart-shaped diamonds. This also means you may not need to buy a premium colourless stone, even if you want it to look white. In general, it is recommended to opt for an H colour or better to have a diamond that will appear white and colourless to the naked eye. However, keep in mind that colour should be compared on a case-by-case basis.
The chart below provides a general guideline for evaluating colour in heart-shaped diamonds based on their carat weights.
|< .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|
Heart-Shaped Diamond Clarity
The GIA grades clarity of heart-shaped diamonds on a scale from FL to I3, where FL means a flawless stone and I3 indicates a heavily included diamond.
The issue of clarity is the same in all diamonds. Depending on their type, inclusions can affect the brilliance and fire of a diamond. However, heart-shaped diamonds, due to their unique cutting style, tend to hide inclusions and blemishes well. Moreover, smaller heart diamonds hide imperfections better than larger ones do, which is why if you are going to purchase a smaller stone, you may opt for a lower clarity grade such as SI1 and SI2 while keeping an eye-clean appearance.
The clarity chart below provides a general guideline for choosing the right heart-shaped diamond based on your inclusion tolerance.
|< .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-Shaped Diamond Length to Width Ratio
The length to width ratio expresses how relatively long or wide a diamond appears. It is calculated by dividing the length of the diamond by its width. For example, if the length of a heart-shaped diamond is 6.10 mm and the width is 6.90 mm, its length to width ratio is 0.9.
Each fancy diamond shape has a certain length to width ratio that is considered most appealing for that shape. While personal preference prevails, the ideal ratio for heart-shaped diamonds is 1.00. Heart diamonds with a ratio of less than 0.90 will look chubby, while the ones with a ratio of 1.10 or more will look stretched and elongated. Unless you want a chubby or elongated heart-shaped diamond, it is best to avoid stones that are not of the ideal or near-ideal ratio.
Featured image: DiamondGalaxy / Canva