This post shows whether Black by Brian Gavin, Whiteflash A Cut Above, or James Allen True Hearts diamonds exhibit the best light performance. It's based on the following inquiry:
"I'm trying to decide between the following Hearts and Arrows diamonds. Surprisingly, the price for the Black by Brian Gavin diamond is less than hearts and arrows diamonds from other sources."
"Based on reviews that I've read on your site and others, I was under the impression that the Black by Brian Gavin diamonds are cut better than other hearts and arrows diamonds."
"Is that not true? Because I have to admit that the higher price of the Crafted by Infinity diamond has me wondering whether it is better or not."
"It stands to reason that there should be a premium for higher cut quality and performance. Am I missing something?"
Which H&A Diamond Should You Pick?
Which Hearts & Arrows Diamond Should You Buy?
Look. It's no wonder you're confused. With all the different brands of hearts and arrows diamonds out there promoting the idea that their diamonds are superior to everything else. There is bound to be some confusion about which hearts and arrows diamond you should buy.
Let's face facts. You want to get this right the first time, correct?
And it stands to reason that not all of these brands of hearts and arrows diamonds can be the best, right?
Q: So, how do you figure out which brand of hearts and arrows diamond you should buy?
A: Read this tutorial and you'll know with 100% certainty by the time you reach the end.
"It's all in the hearts" ~ Brian Gavin
Fifth generation diamond cutter Brian Gavin is famous for saying "It's all in the hearts" but that probably doesn't mean much outside the inner circle of diamond cutting.
In plain English, what Brian is trying to say is that the hearts pattern exhibited by a diamond speaks volumes. There is a lot you can tell about a diamond by the hearts pattern, which is visible through a special handheld scope.
Unfortunately, there are very few people who understand the intricacies of hearts and arrows diamonds. Which means that a lot of people might be fooled into thinking they're buying a hearts and arrows diamond when it's not.
At least not by my standards... And that's what you're here to learn. Because you don't want to buy just any old hearts and arrows diamond. Oh no, because if you're anything like me, you want the very best, right?
Which Brand of Hearts and Arrows Diamond is the Best?
I know what you're thinking. You want to know which brand of hearts and arrows diamond is the best. Because knowing that will enable you to buy a diamond engagement ring, quickly, easily, and effortlessly. Then, you'll be able to get on with your life and spend more time with the one you love.
In a perfect world, I'd like to be able to say something simple like "Just buy the Black by Brian Gavin hearts and arrows diamond because it's the best." But we all know that life is never that simple because there are bound to be exceptions to every rule, right?
With that in mind, I'm going to say that you should consider the characteristics of each individual diamond available and select the best option based on:
You'll notice that I didn't express a preference for diamond color, clarity, or carat weight. Those characteristics of a diamond are much more subjective and will be seen differently by each individual. While the difference in light performance and sparkle factor that result from cut quality can be seen from across the room.
Things to Consider When Buying Hearts and Arrows Diamonds:
I certainly think that the 0.581 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Black by Brian Gavin diamond is the best option. The proportions of the diamond are spot-on and so is the optical precision. Thus, this diamond should exhibit the highest volume of light return and a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.
Now, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I didn't know very much about diamonds when I got my start in the diamond business back in 1985. I thought that diamond prices were pretty transparent and based on the 4C's which were presented to me as Cut (shape), Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight.
It was quite some time before I discovered that Diamond Cut refers to the overall cut quality of the diamond and not shape. Diamond cut quality consists of the proportions, polish, symmetry, and the degree of optical precision.
And here's the kicker:
The overall cut quality of a diamond can affect the price by as much as sixty percent. This includes proportions, polish, symmetry, AND optical precision (which is not taken into account by the labs).
That's right. Diamond cut quality affects price by a whopping sixty percent.
Hearts and Arrows Diamond Prices:
Hearts and Arrows diamonds cost more than standard ideal cut diamonds because it takes about four times longer to polish the diamonds to exhibit the higher degree of optical precision.
Which is one of the reasons why this 0.587 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Crafted by Infinity diamond (left) is more expensive than standard ideal cut diamonds of the same carat weight, color, and clarity.
However, that doesn't explain why it is more expensive than the Black by Brian Gavin hearts and arrows diamond. Nor does it explain they it's more expensive than the other hearts and arrows diamonds, but I believe I can shed some light on this topic.
Black by Brian Gavin vs CBI Diamond Prices:
Imagine for a moment that you're like most people and you only look at the price of these two diamonds:
If you know little or nothing about diamonds, then you'll probably choose the Black by Brian Gavin diamond since appears to be the best value. After all, both diamonds weigh 0.58 carats and are G-color and VS-1 clarity.
Of course, you know more than the average diamond shopper, so you're going to compare the diamond details pages for both diamonds.
It won't take long for you to see that both diamonds:
With this in mind, it is reasonable to conclude that the two diamonds are comparable. But, then why is the Crafted by Infinity diamond $403.00 more expensive than the Black by Brian Gavin?
Factors that Contribute to Hearts and Arrows Diamond Prices:
Based on the information up to this point, the reality is that most people will assume that Crafted by Infinity diamonds are more expensive than Brian Gavin diamonds.
After all, there is a price difference of $403.00 between the two half carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, hearts and arrows diamonds. Believe me, I wish that I could make a blanket statement like that and have it be that simple.
However, the reality is that we're comparing a small handful of diamonds. We're not examining the full extent of their holdings.
In that case, we could examine their inventory and find multiple examples of comparable diamonds being more or less expensive in both their inventories.
There are many factors that contribute to the price of hearts and arrows diamonds. Not the least of which are the conditions under which each piece of diamond rough material is purchased.
Suffice to say that the 0.581 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Black by Brian Gavin offers the best value this time around. Consequently that is why you should buy this diamond.
Just look at the consistency of this Ideal Scope image and the even distribution of hue and saturation. This is proof positive that this diamond exhibits the highest light return.
But we've only scratched the surface of what affects diamond prices...
While people tend to think of diamonds as a symbol of their love and undying devotion, the reality is that they are a precious commodity of limited supply. As such, there are numerous and often unseen, invisible factors that contribute to the price of each diamond.
Not the least of which is supply and demand. The DeBeers Diamond Trading Company (DTC) slashed
prices (nope, no such luck) the rough supply by more than 30% at the beginning of this month. Which means that the diamond cutters who are their sightholders have less material to work with.
The logic behind this decision is most likely based in the likelihood that decreased supply will lead to higher prices. However, while this might be the case, I've noticed a downward trend or leveling in the current prices of diamonds.
Are Diamond Prices Going Up or Down?
The short answer is yes, diamond prices are constantly fluctuating. Consequently, Brian Gavin, Crafted by Infinity, and other online vendors continually adjust their prices.
At the same time, it appears that diamond prices are increasing on the wholesale level. That means that the vendors are choosing to make smaller profits in favor of larger volume.
But that's not the only thing driving down prices. Brian Gavin reveals that they're operating from a new production facility that is state-of-the-art and capable of producing diamonds of higher quality in greater volume.
Economists like to refer to this scenario as "economy of scale" which creates proportionate savings in costs due to an increased level of production.
Based on what I'm seeing in terms of Brian Gavin's prices for diamonds in the 0.20 - 0.99 carat range, they just might offer the best value proposition in the market today.
However, it also stands to reason that you should carefully evaluate the characteristics of each individual diamond. Only in conducting your own due diligence can you rest assured that you're buying the very best.
How to Evaluate Hearts & Arrows Patterns:
It practically goes without saying that the proportions of a diamond are a critical component of light return. So, you'll want to brush up on diamond proportions. Be sure to read this tutorial on diamond proportions if you don't already know what to look for.
Thankfully, all of the super ideal cut diamonds that you're considering have proportions within my preferred range. Therefore, they are all going to exhibit a high volume of light return and a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion. However, there are apt to be differences in light performance and sparkle factor due to varying degrees of optical precision.
Truth be told:
It can be kind of tricky to evaluate hearts and arrows diamonds because not all hearts and arrows diamonds are created equal. Take his 0.544 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond for instance.
The hearts pattern looks pretty good, right?
The hearts appear to be pretty consistent in size and shape and the spacing appears to be pretty even. I'm not seeing any twisting at the tips of the hearts which indicates a higher degree of optical precision.
So, what I'm going to show you next might surprise you...
Because This James Allen True Hearts Diamond is Leaking Light:
That's right. This James Allen True Hearts diamond is leaking light. Thankfully, you don't have to take my word for it because the Ideal Scope image provided by James Allen proves it.
The light pink / semi-translucent region visible under the table facet of this diamond in the Ideal Scope image indicates light leakage.
This is not an extreme case because the regions leaking light are semi-transparent and not full-blown clear. However, the diamond is leaking light and I would prefer to see you opt for one that exhibits better light return.
That is not to say that you shouldn't buy a James Allen True Hearts diamond, but rather that I wouldn't buy this one because it's leaking too much light for my taste. It's all about choosing the best options available at the time.
The ASET Scope Image Is The Next Piece of the Puzzle:
The light performance grading platform which is proprietary to the AGS Laboratory uses Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology (ASET) to determine how effectively diamonds make use of the light which is available to them.
The color red indicates where the diamond is reflecting light back from the brightest light source in the room. There is a lot of red in the ASET Scope image for this 0.544 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond.
So, we know that it should be very bright, but ASET is not the same as Ideal Scope. Plus, the Ideal Scope image indicates that the James Allen True Hearts Diamond is leaking light under the table facet.
The color green indicates where the diamond is gathering and reflecting light back from the second brightest light source in the room. It is normal to see green outlining the triangular shape star facets that border the edge of the table facet as seen here. But that little green arrow that appears beneath the table facet between the blue arrows should be red in an ideal world.
Green Arrows Under Table Facet of Diamond in ASET Scope:
This 0.563 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Victor Canera hearts and arrows diamond has proportions within my preferred range. Thus, it should exhibit a high volume of light return and a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.
All that red in the ASET Scope image indicates that the diamond will be very bright. But the little green arrows visible under the table facet between the blue arrows are an indication that the diamond is reflecting secondary brightness.
Improving the Presence of Secondary Brightness:
Indications of secondary brightness under the table facet can be significantly improved and/or eliminated by fine tuning the minor facets and will create sparkle which is more vivid and intense.
Obviously, this hearts and arrows diamond by Victor Canera exhibits more secondary brightness under the table facet than the James Allen True Hearts diamond.
This is not a blanket statement about the cut quality of Vicor Canera diamonds. Remember that we're discussing the differences in cut quality between this specific selection of diamonds.
Each diamond must be considered on its own merits. Comparing the characteristics of the diamonds which you are considering enables you to select the best option.
In this particular instance, I would not recommend this H&A diamond from Victor Canera because the other diamonds exhibit better optical precision. That is not to say that I wouldn't recommend another one from his inventory.
Red / Green Colors Under Diamond Facet in ASET Scope Image:
Okay, so now you know that the color green in an ASET Scope image indicates secondary brightness. However, there is more to the puzzle and this next part is important.
The colors red and green split the line on the ASET Scope at forty five degrees. This means that light striking the table facet of the diamond can appear to be red or green as seen through an ASET Scope. Which is why you will see the colors red, green, or a mixture of the two in the middle of the diamond in an ASET Scope image.
Okay, so now you know that the color green in an ASET Scope image indicates secondary brightness. However, there is more to the puzzle and this next part is important.
The colors red and green split the line on the ASET Scope at forty five degrees. This means that light striking the table facet of the diamond can appear to be red or green as seen through an ASET Scope.
That is why you will see the colors red, green, or a mixture of the two in the middle of the diamond in an ASET Scope image. However, it is not normal to see the red and green colors bleeding together.
Notice that's what they're doing in the ASET Scope image for this 0.554 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Whiteflash ACA diamond. I added the yellow arrows to the image to highlight the effect.
In my experience, the separation between red and green in the very middle of the table facet will be crisp and clear. That is because the facets on the diamond separate light reflecting throughout the diamond into specific sections.
Red & Green Colors in Middle of ASET:
When I see light reflecting through the diamond bleeding together in an ASET Scope image, it's an indication that something is not right. The only time I've seen this type of effect is when the height of the platform has been changed in the imaging system.
Which would also explain the difference in the degree of hue and saturation in the red colors. Notice how much deeper the red color appears beneath the table facet as opposed to the crown section.
It also stands to reason that altering the design of the imaging unit in this way will change the angle that light strikes the diamond. Which means that this ASET Scope image might not be accurate according to the standards of the AGS Laboratory.
Last but not least, it's hard to see, but there are little green arrows peeking out from under the table facet. More than the James Allen True Hearts diamond, but less than the Victor Canera.
Once again, this has nothing to do with the brand of the diamond, it's something which you need to evaluate on a stone-by-stone basis.
The Black by Brian Gavin Diamond Difference:
One of the characteristics that sets Black by Brian Gavin Diamonds apart from the competition is that the minor facets are fine-tuned to reduce the appearance of secondary brightness under the table facet.
That is why you won't see those little green arrows under the table facet of Black by Brian Gavin Diamonds. Which is not to say that Brian Gavin is the only diamond cutter capable of achieving this feat.
But rather that you can rest assured that every Black by Brian Gavin diamond has been cut with the intent of increasing the volume of primary brightness (red) reflecting up from under the table facet.
And that's why the ASET Scope image for this 0.581 carat, G-color, VS-1 clarity, Black by Brian Gavin Diamond looks so darn great!
Notice the even distribution of hue and saturation. It's easy to see how evenly light is reflecting throughout the diamond. There are no little green arrows under the table facet between the blue arrows created by the pavilion main facets.
Remember that the green in the middle is perfectly normal because the colors red and green share the 45 degree line on the scope. Thus, you might see the colors red, green, or a mixture of the two colors in the center of the table facet.
However, those lines of separation between the colors should be crisp and clear, not bleeding together like watercolors.
Ranking These Five H&A Diamonds in Order of Preference:
Given the characteristics of the other hearts and arrows diamonds, I think that the Black by Brian Gavin is the obvious choice. At least this time around. In that case, I rank the diamonds in this order of preference:
Comparing the Price Per Carat (PPC) of Hearts and Arrows Diamonds:
Most people comparison shop for diamonds using the basic characteristics provided on the lab report:
You're a smarter and more savvy diamond buyer because you know that the labs don't take optical precision into account as part of the grading process. Which is why you need ASET Scope, Ideal Scope, and Hearts and Arrows Scope images to judge optical precision.
In addition to that, you're going to want to look at the Price Per Carat (PPC) if you want to buy a diamond like a professional. It's easy to calculate the price per carat of a diamond using this simple formula:
Cash/wire transfer price divided by carat weight. In the case of the Black by Brian Gavin Diamond, we divide the cash/wire price of $2,275.00 by 0.581 carats = $3,915.66 Price Per Carat (PPC).
Here is the Price Per Carat (PPC) breakdown for these five diamonds:
It Doesn't Take a Rocket Scientist to Figure This Out:
The hearts pattern and degree of optical precision exhibited by the Black by Brian Gavin and Crafted by Infinity diamonds are similar. However, the hearts pattern of the Black does appear to be even more uniform and symmetrical.
The price of the CBI diamond is $403.00 more expensive than the Black. There's really not a question about which of these two diamonds you should choose, right?
Then we have the other three hearts and arrows diamonds. I don't really consider the other three H&A diamonds to be in the same classification of cut quality. They all exhibit crisp and complete patterns of hearts and arrows, but there are some issues apparent in the ASET and Ideal Scope images.
Once again, I'm not making a blanket statement about these brands in general. This is an in-depth evaluation of the characteristics of five individual hearts and arrows diamonds. It's important to carefully consider the characteristics of each individual diamond. Eliminate the diamonds which exhibit visual properties that are less desirable. Focus on the diamonds that exhibit better optical precision.
Use Optical Precision to Separate the Wheat from the Chaff:
It's a pretty simple concept that goes back to Biblical times, right? The idea is to carefully consider the properties of each diamond and separate the best from the rest. It's a basic form of evaluation that you use to ensure that you buy the best looking diamond for your money.
And it applies to more products than just diamonds, does it not? Take performance sports cars for example. I tend to use the analogy that the difference in light performance (created by varying degrees of optical precision) is like the difference in performance that you'll experience driving different cars within the Porsche 911 series.
Beyond First Impressions:
While a Porsche 911 non-turbo and 911 turbo might look similar to the untrained eye, there is definitely a difference between the performance of the two models of Porsche 911. At the same time, you'll get significantly better performance from a Porsche GT3. That's just common sense, right?
Well, the same principle holds true for diamonds and green beans apparently. Because the woman standing next to me in the produce aisle yesterday spent about 10 minutes sorting through a mountain of green beans. There she stood, picking up one green bean at a time and examining it carefully.
Imagine watching her standing there, turning each green bean around and around. Looking at the ends, examining the body for bruises, looking at the consistency of hue and saturation. The vast majority of green beans were thrown back into the pile, but eventually she walked off holding a small bag of green beans which were practically perfect.
Screenshots H&A Diamond Prices, April 12, 2019*
* Diamond prices are subject to change without notice. With that in mind, here are screenshots of the prices for the diamonds featured in this review on April 12, 2019: