“Excellent” is GIA’s best cut grade.
They, the Gemological Institute of America, have 5 cut grades in all:
Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
Excellent is their top of the line.
And with GIA being the best diamond grading company in the world, why would you want anything better?
After all, GIA wrote the book on diamonds. They set the standards (the 4C’s) that we all use today.
Isn’t excellent good enough?
Well, it depends on how much sparkle you want…
You see, how much a diamond sparkles, shines, and illuminates light and fire, totally depends upon the cut. 100%. It’s the way the angles, facets and proportions bounce light around to achieve the maximum amount of life in a stone. But the “excellent” cut grade, is still a wide range of percentages.
Take a look at the GIA excellent cut grade below:
These are the criteria, as shown above:
- Brightness – High
- Fire – High
- Pattern – Minute Pattern Defects
- Total Depth % – 57.5% – 63%
- Table % – 52% – 62%
- Crown Angle – 31.5° – 36.5°
- Pavilion Angle – 40.6° – 41.8°
- Crown Height – 12.5% – 17%
- Star Facet Length – 45% – 65%
- Lower Girdle Facet – 70% – 85%
- Girdle Thickness – Thin – Slightly Thick
- Culet Size – None to Small
- Polish – Excellent to Very Good
- Symmetry – Excellent to Very Good
As you can see, these ranges are rather loose. A 10% difference in table width is a lot.
These proportions can be narrowed down much further. Tightened to produce an even better diamond with more sparkle and more brilliance. Hence Hearts and Arrows was formed.
Hearts and Arrows:
Hearts and Arrows is a term used for diamonds with exceptional cut. A cut so precise, so perfect, that it exhibits patterns inside the stone (as seen with a special hearts and arrows scope) that show Arrows from a top view, and Hearts from an upside-down view. As shown below:
The biggest difference between these two cuts is the table width and total depth (from crown to pavilion).
Compare the two cuts below:
Now I use the table and depth as examples, but everything is taken into consideration; facets, length, angles, height, size…
But the problem is:
GIA doesn’t acknowledge Hearts and Arrows cut. They will only say if the diamond has an inscription that reads Hearts and Arrows, but nothing else. They will grade these exceptional cuts as “excellent“, as that is their highest grade.
So when you see “excellent” on a diamond report, you won’t know if it’s just an excellent cut, or if it’s a true Hearts and Arrows.
This is where AGS steps in.
AGS is the American Gem Society. They pride themselves in achieving tighter ranges that will show you not only how good the Hearts and Arrows are, but also show you images of the Hearts and Arrows. Like in this AGS report below:
Hearts and Arrows can have multiple grades as well, but for the best you can get, look for “IDEAL 0” in all 4 fields: cut, light performance, polish, and symmetry. That’s the top of the line and the best on earth. Nothing else will beat it! (as far as cut goes… for you can always have a bigger diamond, or a whiter diamond; D-E-F, or a cleaner diamond; flawless). But for cut; Ideal 0 is max. It’s incredible. It will give you the ultimate sparkle, brilliance, and fire that any diamond can display. It’s utterly breathtaking.
Yes, Hearts and Arrows are “excellent” cut grades, sure. Just a more narrowed down version. One that will blow you away.
Just remember, when shopping for Hearts and Arrows (also known as True Hearts, and Hearts on Fire), these will generally not be graded by GIA, they will be graded by AGS instead (or sometimes graded by both).
AGS is the only way to gain true cut perfection.
And to see these perfectly cut diamonds, check out James Allen here. You’ll absolutely love them.
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