I thought I’d wander through the inventory of James Allen True Hearts today because with Valentines Day just around the corner, it might be cool to present her with a True Hearts Diamond. You can assign a special meaning to each of the eight hearts which are created by the kite shaped bezel main facets located on the top of the stone and win a few dog points… you’ll need them later.
James Allen offers an extensive selection of diamonds in sizes and price ranges for practically any budget… in this particular instance I wanted to focus on round brilliant ideal cut diamonds in the range of 1.20 carats which are likely to be “eye clean” and near colorless because they offer a nice balance of size, color and clarity without breaking the bank. I used the Advanced Options of the diamond search tool to narrow down the options in terms of Total Depth which I set between 59 – 61.9% and a Table Diameter between 53 – 57.5% with either GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal polish and symmetry which resulted in three options which I’m going to review as if we were sitting together in our jewelry store and trying to narrow the three options down to one to be used in an engagement ring.
The three options are as follows:
James Allen True Hearts Diamond graded by the GIA Laboratory as weighing 1.21 carats, SI-1 in clarity and I in color with no fluorescence and an Overall Cut Rating of GIA Excellent.
James Allen True Hearts Diamond graded by the GIA Laboratory as weighing 1.22 carats, SI-1 in clarity and J in color with no fluorescence and an Overall Cut Rating of GIA Excellent.
James Allen True Hearts Diamond graded by the GIA Laboratory as weighing 1.22 carats, VS-2 in clarity and G in color with faint fluorescence and an Overall Cut Rating of GIA Excellent.
So the first thing to realize is that all three of the diamonds have pretty much the same carat weight and they were all graded by the GIA Laboratory as having an overall cut rating of GIA Excellent which is the highest rating available from the GIA for this factor… it means that the diamonds all have Excellent Polish and Symmetry and that the proportions of the diamond fall within the criteria for GIA Excellent.
If we were looking at the three diamonds side-by-side on a diamond grading tray and they were positioned in the face-up position as they would be mounted in an engagement ring, they would face-up essentially the same in terms of size… the outside diameter measurements of the three diamonds are practically the same with very little variance.
The primary difference between the three diamonds is the clarity and the color, two of the diamonds are graded as being SI-1 in clarity and one is graded as VS-2 in clarity which is one clarity grade higher than SI-1. The important thing for you to realize is that there usually is not a distinct visual difference between most GIA graded SI-1 clarity and VS-2 clarity diamonds because SI-1 is the first stage of clarity where diamonds begin to be “eye clean” to most people with average vision. So there probably isn’t going to be a distinct visual difference between the diamonds in terms of the visibility of inclusions without magnification… there will be a very slight difference in the visibility of the inclusions when the diamonds are examined using 10x magnification which is the industry standard for diamond grading. And if you know a little bit about diamond clarity, you might have noticed that I made a little pun when I said there would be a “very slight” difference because the “VS” rating is an abbreviation for “very slight”. Feel free to use that reference when you’re discussing diamond clarity with the clerk at the jewelry store because they’ll think you’re “brilliant”.
All three of the diamonds are within the same range of color which is “near colorless” as defined by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) which specifies that diamonds are near colorless in the range of G-H-I-J. When we evaluate “white” diamonds for “color” we are actually judging them for an absence of color. Diamonds are graded for an absence of color with “D” being considered as “colorless” and “Z” being considered as “faint yellow” so all three of these diamonds are in the range of “near colorless” which will face up quite nicely in an engagement ring. The “G” color diamond will exhibit a little less tonal value than the “I” color diamond and the “J” will be just a little warmer in hue than the “G” or the “I” color diamond. The diamond in my wedding ring was an “I” color diamond if that is any indication of what I find to be acceptable in terms of diamond color. Sure it would be nice to have a “D” color diamond, but it would also drive up the price astronomically and it wouldn’t be that noticeable when viewing the diamonds from a top down perspective… it is quite noticeable when diamonds are graded in laboratory conditions where they are placed upside down at an angle on a crisp, white diamond grading tray and examined from a side profile under a controlled light source in a pitch black room where the only light is provided by the diamond grading light… it is much more difficult to ascertain subtle differences in the color of diamonds in the real world where they are viewed from a top down profile in a variety of lighting environments.
Now that we have ascertained that all three of the diamonds are comparable in terms of being within the same range of clarity and color, we’ll dissect them to determine which diamond presents the best potential in terms of visual performance based upon the proportions of the diamonds. I tend to be quite selective in terms of diamond proportions because the crown and pavilion angles of the diamonds create the primary “mirrors” of the diamond which will control the amount of light return and determine the type of sparkle which the diamond will produce. Since I tend to prefer a balance of brilliance (reflected white light) and dispersion (reflected colored light or “fire”) I generally look for diamonds with a crown angle between 34.3 – 34.9 degrees offset by a pavilion angle between 40.6 – 40.9 degrees. Note that there are other combinations that are known to work quite nicely as well, such as a slightly shallower crown angle offset by a pavilion angle which is a little steeper, but there is a little more guesswork involved with the selection process and since we’re shopping for diamonds online, I like to stick with measurements which are more likely to produce the look that I’m looking for in a diamond.
Pictured above is the plotting and proportions diagram from the GIA lab report for the James Allen True Hearts Diamond graded by the GIA Laboratory as weighing 1.21 carats, SI-1 in clarity and I in color if you look at the proportions diagram pictured on the right, you’ll see that the diamond has a crown angle of 33.0 degrees which is offset by a pavilion angle of 41.0 degrees. This is obviously outside of the preferred proportions that I stated previously, but it’s possible that this diamond is quite lively because the shallower crown angle might work nicely with the slightly steep pavilion angle. Taking a look at the inclusions indicated on the plotting diagram pictured on the left, we can see that the primary inclusions resulting in the SI-1 clarity grade are indicated as feather, twinning wisp, crystal and needle. Inclusions are always listed under the plotting diagram in the order of their influence upon the clarity grade of the diamond, thus the feathers and twinning wisps are the most prominent inclusions within the diamond and the diamond crystals and needle shaped diamond crystals are less prominent. Now a “feather” is a polite industry term used to describe minute fractures within the diamond, they usually aren’t a big deal and in this particular instance that is true… however you want to avoid diamonds where the feathers appear to be extensive or where there are “stacks” of tiny feathers located in close proximity to one another like this /// which can often be seen along the girdle edge of diamonds…
I’m generally not a huge fan of twinning wisps as an inclusion type because they represent either a twisting of the crystal structure of the diamond and/or twisted intergrowth which contains inclusions such as pinpoint size diamond crystals and in my opinion it presents a potential durability risk. In this particular instance while the twinning wisps are numerous, they are small in size and are unlikely to present a risk, in most cases twinning wisps are much more extensive than they appear to be within this diamond. If you double click your mouse on the clarity photograph of the diamond provided on the diamond details page you will be able to see a high resolution image of the diamond and rotate it to be able to judge the size, location and extent of the more prominent inclusions within the diamond… if you look carefully you will be able to see the darker reflections of the diamond crystals and the thin white lines which are the feathers and twinning wisps. The inclusions look pretty substantial in this photograph, but keep in mind that you’re looking at a diamond which is just a little larger than the eraser on a standard #2 pencil, but magnified up to the size of a tennis ball.
Next we’re going to look at the details for the James Allen True Hearts Diamond graded by the GIA Laboratory as weighing 1.22 carats, SI-1 in clarity and J in color with no fluorescence. I like the overall proportions of this diamond much better, the crown angle of 34.5 degrees is an excellent offset for the pavilion angle of 40.6 degrees and it should exhibit a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion. This diamond has the proportions which I look for in a round brilliant ideal cut diamond… this diamond contains the same type of inclusions as the diamond we just discussed with the addition of an indented natural which is simply part of the original skin of the diamond which is located along the girdle edge of the diamond… this is nothing to be concerned about. Since this diamond is a “J” color it will face up a little warmer than the “I” color diamond which we previously discussed, but not by very much… the reality is that the sparkle of the diamond will help to mask the body color of the diamond when it is viewed from a top down perspective, but the diamond will be visibly warm when the diamond is viewed from a side profile as it would be if being evaluated for color in a diamond grading laboratory. I wouldn’t really worry about the color because diamonds are not typically judged from a side-profile by consumers and according to the GIA the average diamond color sold in jewelry stores throughout the country is “N” which is considered to be faint yellow.
This James Allen True Hearts Diamond graded by the GIA Laboratory as weighing 1.22 carats, VS-2 in clarity and G in color with faint fluorescence is definitely top notch! The proportions of the diamond are spot-on and should produce an exceptional amount of light return, I’m a big fan of the 34.5 degree crown angle being offset by a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees. There are fewer inclusions within the diamond and they are smaller and less noticeable than those contained within the SI-1 clarity options discussed previously. The VS-2 clarity grade of this diamond is based upon the presence of small diamond crystals and small needle shaped diamond crystals, these are essentially tiny diamond crystals which were trapped within the larger diamond crystal as it formed and as such are nothing to be concerned about.
James Allen has selected all three of these diamonds to be included in their True Hearts Diamonds collection which means that a pattern of hearts and arrows is clearly visible when the diamonds are viewed while unmounted through a special scope. If you go to the diamond details pages for any of the diamonds mentioned above and click your mouse on the small images of the Arrows and Hearts pattern as pictured below, a larger version of the image will pop up on the screen so that you can judge the precision of the hearts and arrows pattern.
H&A patterns are judged for consistency in terms of the size and shape of the hearts and there should not be significant differences between the hearts, nor twisting of the tips of the hearts and there should be even spacing between the tips of the hearts and the V-shaped arrow heads which appear beneath them. In addition the contrast of the arrow shafts should be relatively even and the arrow heads should be aligned straight with the arrow shafts and not be tilted in one direction or the other.[separator]
* Prices listed on the James Allen web site at the time this article was written, subject to change without notice due to fluctuations in the global diamond market.
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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