James Allen True Hearts vs James Allen Round Ideal Cut Diamonds Review

James Allen Diamonds is a popular online source for diamonds because Jim and his staff provide a great level of customer service and a large selection of diamonds in a variety of cut qualities in an effort to appeal to the broadest market share possible. I tend to ignore the non-ideal cut options offered by James Allen because my niche within the industry has always been the extremely small world of ideal cut diamonds that represent the Top 2% of the annual production for round brilliant cut diamonds. James Allen offers two lines of round brilliant ideal cut diamonds under the category of James Allen True Hearts and Ideal, so what’s the difference between the two lines?

Best Proportions for Ideal Cut Diamonds:

Before we get too far along, I want to mention that only a small percentage of “ideal cut diamonds” actually fall within the selection criteria that I relied on when I was the diamond buyer for Nice Ice, these are what are often described as “super ideal cut diamonds” because they are cut to the middle of the range of parameters designated by the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) for their zero ideal cut proportions rating. Peter Yantzer, Director of the AGSL, once asked me what my proportions criteria was and when I defined it for  him, he said “Ah yes, the sweet spot!”

The “sweet spot” as Peter so aptly referred to it is pretty much what Marcel Tolkowsky defined as the perfect proportions for optimized light return in a round brilliant cut diamond in his works “Tolkowsky’s Diamond Design” which was published in 1919, but it is expanded to include the impact of a girdle edge which is something he never took into account in his calculations. Refer to my article 15 Seconds to Diamond Buying Success for detailed information regarding my preferred range of proportions.

How to Search for Diamonds on James Allen:

Needless to say the majority of online diamond vendors do not limit their inventory of ideal cut diamonds to the limited range of proportions which I consider to actually be ideal cut, so when you search for ideal cut diamonds on James Allen and other web sites, it is necessary to use the Advanced Options feature to limit your search to James Allen True Hearts & Ideal round brilliant cut diamonds with a total depth between 59 – 61.8% and a table diameter between 53 – 58% with GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal polish and symmetry as indicated in the screenshot featured at the beginning of this page which I used to search diamonds weighing between 1.10 – 1.20 carats, G/H color, and VS-2 clarity. If you’d like to save a little bit of time and not have to set these parameters for yourself, you can click this link to use my search criteria to find diamonds on James Allen and then merely adjust the range for carat weight, color and clarity to suit your preferences.

Using the advanced options to limit the range of total depth, table diameter, polish and symmetry, will significantly reduce the number of options and dramatically improve the odds of finding an ideal cut diamond that exhibits the highest volume of light return and is as bright and sparkly as it can be, but you also need to narrow down the options further by looking at the proportions indicated on the diamond grading reports and focus on diamonds which feature a crown angle between 34.3 – 34.9 degrees with a pavilion angle offset that is between 40.6 – 40.9 degrees to really nail things down.

Now this is a simple matter of geometry, the fact is that 40.6 – 40.9 degrees is the optimum range for reflecting the maximum volume of light back up through the upper half of the diamond, and keeping the crown angle offset between 34.3 – 34.9 degrees tends to produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion which is the white and colored sparkle or “fire” that that is created by the facets of a diamond.

Very slight adjustments to the crown and pavilion angle measurements are acceptable provided that they are not too extreme, for instance dropping the crown angle down as far as 34.0 degrees is fine provided that the pavilion angle remains within the range specified above, but it tends to be best if the pavilion angle is on the steeper side of the range, such as within the range of 40.8 – 4.09 degrees and this will generally only slightly affect the balance of brilliance and dispersion reflected by the diamond.

The most critical reflective surface is the pavilion angle and I generally don’t like to see it dip below 40.6 degrees, nor higher than 41.0 degrees because it is likely to have a significant impact upon the volume of light return and can result in a higher rate of light leakage. With all of these considerations taken into account, let’s take a look at the five James Allen ideal cut diamonds which remained viable options after I tweaked the advanced options feature to suit my preferences.

James Allen True Hearts & Ideal Cut Diamonds:

In order of carat weight and color, the five diamonds which we’re going to evaluate in-depth from James Allen are as follows:

Try to keep in mind that all of these diamonds represent options which are well within the Top 2% of the annual production for round brilliant cut diamonds, and represent the best that the diamond industry has to offer… but the reality is that some options will be more desirable to me than others based upon their characteristics.

James Allen Diamond Review: 1.116 carat, G, VS-2

James Allen Diamond Review one carat G-color, VS-2 clarity, SKU 265387The first thing that caught my attention about this 1.116 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen Round Ideal Cut Diamond is that while the lab report is dated October 11, 2013 the diamond is not graded on the AGSL’s Proprietary Light Performance grading platform which uses Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology to measure the brightness of a diamond and provides some insight into the optical symmetry of the diamond via an image which appears in the middle of the report.

[separator]

This is a scenario which I always find a bit perplexing because the flap pictured on the right side of the Diamond Quality Document (DQD) clearly indicates that the diamond received a zero grade for Light Performance and the diamond has an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0, absent the presence of an ASET image.

This raises the question in my mind as to whether the cutter who listed the diamond with James Allen for representation simply didn’t want to pay the few extra dollars that the Light Performance grading report costs, or was there something about the ASET results that led the cutter to believe that the diamond would best be marketed with the limited information provided on this version of an AGSL DQD?

And since the crown angle of this diamond is only 34.1 degrees offset by a pavilion angle of 40.7 degrees, I’m inclined to simply pass on it and move on to other options which don’t raise these kind of concerns.

James Allen True Hearts Diamond Review: 1.138 carat, H, VS-2

James Allen True Hearts Diamond Review, SKU 261446Things are looking much better for this 1.138 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts Diamond which is graded on the ASET based Light Performance grading platform from the AGSL. The red, green and blue colored ASET image which is visible in the center of the DQD pictured to the left provides me with a clear indication that the pattern of light return is evenly distributed and symmetrical. The proportions of the diamond are well within my preferred range and the primary inclusions consist of different types of diamond crystals which are simply smaller diamonds that were trapped within the larger diamond crystal as it formed. The pattern of hearts and arrows provided by the photographs featured on the diamond details page look great, with only very minor variations in size, shape and just a little twisting in the tips of the hearts. This is a diamond that I would purchase myself.

[separator]

James Allen Diamond Review: 1.14 carat, H, VS-2

James Allen Diamond Review one carat, h color, VS2 clarity, GIA 1149318908This 1.14 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen Round Ideal Cut Diamond is graded by the GIA with an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent. The GIA does not have access to ASET because it is a technology which is proprietary to the AGSL and thus we don’t have any indication as to the brightness level or pattern of light return provided by this diamond. Now this diamond is likely to be one of those rule benders that doesn’t meet my selection criteria, but might still be an interesting diamond only because the total depth of the diamond is 60.3% and that combined with the 80% lower girdle halves is likely to make it a beautiful looking diamond despite the extremely shallow crown angle of 33.0 degrees and the slightly steep 41.0 degree pavilion angle. This is one of those scenarios where I’ve seen it result in an exceptional looking diamond, and also seen it fail miserably in comparison to ideal cut diamonds with tighter proportions.

[separator]

Since the price of the 1.138 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts Diamond is only $270.00 more than this 1.14 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen Round Ideal Cut Diamond with questionable proportions, I’m inclined to pass on it and opt for the option which offers more balanced options overall.

James Allen True Hearts Diamond Review: 1.148 carat, H, VS-2

James Allen True Hearts Diamond Review SKU 129281This 1.148 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts Diamond has great proportions which are well within the scope of my preferred range, however just like the 1.116 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen Round Ideal Cut Diamond referenced above, it is not graded on the AGSL’s Light Performance grading platform which provides ASET results and that gives me pause. The only difference in my mind is because this one exhibits a very nice pattern of hearts and arrows!

[separator]

The presence of a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows is a clear indication that the optical symmetry of the diamond is excellent because the pattern will not appear properly if there is any major variation in the size, shape and spacing of the facets… so this diamond remains of interest even in the absence of an ASET image.

The primary inclusions consist of small diamond crystals and clouds of pinpoint size diamond crystals, I can see from the high resolution video of the diamond provided on the diamond details page that the most prominent of these are three tiny diamond crystals located within the table facet. While these might seem readily visible when you manually rotate the diamond to locate them, try to keep in mind that the standard level of magnification for diamond clarity grading is 10x and the diamond is being viewed using 30x – 40x magnification throughout the video in order for you to be able to see it clearly on your computer monitor.

James Allen Diamond Review: 1.160 carat, G, VS-2

James Allen Diamond Review one carat, G color, VS2, SKU 73618This 1.160 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen Round Ideal Cut Diamond is definitely worthy of consideration, but you can see by the lack of symmetry within the colored pattern of distribution represented on the ASET image that there is some variation in the pattern of brightness exhibited by this diamond. This is not necessarily something to be alarmed about, but if I were trying to choose between two diamonds of seemingly equal diamond cut quality and characteristics, and one of them exhibited a pattern that was more precise like the one featured within the 1.138 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts Diamond referenced above and this one, I’d be inclined to go with the 1.138 carat which appears to have slightly better optical symmetry. This diamond however is still worthy of consideration, it’s just a matter of considering the minute details.

[separator]

Choosing between James Allen True Hearts or James Allen Ideal:

It is not always a simple choice to decide between buying a James Allen True Hearts Diamond or one of the round brilliant ideal cut diamonds offered by James Allen, so I recommend using my preset criteria to search for a diamond on James Allen and take some time to evaluate the individual characteristics of each diamond in this order to select the best diamond from the options presented:

  • The Diamond Proportions
  • Degree of Optical Symmetry & Brightness based on ASET
  • Presence or Absence of Hearts and Arrows pattern
  • Inclusion type, extent and location
  • Price as compared to the other options available

And of course if you’d like my assistance evaluating the options which are available, please take advantage of my Free Diamond Concierge Service!

Todd Gray
Todd Gray is a professional diamond buyer with 30+ years of trade experience. He loves to teach people how to buy diamonds that exhibit incredible light performance! In addition to writing for Nice Ice, Todd "ghost writes" blogs and educational content for other diamond sites. When Todd isn't chained to a desk, or consulting for the trade, he enjoys Freediving! (that's like scuba diving, but without air tanks)
Todd Gray

@NiceIceDiamonds

Professional diamond buyer with 30+ years trade experience in the niche of super ideal cut diamonds. In my free time, I enjoy freediving & photography.
The incredible #story behind the Sirisha diamond necklace by @BrianGavin 71 #Diamonds cut to order #Amazinghttps://t.co/dHOo1T99xT - 1 year ago

Leave a Comment:

11 comments
Ethan says June 14, 2018

Hi Todd,
I’ve been reading up on your blog religiously for past few days. I really appreciate the all the information as someone like me who virtually has no idea what to look for when it comes to diamond. I used your metrics and shopped around at James Allen. Due to budget constraints, I had to go one level lower from H to I and ended up picking up this 1.25 carat, I-color, VVS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond. I’m wondering did I make a right choice? Compared to this 1.23 carat, H-color, VVS-2 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond.

Reply
    Todd says June 15, 2018

    Hello Ethan. Thank you for your inquiry. I also would have chosen the 1.256 carat, I-color, VVS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond over the 1.23 carat, H-color, VVS-2 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond.

    The 40.7 – 40.8 degree pavilion angles should produce a high volume of light return. However, the crown angle of 34.7 degrees on the True Hearts diamond is likely to create a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle) while the 34.0 degree crown angle on the GIA Excellent cut diamond is likely to create more brilliance at the expense of dispersion.

    In addition, we have the reflector scope images necessary to judge the degree of optical precision on the True Hearts diamond. So, we can see that the degree of optical precision is excellent because the hearts pattern is nice and uniform. The red Ideal Scope image shows us that the diamond is returning a lot of light with just a hint of leakage under the table facet, but nothing that is full blown. And the ASET Scope image provided on the diamond grading report shows that the diamond is gathering light from all the right places and reflecting it back evenly. While we know nothing about how light is reflecting throughout the GIA Excellent cut diamond.

    Just look at the difference in how the two diamonds face-up. Left click your mouse over the video frame and hold it down while you drag the diamonds left or right so you can see them in the face-up position. The James Allen True Hearts diamond appears to be crisper and reflecting light in a manner which is more uniform and the arrows look nice and distinct. While the arrows pattern of the GIA Excellent cut diamond is not as crisp and light does not appear to be reflecting through it as evenly… I’d say you made the right choice!

    Reply
      ethan says June 17, 2018

      Hi Todd,
      Thanks for your reply.
      After doing bit more research I found WF to be higher in quality?
      I’m looking at
      https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-3970287.htm
      and https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-3995837.htm

      Compared to the JA true heart that I’ve chosen. Are these better?
      One concern I have for JA is I in color, that may look yellowish.
      I appreciate any feed back. Thank you.

      Reply
        Todd says June 18, 2018

        Hello Ethan,

        In my experience, it is best to evaluate each diamond on its own merits because of there seems to be a lack of consistency in the James Allen True Hearts and Whiteflash ACA brands of hearts and arrows diamonds. In this case, the hearts pattern exhibited by the 1.25 carat, I-color, VVS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond is pretty consistent with only very minor variances. But there are many times when I evaluate James Allen True Hearts diamonds and see much more variance in the size and shape of the hearts, and the spacing around the hearts, or see twisting in the tips of the hearts, or splits in the clefts.
        Are James Allen True Hearts diamonds better than WhiteFlash ACA diamonds? Which diamond brand of hearts and arrows diamond should I buy?
        The reality is that the proportions of all three of these diamonds are in the same center range and thus these diamonds should exhibit a high volume of light return and a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.
        The difference between the diamonds is the degree of optical precision reflected by the symmetry of the hearts patterns. In this instance, it appears to me that the hearts pattern exhibited by the James Allen True Hearts diamond appears to be more symmetrical, more even in size, shape, and spacing. There is a hint of twisting in the tip of the heart in the relative seven o’clock position, but it is very slight and of no consequence.
        But there appears to be a lot more variance in the hearts pattern exhibited by the 1.242 carat, H-color, SI-1 clarity, Whiteflash ACA diamond pictured in the middle of this image. Take a look at the tip of the heart in the relative one o’clock position, and then take note of the amount of spacing around the heart. Then allow your eyes to move around the diamond clockwise and look at the spacing around the hearts and the tips of the hearts. Notice the variance in the amount of space around each of the hearts, then look back at the James Allen True Hearts image and notice how much more even the spacing is in this instance.

        Then look at the hearts pattern of the 1.283 carat, H-color, SI-1 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond, pictured on the right of this image. Start with the hearts in the relative one and seven o’clock positions and notice how both of those hearts have extra space around them, which means that there is a difference in the length of the lower girdle facets. This is an important indicator of cut quality because each heart is created by light reflecting off the pavilion main facets from the other side of the diamond. Which is why we evaluate hearts in pairs as they oppose each other in position. When the hearts opposite each other are reflecting the same variances in spacing, it tells us that something is off in the indexing of the facets.

        Now. It’s important to understand that these differences in optical precision are not necessarily bad. They are simply technical issues that we use to distinguish the difference in cut quality between hearts and arrows diamonds, which represent the Top 1% to Top 0.001% of the annual production of round brilliant cut diamonds. From my perspective, these three hearts and arrows diamonds fall into the Top 1% range because they’re not precise enough to warrant the highest rating, but they’re not bad either if that makes sense…

        Using these images, we can see that, in this instance, the James Allen True Hearts diamond appears to exhibit better optical precision. Thus, it should exhibit sparkle which is more vivid and intense than the Whiteflash ACA diamonds, but this will not always be the case. In other words, I’m not making a blanket statement that James Allen True Hearts diamonds are better than Whiteflash ACA diamonds, because that is not always the case. You’ve got to look at each diamond individually, regardless of brand, and then select the option which makes the best sense from your perspective.

        With that in mind, you might prefer the Whiteflash ACA diamonds because they are H-color instead of I-color. Although, I will say, that I selected an I-color diamond produced by Brian Gavin for my own wedding ring. I set that I-color diamond down in an all yellow gold setting, and the effect of the yellow gold reflecting through the diamond made it face-up more like J-color. But if I had set it in white gold or platinum, then it would have faced-up closer to H-color which would have looked a hint whiter.

        At the same time, I find that most people have great difficulty trying to distinguish the difference of a single color grade in the face-up position of diamonds which have been mounted. It’s much easier for them to see the difference in sparkle factor, and thus I would be inclined to purchase the James Allen True Hearts diamond, which is also going to face-up eye clean because of the VVS-2 clarity grade. While I’ve always been able to find the inclusions within SI-1 clarity diamonds with just a little scrutiny, especially once I know where and what to look for…

        Regardless of which diamond you purchase, I hope that you take a moment to mention to James Allen and Whiteflash that you’re working with Todd Gray from Nice Ice! I appreciate your doing so very much.

        Reply
      ethan says June 17, 2018

      Sorry want your opinion on this one as well.
      https://www.whiteflash.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut-loose-diamond-3986346.htm
      Just want to make sure i color won’t be yellowish from side with this one?

      Reply
        Todd says June 18, 2018

        Hi Ethan,

        Now that you have a better idea of what to look for as far as the consistency in the hearts pattern goes, I’ll bet that you can look at the pattern exhibited by the 1.268 carat, I-color, VS-1 clarity, Whiteflash ACA diamond and see where it is off. Start with the hearts in the relative four o’clock and just above the nine o’clock positions and notice the variance in spacing. Then look at the hearts in the relative one o’clock and seven o’clock positions and notice how different those four hearts are from each other…

        Once again, I am NOT saying that this is a bad Hearts and Arrows cut diamond. But it’s also not the best hearts and arrows cut diamond that I’ve ever seen. In this instance, we’re trying to decide whether this diamond is better than the James Allen True Hearts diamond that you previously inquired about and in my opinion, that is the more precisely cut diamond in this case. There have been other times when the Whiteflash ACA diamond exhibited a more precise hearts pattern than the James Allen True Hearts diamond and this is just how things work out. Remember that the goal is to select the best cut option of the diamonds which are currently available, which just happens to be the James Allen True Hearts diamond in this instance. Make sense?

        Reply
Eddie says March 20, 2017

Thanks, Todd! I’ve been using your blog post here for a while as I’ve tried to nail down the right diamond for a very special lady. I moved forward with the 1.08 carat diamond as you suggested. https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/1.08-carat-j-color-vvs2-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-213362. It’ll be set in a 14k yellow gold, 6 prong 1.5mm comfort fit band from James Allen. I’m looking forward receiving it!

Reply
Eddie says March 20, 2017

I’m trying to decide between these 2 diamonds – Which would you choose? I’m impartial toward the size differences in the diameter. I just want to choose the better, more shiny, diamond.
https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/1.08-carat-j-color-vvs2-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-2133629
https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/1.01-carat-j-color-vvs1-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-96367

Reply
    Todd says March 20, 2017

    Hello Eddie,

    Thank you for your inquiry. Based upon what I’m seeing in the video provided of the two diamonds, I like the look of the 1.08 carat, J-color, VVS-2 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond from James Allen better because it exhibits less obstruction under the table facet and better contrast brilliance than the 1.01 carat, J-color, VVS-1 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond from James Allen.

    Now I’m going to recommend that you download my Ultimate Diamond Buying Cheat Sheet and refer to it while you’re diamond shopping. It will help you better understand how diamond proportions affect light return and how optical precision affects sparkle factor.

    But I also want to address the question at hand, by further explaining what you can expect from these two diamonds. Beginning with the 1.08 carat, J-color, VVS-2 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond from James Allen, which is the better option of the two. By the numbers, you can expect that the 40.8 degree pavilion angle will produce a high volume of light return.

    This information will be revealed to you in the cheat sheet you’re going to download. The 34.0 degree crown angle is likely to produce a little bit more brilliance, but it will be at the expense of dispersion. Brilliance is white sparkle and dispersion is colored sparkle, which is commonly known as fire. This effect is likely to be heightened by the 80% lower girdle facet length, which tends to create pin-fire type sparkle, which is smaller in size (than what is produced by lower girdle facets in the range of 75 – 78%).

    So what happens is our human eyes tend not to break smaller sparkle down into colored sparkle, because it’s too small to be fully dispersed. Thus the combination of a crown angle of 34.0 degrees and shallower, with a lower girdle facet length between 80 – 82% produces sparkle that our eyes tend to interpret as more brilliant.

    If you think you might prefer diamonds that exhibit a high volume of light return and a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion in the form of broad spectrum sparkle (larger, bolder, more vivid and intense) then stick to the proportions outlined in the cheat sheet.

    Now the proportions of the 1.01 carat, J-color, VVS-1 clarity, GIA Excellent cut round diamond from James Allen are within that preferred range. However the diamond exhibits much more obstruction under the table facet. Which is why the diamond seems to face-up darker and less bright.

    What gives, right? Well, quite simply, the diamond exhibits a lower degree of optical precision. Thus while the proportions might be spot-on, the diamond is failing to perform to my standards, because the degree of optical precision could be more precise. If we were able to obtain a hearts image of this diamond, we’d likely see that the hearts are misshapen and irregular in size and shape. That tends to be what causes this type of obstruction between the arrows facets.

    — Todd

    Reply
Krishna Yalla says March 7, 2017

Hi Todd,

Thank you for the great advice on your website. Would you be able to tell me what your thoughts are regarding this stone? Thanks again for any info you may provide.

Kris

Reply
    Todd says March 7, 2017

    Hi Kris,

    Sure thing. The 1.31 carat, I-color, VS-1 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond should be a real sparkler! The 40.8 degree pavilion angle should produce a high volume of light return, while the 34.5 degree crown angle produces a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle) which should take the form of broad spectrum sparkle due to the combination of the 75% lower girdle facet length and the higher degree of optical precision which produces the hearts pattern.

    — Todd

    Reply
Add Your Reply