Dear Todd, thank you so much for your assistance, your advice has been a tremendous help. To be honest I’m still undecided whether to go with a Hearts and Arrows, or GIA Triple X diamond. My preference is definitely the best possible cut/sparkle, however, wonder whether a larger size diamond is a more appreciable difference to the naked eye. I guess the H&A somewhat guarantees the best possible sparkle which is a good thing. What is your opinion in my situation? In terms of the brand, I really like the Transcend halo ring from Hearts of Fire. Do you know anyone who makes a similar ring or other reputable ring makers? What recommendations do you have? — G.T.
I admit that I had to chuckle when I read your email this morning because I addressed many of the questions that you raise in the article “How does Hearts and Arrows pattern affect sparkle in round brilliant cut diamonds” that I published yesterday… And interestingly enough, one of the rings featured in the article is the split shank French Halo setting from Ritani, which appears to look quite similar to the Transcend Halo from Hearts on Fire (HOF).
We’ve been exchanging emails for a while now, so I know that you most likely wrote your email without looking at the web site (I wouldn’t have either) to see whether I happened to have written an article addressing the concept of whether a hearts and arrows pattern contributes to the sparkle of a diamond, and to see if there just happened to be a ring similar in design to the Transcend Halo from Hearts on Fire but I definitely had to laugh at the degree of kismet that seems to be at play in the universe today.
All right, so I slapped together this graphic to show the similarities and slight differences between the Split Shank French Halo from Ritani, which is pictured on the left side of the graphic; and the Transcend Halo from Hearts on Fire, which is shown on the right side of the graphic featured to the left.
Taking into account slight differences in the focal depth that the ring designers used when creating these computerized renderings for Ritani and Hearts on Fire, it is clear that the two styles of split shank halo appear to be pretty similar to each other.
It looks to me like there is a slight difference in the arc of the band as it extends upward into the halo configuration, and the width of the “V” that splits the shank appears to be a little wider on the version offered by Ritani. If you look at the bottom row very carefully, you’ll notice that the wider split of the “V” in the Ritani version has two more diamonds set on it than the stems of the HOF Transcend.
When I look at the photographs of the two versions of split shank halo that are offered by Ritani and Hearts on Fire, I get the impression that the design of the HOF Transcend Halo is much more compact and that it is going to look smaller on her finger…
There is a slight difference in the total weight of the accent diamonds used in each ring, the split shank French Hal0 from Ritani has a combined total weight of 0.23 carats, while the Transcend Halo from Hearts on Fire has a combined total weight of 0.35 carats… this took a minute to figure out, because the total weight of the ring stated on the first line of the drop-down list provided on the web site is listed as 0.65 carats t.w., but if you look closely you’ll see that it includes a centers stone weighing 0.30 carats.
Ritani clearly states on the product details page for their split shank French Halo setting that the accent diamonds are VS-2 in clarity and H-color, but I couldn’t find a reference to the diamond quality featured in the Transcend Halo by Hearts on Fire; so I ran a search on Google for “What are the quality of accent diamonds in Hearts on Fire engagement rings” and within their Frequently Asked Questions section found a line which indicates that the accent diamonds used in Hearts on Fire engagement rings are G/H color, and that they can be SI-1 or VS-2 in clarity… which seems like kind of a wash to me, the diamonds used by Ritani and Hearts on Fire as accent diamonds in their engagement rings are essentially the same.
According to the listing provided on their web site, the Hearts on Fire Transcend Halo setting costs $4,990.00 in platinum, including a 0.30 carat round diamond center stone of unknown clarity and color… For the sake of argument, let’s just assume that it’s the same clarity and color as the accent diamonds used in the ring.
The split shank French Halo from Ritani is currently priced at $2,970.00 in platinum, without a center stone… so if we search for round diamonds on Ritani which are 0.30 – 0.33 carats, G / H color, and either SI-1 or VS-2 in clarity, there are slightly more than 50 diamonds that fall within the scope of the advanced parameters which I set for polish, symmetry, total depth, and table diameter. I flipped through those options and found two, yes only two round GIA triple excellent cut diamonds that meet my selection criteria… Now these are thirty pointers, they’re not what you asked about, but bear with me for just a second while I wrap up my comparison of the Ritani split shank French halo and the Transcend Hal0 from Hearts on Fire.
As referenced above, the base price for the Transcend Halo from Hearts on Fire is $4,990.00 set with a thirty point center stone. The base price of the Ritani split shank French Halo setting is $2,970.00 and this 0.31 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, round diamond from Ritani which has an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent is $786.00 which brings the total cost of the ring to $3,756.00 The diamond has a crown angle of 34.5 degrees and is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees, which is perfect![separator]
Now you might be thinking to yourself “but the center stone in the ring from Hearts on Fire is a hearts and arrows diamond, and this one from Ritani does not exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows…” and you’d be right, which is why I’m going to suggest this 0.313 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond which is currently selling for $775.00 The diamond exhibits a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows, and has an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal with proportions that are well within my preferred range.
Before we get too deep into this review of GIA Excellent and Hearts and Arrows diamonds, I want to point out that it is possible for a GIA Excellent cut diamond to exhibit hearts and arrows because the pattern is the result of a superior degree of optical symmetry… However the reality is that most of the producers of Hearts and Arrows diamonds who I know, send their diamonds to the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) for grading, because their proprietary Light Performance grading platform which is based on Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology (ASET) provides better insight as to the superior visual performance that results from better diamond cut quality.
In essence what we’re really discussing are two categories of round ideal cut diamonds, those which are graded with an overall cut grade of either GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal-0 which lack the optical symmetry required to produce a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows… And those which are graded either GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal-0 and do exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows.
It is important to understand that both the GIA Excellent and AGS Ideal Cut classifications encompass a broad range of proportions, and the visual properties of the diamond can change dramatically depending on the combination of the crown angle, crown height, pavilion angle, pavilion height measurements, as well as the length of the star and lower girdle facets, and the precision of facet shape and alignment (also known as indexing).
Diamonds which are cut to higher levels of optical symmetry, like the degree of precision required to produce a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows, tend to exhibit better static contrast and produce a higher number of virtual facets, and flashes of light which are brighter and more vibrant… these are the diamonds which I tend to focus upon as a diamond buyer, and they can be either GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal-0,.
The only way to really judge the optical symmetry and light performance of a diamond is to evaluate the diamond using reflectors scopes such as an ASET Scope, an Ideal Scope, and a Hearts and Arrows viewer, which the majority of online diamond dealers and retail jewelry stores do not have the capability to provide… and with good reason, they know full well that their diamonds will not perform well under those grading platforms. With all of this in mind, let’s look at some diamonds that are within the range of quality and price that you requested using my free Diamond Concierge Service.
All right so you can use this criteria to search for diamonds on Ritani if you’d like to follow along and/or duplicate my search without having to set all of the advanced options yourself. This search yielded 14 round diamonds from Ritani which have an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent, and after looking over the diamond grading reports for each of those, there are three diamonds of interest.
This 1.51 carat, F-color, VS-1 clarity, round diamond from Ritani has an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent, with a total depth of 61.8% and a table diameter of 58% with a crown angle of 35.0 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees, with a medium to slightly thick, faceted girdle and no culet. The crown height of the diamond is 14.5% which is about half a percent shy of being absolutely perfect in my eyes, but it’s offset by a pavilion depth of 43.0% which is as good as it gets! Combine all of this with the 75% lower girdle facet length and this diamond has the potential to exhibit a high volume of light return with a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion, and nice bright, vivid flashes of light! However the degree of light performance is largely dependent on the degree of optical symmetry, and Ritani does not provide reflector scope images on their diamond details pages.
Since Ritani does not readily provide reflector scope images (ASET Scope, Ideal Scope, H&A Scope) on their diamond details pages, your option is to either buy the diamond based solely on the details provided on the GIA diamond grading report, or ask for a virtual gemologist appointment and request the imagery required to determine the level of optical symmetry… feel free to forward them to me if you’d like a professional opinion.
I actually like the proportions of this 1.55 carat, E-color, VS-1 clarity, round GIA 3X diamond from Ritani just a little more, because they are spot-on perfect! The diamond has a total depth of 61.7% with a table diameter of 57% and a crown angle of 34.5 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees, with a medium to slightly thick, faceted girdle and no culet. The crown height is 15% and the pavilion depth is 43% and the lower girdle facet length is 75% which is a combination that provides lots of potential for greatness in the sparkle department! Here again, we can’t judge the degree of optical symmetry without an ASET Scope, Ideal Scope, and Hearts and Arrows photograph, but it’s a good start! And the diamond exhibits medium blue fluorescence which I’m quite fond of, it will face up bright and white in normal lighting and glow neon blue when exposed to black light.[separator]
If you’re looking for a diamond which is truly spectacular and which is going to exhibit a high volume of light return with the most sparkle, then I’d definitely grab this 1.511 carat, E-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond which is cut to the exceptional level of optical symmetry necessary to produce the hearts and arrows pattern. The diamond has an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 on the Light Performance grading platform and looks great in all of the reflector scope images.[separator]
People frequently ask me whether it is worth it to pay the extra money for a Hearts and Arrows diamond when there seem to be comparable diamonds available with overall cut grades of either GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal, but which do not exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows… Obviously nobody wants to pay for something which might not be readily visible to them, all I can tell you is that I already specialized in diamonds of extremely fine make when I was first introduced to hearts and arrows diamonds back in the 1990’s and the difference between the diamonds was something which I picked up on right away.
From my perspective, round brilliant ideal cut diamonds which are cut to the level of precision necessary for a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows to form, appear to be brighter and exhibit more intense sparkle than standard ideal cut diamonds… and it was a difference that my clients have been able to see also! When I used to meet with clients in-person, I would show them both zero ideal cut diamonds and Hearts & Arrows diamonds that met my selection criteria, and everybody seemed to choose the Hearts and Arrows diamonds time and time again… when I asked them why, they always said something to the effect of “It just seems to sparkle more” and at the end of the day, isn’t that the real reason why people buy diamonds? For the sparkle…
Speaking of diamonds with amazing sparkle, I’d love to get my hands on this 1.771 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows diamond! Wowza!
Brian Gavin Diamonds offers several variations of split shank halo settings, such as the Belle micropave halo which is absolutely incredible! However, it has diamonds set on three sides of the band, three-quarters of the way around the ring shank and underneath the halo, which adds up to some serious carat weight! I’d been bugging them, and bugging them, to create something similar to the French halo setting from Ritani and finally my client Anita took the bull by the horns and custom ordered the ring that appears to the left. One of the benefits of ordering a custom ring from Brian Gavin is that you get to name the design, most people name it after their fiance.[separator]
The Anita Halo from Brian Gavin is so new that it hasn’t been added to their online catalog yet, but get in touch with Lesley or Jamie and tell them that you heard about the ring on Nice Ice and they’ll know exactly which ring you’re referring to and if you ask me real nice, I’ll share a special discount coupon with you that will save you some money on the setting! Which by the way has a combined total weight of slightly more than half a carat of F-G color, VS-2 clarity, accent diamonds which are cut to the same specifications as larger Brian Gavin Signature round diamonds.
Obviously if they can make this gorgeous ring for my client Anita, then Brian Gavin can custom make a split shank halo setting for you that is similar in concept to either the split shank French Halo setting from Ritani or the Transcend Halo from Hearts on Fire, but I have to say that I really like the flair that Brian Gavin added to the base of the diamond halo on this ring much more than the arched stem that both Ritani and Hearts on Fire used in their version of the ring.
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)
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