“Hi Todd, you helped a friend of mine find a diamond from James Allen awhile back, and after seeing how beautiful the diamond looks, I’m a believer! Could you help me select the best James Allen True Hearts diamond in the range of 1.10 – 1.49 carats, D to I-color, VS-2 in clarity? I would like it to be the type of diamond that you would choose for yourself if you were buying an engagement ring. I’m not sure exactly how much I’m willing to spend on the ring at this point, so perhaps you can provide me with a range of options; feel free to turn this into a blog post since I’m in the early stages of figuring things out. The ring I like is this 14k white gold, channel set, vintage engagement ring from James Allen.”
I love this type of project, because it gives me the opportunity to sift through the current inventory of James Allen True Hearts diamonds, determine what the best options are, and hopefully help you and a few other clients at the same time by providing some recommendations along the lines of what I would buy personally. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of your diamond ring buying experience by taking advantage of my free Diamond Concierge Service!
Since the ultimate goal is to teach you how to choose the best round ideal cut diamonds without having to wait for my confirmation that you’ve made a good choice, I’m going to provide you with an outline of the selection criteria that I rely on to select the James Allen True Hearts diamonds that are going to deliver the highest volume of light return and the best sparkle factor:
Or you could simply click this link to Search James Allen True Hearts diamonds, which has all of this information encoded into it, and then simply right click your mouse over each individual diamond photograph, and open the diamond details page up in a new tab, to proceed to the next step of the diamond selection process, which will be to open up the diamond grading report for each diamond and eliminate those which do not have a pavilion angle between 40.6 – 40.9 degrees, and a crown angle between 34.3 – 35.0 degrees.[separator]
At this point of the diamond selection process, there were tabs for seven James Allen True Hearts diamonds open in my internet browser window; I quickly flipped through the details provided on the diamond grading reports to verify that all of them had either an overall cut grade of GIA Excellent or AGS Ideal, and that the inclusions (flaws) within the diamond met my selection criteria, and that the diamonds exhibit an acceptable degree of optical precision in the various reflector scope images.
It was at this point that I decided to eliminate this 1.107 carat, D-color, VVS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond from the mix, because of the muddled ASET image provided on the diamond grading report issued by the AGS Laboratory. I don’t like the way the green is splattered about throughout the diamond, nor how the blue arrows appear to be distorted and unsymmetrical. This is a clear indication to me that this diamond does not exhibit the highest degree of optical precision, despite having an overall cut grade of AGS Ideal-0 and having the right proportions, so I passed on it.[separator]
Another thing that I didn’t like about the 1.107 carat, D-color, VVS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond is that the hearts pattern exhibits irregularities, just look at the difference between the symmetry of the hearts located on the left and right sides of the diamond. Do you see how the edges of the hearts on the left side of the diamond bleed into the arrowheads located beneath them? This is not a good example of what I consider to be a “Hearts and Arrows diamond” and thus I don’t know why it would be placed in the James Allen True Hearts collection, it’s more of a traditional ideal cut diamond.[separator]
It is perfectly normal for a round brilliant ideal cut diamond that was not specifically cut to exhibit a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows, to exhibit a slightly distorted, unsymmetrical hearts pattern like the one pictured above, this is because the hearts pattern is created by light reflecting off of the pavilion main facets on one side of the diamond, on to the lower girdle facets located on the other side of the diamond, which creates the hearts pattern. Any variance in the size, shape, alignment, or indexing of the pavilion facets, will create variances in the hearts pattern, similar to what is pictured above.
One more thing that raised kind of a red flag in my mind about this 1.107 carat, D-color, VVS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond is that the diamond grading report is dated July 13, 2010; which leads me to wonder “Exactly where has this diamond been for the past 4.5 years?”
I realize that diamonds aren’t like a loaf of bread, they don’t come with an expiration date, and they’re not going to go bad, but from the perspective of being “mind clean” I like my diamond grading reports to be a bit fresher than this.
So this an excellent example of an ideal cut diamond that I would not be likely to purchase, even though it seems to fit within the range of technical parameters that I search for… Now let’s look over the details of a few James Allen True Hearts diamonds that I would buy.
The hearts pattern exhibited by this 1.138 carat, G-color, VVS-1 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond is not absolutely perfect, but it’s within the realm of what I consider to be acceptable; there are slight variations in the size and shape of the hearts, and some splitting in the clefts, but it’s well within the range of B+ hearts that are better than I expect to see from the average zero ideal cut diamond. This degree of optical precision, combined with the 40.9 degree pavilion angle, and 34.3 degree crown angle should make this diamond a real fire cracker! The 40.9 degree pavilion angle is going to provide a high volume of light return; while the 34.3 degree crown angle produces a virtual balance of brilliance (white sparkle) and dispersion (colored sparkle) and the 78% lower girdle facets should produce what I like to call “broad spectrum sparkle” which is the type of sparkle that people tend to notice from across the room![separator]
Broad spectrum sparkle tends to be larger in size, bolder, brighter, and more vivid than the sparkle that would be exhibited by a diamond cut to the same proportions, but which has lower girdle facets in the range of 80 – 82% which tends to produce sparkle that is smaller in size and more like the pin-fire sparkle that reflects off of a disco ball.
Now some people like the idea of a diamond that sparkles like a disco ball, and this is largely a matter of personal preference; however our human eyes tend to have difficulty dispersing the smaller flashes of white light into colored light, and thus ideal cut diamonds that feature lower girdle facets in the range of 80 – 82% seem to exhibit more brilliance, than a virtual balance of the two factors of sparkle, brilliance and dispersion.
There are two things that give me pause about this 1.138 carat, G-color, VVS-1 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond, the first is that the diamond is graded by the American Gem Society Laboratory on the grading platform that does NOT provide the ASET image produced by the Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology scan, thus there is no indication of how the diamond is making use of the light that is available to it from within the hemisphere; and the second is that the date on the diamond grading report is November 13, 2006 or it might be 2008, I can’t see the diamond grading report clearly enough to make that determination, but it’s OLD, too old for my comfort zone.
I don’t know where James Allen is getting his inventory of True Hearts diamonds from, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s not from an antique shop, because the diamond grading report issued by the AGSL for this 1.188 carat, E-color, VVS-1 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond is dated June 09, 2008. Is a seven year old diamond grading report too old? It would only cost about $125.00 to have the diamond re-graded, why doesn’t James Allen send it back to AGSL for an update?
I’m not trying to cause trouble, it just seems to me that it makes sense to try and maintain diamond grading reports on your inventory that are as fresh as possible; I think it makes sense to send any diamond that has a diamond grading report older than two or three years, back to the laboratory to be updated; so that people who are thinking about buying a diamond online can have the peace of mind of knowing that the paper is reasonably fresh.[separator]
This 1.188 carat, E-color, VVS-1 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond has a pavilion angle of 40.8 degrees, so it it going to provide a high volume of light return; and the 34.5 degree crown angle is going to produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion; while the 74% lower girdle facets are going to produce the broad spectrum sparkle that I prefer in a diamond, so it’s a nice ideal cut diamond; but I have no idea why anybody would put this diamond in their collection of “Hearts and Arrows” diamonds since it clearly exhibits an unsymmetrical pattern of hearts that bleed into each other.[separator]
Once again this James Allen True Hearts diamond meets my expectations for what a standard ideal cut diamond should look like when viewed through a reflector scope, but it does not meet my selection criteria for what qualifies as a true Hearts and Arrows diamond; but you don’t have to take my word for it, review the criteria stated for the Hearts and Arrows pattern grading parameters established by the HRD Belgium, and tell me whether you think the pattern of “hearts” exhibited by this 1.188 carat, E-color, VVS-1 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond meets those standards.
I’m beginning to wonder whether James Allen and Blue Nile are using the same diamond buyer, since the “hearts and arrows” patterns featured on the GCAL diamond grading reports of Blue Nile Signature round diamonds, also fail to meet my selection criteria on a regular basis… All right, that comment might have been a bit snarky, but don’t you think that somebody experienced in grading hearts and arrows diamonds should actually be LOOKING at these patterns before listing them as hearts and arrows diamonds?!?!
Posting “hearts and arrows diamonds” that exhibit this sort of irregularity in the pattern of hearts and arrows, totally dilutes the value of the James Allen True Hearts brand in my opinion; it seems to me that if you’re going to call something “True Hearts” that the hearts should actually look like “true” hearts! And if it’s a matter of not getting the diamonds lined up properly with the camera lens so that the hearts pattern faces-up correctly, then FIRE your photographer and hire somebody who appreciates their job enough to take 30 seconds to get it right! Moving on…
Well I’ll be damned, just when I was beginning to think that it wasn’t possible, here is a lab report that is less than five years old! The diamond grading report for this 1.225 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond is dated October 26, 2011. Praise the Lord, it’s a miracle! But wait, there’s more… If you order in the next 30 seconds, you will get a James Allen True Hearts diamond that actually exhibits a fairly decent pattern of Hearts and Arrows! Note that there is just a little bit of twisting in the tips of the hearts featured in the 2-4-6-9 and 11 o’clock positions, but this a major improvement![separator]
Just in case you’re wondering… yes, I do realize that I’m probably going to be sent to Diamond Affiliate Marketing HELL when James Allen reads this review; but that won’t stop me from writing about what I see, and it’s not like I’m making this stuff up!
Everything that I’m teaching you to look for is based upon what I’m seeing on the diamond grading reports, and the reflector scope images that James Allen provides for you to take into consideration while deciding which diamond to buy online.
The nagging question that is bothering me, is why do diamond dealers like James Allen bother to put hearts and arrows images like these up? Is it because consumers are likely to assume that a diamond “must be hearts and arrows” if it is accompanied by a photograph of the diamond as seen through a hearts and arrows scope? Because if that’s the case, that’s just stupid. But I can’t think of any other reason… What do you think?
All right, if we set aside the fact that I don’t think that the pattern of this 1.225 carat, G-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond is actually up to par with true hearts and arrows quality, and we consider the diamond from the perspective of just being an AGS Ideal-0 cut diamond, then it’s a winner! The 40.9 degree pavilion angle is going to produce a high volume of light return, while the 34.4 degree crown angle is going to produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion, while the 76% lower girdle facets produce the broad spectrum sparkle that I crave in a diamond!
The hearts pattern exhibited by this 1.227 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond is actually pretty good; the hearts vary slightly in shape, with some variance in the spacing between the hearts and the arrowheads located beneath them, but it’s definitely up in the B+ category of better than most ideal cut diamonds, but still not quite what I consider to be true hearts and arrows. The 34.3 degree crown angle should produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion, while the 40.9 degree pavilion angle provides a high volume of light return.[separator]
The 75% lower girdle facet length should produce the broad spectrum sparkle that I am so fond of, and the diamond grading report is relatively fresh, issued on January 22, 2014, so no complaints there. However once again the diamond is graded on the old grading platform of the AGSL which does not rely on Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology to determine the Light Performance of the diamond; and one has to wonder why James Allen would choose that grading platform over the one that provides the best insight into the Light Performance of the diamond.
This is always going to be a red flag to me, because the diamond cutters choose which diamond grading report they want issued for a diamond after they receive the results from the AGS Laboratory; and it seems like James Allen chooses to have Light Performance diamond grading reports issued by the AGS Laboratory for some James Allen True Hearts diamonds, but not for others, which causes me to doubt the consistency of the brand.
Note that every Brian Gavin Signature round hearts and arrows diamond is graded by the AGS Laboratory on the Light Performance grading platform, and so is every Crafted by Infinity round hearts and arrows diamond; they do so for the purpose of maintaining consistent parameters for the brand, the brand name even appears on the diamond grading report issued by the AGSL, right above the diamond proportions diagram; this type of thing builds consumer confidence in the diamond brand, and it costs practically nothing; so why doesn’t James Allen do the same?
And every Brian Gavin Signature round hearts and arrows diamond, and Crafted by Infinity round hearts and arrows diamond, is inscribed with their brand name on the girdle edge of the diamond; whereas NONE of the James Allen True Hearts brand diamonds that I’ve evaluated thus far in this article are inscribed with the brand name; they are inscribed with either just the diamond grading report number, or nothing at all.
Case in point: click on the diamond grading report issued for this 1.225 carat, I-color, VVS-1 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond, and under the comments section it indicates that “AGSL 104059904027” has been inscribed on the girdle edge of this diamond, there is no mention of it being a James Allen True Hearts brand diamond. The diamond does however exhibit a pretty nice hearts pattern, with only very slight variations in the size and shape of the hearts, I’m going to give it an A- grade. The 40.8 degree pavilion angle is going to produce a high volume of light return.
And the 34.8 degree crown angle is going to produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion, while the 76% lower girdle facets should produce the broad spectrum sparkle that I look for in a top performing diamond! I would definitely put this diamond at the top of my short list…[separator]
This 1.231 carat, H-color, VS-2 clarity, James Allen True Hearts diamond is another one that I would keep at the top of my short list. The hearts pattern looks pretty good, it exhibits only very slight variances in the size and shape of the hearts. The 40.7 degree pavilion angle is going to produce a high volume of light return, while the 34.4 degree crown angle provides a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion, and the 77% lower girdle facets produce the broad spectrum sparkle that we want to see! The diamond grading report is current, and the diamond is inscribed with the report number.[separator]
As you can see, picking the best James Allen True Hearts diamond is not as easy as shooting fish in a barrel, but there are a few really good options to be found if you’re willing to do a little work, and look over the details on the diamond grading report and reflector scope images, it is possible to buy a very nice ideal cut diamond that exhibits a reasonably good pattern of hearts and arrows.
But if you don’t want to mess with all of that, you can use my free Diamond Concierge Service, and I’ll do all of the leg work for you, and help you find the best diamond available within your desired price range, and range of diamond characteristics.
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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