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True Hearts vs Ideal Cut: James Allen Hearts & Arrows Review

True Hearts James Allen: Worth Anything Over Ideal Cut?

Summary in a few lines:

This True Hearts™ premium selection of superbly cut diamonds is assured to dazzle, thanks to its unmatched brilliance and outstanding internal symmetry.

The attention to cut, symmetry, and polish here is second to none, as seen in this 1 Carat, H & VS2 True Hearts diamond, priced at $7.6k. This may appear above-average in price for an ideal cut 1 carat diamond, but there’s a good reason for that, which we’ve delved into throughout this article.


So, what makes True Hearts so special? Here’s a brief rundown:

  1. They’re a class apart, featuring premium cut diamonds with symmetric Hearts & Arrows, and are exclusively available at James Allen.
  2. Available in three beautiful shapes: Round, Cushion, and Princess.
  3. Be mindful while choosing: Not every True Hearts diamond is an automatic winner, especially those with lower clarity grades, like certain SI2 diamonds.
  4. True Hearts cut isn’t a recognized standard cut grade; so, you won’t find it on a GIA or AGS certificate. It will be listed as an “Excellent Cut.”
  5. Looking for exceptional sparkle? True Hearts diamonds generally outshine ideal cuts, although this does come at a price.

We’ll dive deeper into these points and more in the upcoming discussion. Let’s get started!

James Allen True Hearts™ Cut Review

Diamond cut quality is a most important factor affecting a diamond’s brilliance and light reflection. In the diamond industry, there are some exceptional and exceedingly rare cuts that transcend regular ideal cuts, hence a handful of online retailers have introduced “premium” selections of these fancy diamond cuts.

JamesAllen Summer Sweethearts Sale 25

We’ve seen this in True Hearts™ by James Allen, A CUT ABOVE™ by Whiteflash, and Astor by Blue Nile™, among others.

Read: Astor by Blue Nile™ Collection Review

Despite the buzz that these selections are unmatched gems, we’re determined to investigate further and see if they are really worth the extra money you will pay for such.

Let’s start off by defining what are True Hearts Diamonds.

What is True Hearts Collection as Defined by James Allen

Officially, James Allen describes True Hearts as being inspired by the signature starburst pattern of hearts and arrows, emblematic of the most ideally cut round diamond.

Each True Hearts™ diamond promises impeccable internal symmetry, proportions, and the highest grade for cut and polish.

If you were to examine a True Hearts™ diamond, you’d witness the famed intricate patterns: an internal reflection of arrows when viewed from the top, and hearts when viewed from the bottom.

Claiming that fewer than 1% of the world’s diamonds possess the perfect internal symmetry and proportions necessary to earn the True Hearts™ distinction, James Allen names these diamonds as a symbol of exclusivity and love.

In essence, True Hearts is James Allen’s trademark, representing a line of superior Hearts & Arrows diamonds characterized by their perfect cut, polish, and symmetry.

Hearts & Arrows (H&A) in Diamonds

To understand what a premium cut means (and later in this article, the price tag difference), let’s take a minute to understand what does it actually mean for a diamond when it’s said to have “identical hearts & arrows”

Hearts and Arrows (H&A) is a term used in the diamond industry to refer to a specific visual effect present in round brilliant cut diamonds that have been cut to exceptionally high levels of symmetry and proportion.

The name comes from the distinct pattern visible when the diamond is viewed from the top (the “arrows” pattern) and the bottom (the “hearts” pattern) through a special viewer known as a Hearts and Arrows viewer.

The “arrows” pattern, visible when viewing the diamond from the top (or table), appears as eight arrowheads radiating from the center of the diamond.

And when you view the diamond from the bottom (or pavilion), you can see the “hearts” pattern, which consists of eight heart shapes around the perimeter of the diamond.

These views (also referred to as Ideal Scope) are found on every True Hearts diamond on James Allen, these images belong to this diamond for example:

JA True Hearts hearts pattern

JA True Hearts arrows pattern

How to Read ASET Images?

The first image, showing the hearts pattern, represents the internal facets of the diamond. For an ideal cut diamond, symmetry is paramount, as it ensures optimal light reflection through the facets and consequently, out of the diamond’s table.

The second image depicts the arrows pattern and includes three colors. The red areas highlight where light will be reflected (and return) to the table, while the black lines provide contrast between facets. Essentially, greater symmetry results in enhanced light reflection.

Finally, the white sections denote areas where light leakage occurs, which should be minimized for best results. Thus, an ideally cut diamond will have very minimal white areas in this pattern.

What Does it Take to Make a H&A Cut Diamond?

Achieving the Hearts and Arrows pattern requires a high degree of craftsmanship. The diamond must be cut and aligned with excellent precision. Even a slight variation in the cut can cause a diamond to lose this effect.

As a result, diamonds exhibiting a true Hearts and Arrows pattern are relatively rare, and they are often sold at a premium due to the high level of skill and precision required in their cutting.

However, it’s worth noting that the presence of a Hearts and Arrows pattern doesn’t automatically mean the diamond has excellent overall quality, as this is solely related to the cut, while clarity & color might not be as perfect as the cut.

Are All True Hearts Follow The Same Standard 100%?

Hearts & Arrows collections, including True Hearts, have gained considerable popularity since the mid-’90s. They’ve also become a significant marketing instrument in the diamond industry, as less than 1% of diamonds are designated as Hearts and Arrows.

On a general note, all True Hearts diamonds exhibit similar features in terms of their Hearts & Arrows proportion, as we’ve already examined. However, with our extensive industry experience, we’ve seen many True Hearts diamonds that don’t perfectly align with the “optimal” proportion and symmetry standards.

Without going in deep technical comparison, we can say that the vast majority of True Hearts diamonds adhere to the same standards regarding symmetry, cut, and polish.

In simpler terms, the Hearts & Arrows are clearly visible in over 95% of cases.

However, does this imply that all True Hearts diamonds are exceptional? Certainly not. The Hearts & Arrows factor is relevant to cut, polish, and symmetry, but what about other vital attributes like clarity and color grades?

That’s why it’s critical to look at any diamond from all angles, not only the cut, even if it was a True Hearts one (or any other Hearts & Arrows in general).

True Hearts vs Ideal Cut Diamonds: Is There a Real Difference?

When navigating the diamond market, a recurring question often revolves around the apparent distinction between True Hearts and Ideal Cut diamonds. Are there substantial differences that validate the price disparities? This inquiry often stems from a need to understand whether the price differential is indeed warranted.

Let’s first delve into the essence of these diamond cuts before we tackle the price factor.

Cut Comparison: True Hearts vs. Ideal Cut

Diamonds, in general, will naturally form internal hearts and arrows, depending on the symmetry and quality of the cut. The greater the symmetry and quality, the more visible the hearts and arrows become, which in turn, enhances light reflection and imparts a unique touch to the cut.

True Heart diamonds boast superior hearts and arrows, which in many instances, surpass those found in ideal cut diamonds. This distinction often culminates in a ‘premium’ diamond cut, such as the True Hearts.

However, it’s critical to understand that not all True Hearts diamonds outshine Ideal cut ones. We’ve encountered numerous Ideal cut diamonds with impeccable proportions that weren’t labeled as True Hearts or included in any other premium collection.

Such instances usually pertain to technical factors related to the hearts and arrows, which might not necessarily affect the buyer’s experience, given the superbly clean cut of the diamond.

For instance, consider this stunning 1 carat Ideal cut diamond:

1 Carat ideal cut perfect symmetry

Cut? Ideal/Excellent
Symmetry? Excellent
Polish? Excellent
Table & Depth percentages? Outstanding

Despite meeting these excellent standards, this diamond, priced at $5.8k, was not classified under the True Hearts criteria due to purely technical reasons. Yet, its cut, examined under magnification, visibly showcases perfect Hearts and Arrows.

True Hearts vs. Ideal Cut: Price Differential

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room – the price difference. A striking price disparity exists between True Hearts and Ideal Cut diamonds, averaging at a 20-30% increase for True Hearts. For instance, a 1.0 H-VS2 Excellent Cut Diamond is priced at $5990, while a similar 1 Carat True Hearts H-VS2 diamond costs $7830.

The overall consensus is that True Hearts diamonds are pricey, with an average 25% increase compared to similar diamonds with an ideal cut. Yet, the previously mentioned Ideal cut diamond, despite not falling under the True Hearts classification, possesses similar excellent characteristics and costs considerably less.

In conclusion, while True Hearts diamonds generally surpass Ideal cut diamonds, the difference in cut often doesn’t justify the hefty price tag. Thus, in many instances, a carefully selected Ideal cut diamond may offer more value for your money.

True Hearts Grading & Certifications

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll know that we consistently stress the importance of checking a diamond’s certificate and ensuring that it’s been certified by a reputable lab. AGS and GIA are our go-to recommendations for diamond certification.

However, when you’re interested in purchasing a branded diamond, such as True Hearts (by James Allen) or Astor (by Blue Nile), the conventional certification-checking process may not yield the most useful information. Here’s why.

Are True Hearts Diamonds Certified by GIA?

Many potential buyers search for certification clues that justify the 20-30% premium price tag of diamonds like True Hearts or Astor, compared to other ideal cut diamonds, but to no avail.

GIA, one of the most respected diamond certification labs, categorizes diamonds into five cut grades:

Excellent (EX), Very Good (VG), Good (G), Fair (F), and Poor (P).

However, GIA doesn’t specifically recognize True Hearts, Astor, or any other Hearts and Arrows (H&A) diamonds in their certificates, instead, they will list them under the “Excellent Cut” category.

For instance, here’s the certificate for this diamond we examined above – it simply states “Excellent” in the cut grade.

GIA certificate for True Hearts diamond

Are True Hearts Diamonds Certified by AGS?

Similarly to GIA, AGS doesn’t specifically recognize True Hearts or Astor. Instead, you will find a “Triple 0” grade on an AGS certificate.

This grade is because AGS grades cuts numerically – a “000” grade means the diamond has a 0 in Cut, 0 in Polish, and 0 in Symmetry (also known as AGS 000).

It’s important to note that traditionally, an AGS Triple Zero diamond meant a diamond with a 0 grade in cut (Ideal), 0 in clarity (Flawless), and 0 in Color (D grade).

However, sellers started referring to diamonds with 0 cut grade as triple zeros, as to attain this cut grade, the proportions, polish, and symmetry all had to be 0. Over time, this terminology has been adopted more broadly.

It was even recognized on AGS website, but then removed that, here is what was mentioned there:

“Technically an AGS triple zero was a diamond with a 0 grade in cut (Ideal), 0 in clarity (IF or Flawless) and 0 in Color (D). AGS 000. However, sellers (internet sellers at first) started calling diamonds with 0 cut triple zeros because proportions, polish & symmetry all had to be 0 to get the cut grade AGS 0. AGS tried to address this, but it has entered the modern lexicon. It became an ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ thing.”  American Gem Society website

This grading system is different from the marketing term “Triple Excellent,” which we’ve previously discussed and debunked as a made-up “grade” employed by some salespeople.

An Exception: Whiteflash’s A CUT ABOVE®

A CUT ABOVE® (by Whiteflash) is an exception to this rule.

Unlike other branded diamonds, this premium collection does have its branded name included on AGS certificates. Whiteflash has positioned itself as a leader in the premium collections market, and their A CUT ABOVE® collection is certified by AGS (though not GIA).

Look at this diamond certificate for example:

A CUT ABOVE Certificate by AGS

It clearly confirms that the diamond has a superior cut, even used the brand term of Whiteflash for this collection, A CUT ABOVE.

In conclusion, when looking at premium collections like True Hearts, it’s important to understand the limitations of certification when it comes to branded diamonds, and to conduct thorough research to ensure you’re getting the best value for your investment.

In Which Shapes/Cuts You Can Find True Hearts™?

Confusing diamond cut with diamond shape? Our Diamond Cut vs. Shapes article will help clear up any ambiguity.

True Hearts™ diamonds, a premium collection by James Allen, are currently available in three specific shapes:

  1. Round: This is the most prevalent shape and boasts the most extensive collection of True Hearts™ diamonds at James Allen. At the time of updating this blog, there were around 530 round-shaped True Hearts™ diamonds available here.
  2. Princess: The princess cut, a favorite among many, features a modern, unique design that reflects most of the light, placing it within the Brilliant Shapes Family. However, James Allen currently has a significantly smaller collection of princess-shaped True Hearts™ diamonds, with approximately 30 diamonds available here.
  3. Cushion: Although it may not be among the top-favored shapes, the cushion cut is distinctive, appearing almost square with rounded edges. Its light reflection isn’t as impressive as the other two shapes. As of now, James Allen holds a very limited number of True Hearts™ cushion diamonds, with only around 4 available here.

Do keep in mind that availability might vary, and it’s always recommended to check directly on the James Allen website for the most updated inventory

True Hearts™ by James Allen Summary: Worth it?

In short, here is what you discussed and agreed on in our article:

  1. Cut Quality: True Hearts™ diamonds have a precise cut that gives them a distinct “hearts and arrows” pattern, representing optimal symmetry and light performance. However, not all True Hearts™ diamonds adhere to these standards 100% of the time.
  2. Price Tag: True Hearts™ diamonds generally come with a premium price tag, often 20-30% more expensive than diamonds with an ideal cut. However, the perceived added value of True Hearts™ diamonds might not always justify this price difference, depending on the individual diamond’s specific attributes.
  3. Certification: While True Hearts™ diamonds are often of superior quality, their special cut isn’t recognized by key diamond certification bodies like the GIA and AGS. These labs will simply classify them as having an “Excellent” cut grade.
  4. Limited Shapes: True Hearts™ diamonds are available in limited shapes, specifically round, princess, and cushion. The round shape is the most common, followed by the princess and the relatively rare cushion cut.
  5. Comparison with Ideal Cut: While True Hearts™ diamonds are generally superior to Ideal cut diamonds, there are instances where ideal cut diamonds demonstrate equally impressive proportions and symmetry, often at a significantly lower price. Therefore, the superiority of True Hearts™ is not universal.

If you have set a decent budget for your diamond and want to skip most of the 4Cs, Polish, Symmetry, etc.. hassle, it’s worth taking a look at this True Hearts selection.

Still not sure where to buy your diamond?

We always recommend shopping diamonds online and created a Full guide to shop diamonds like a Pro.
Among online retailers, here are our favorite stores click their logo to visit store

  1. James Allen:

    Our favorite online store, best diamond imaging technology available today, comes with the largest collection with more than half a million loose diamonds.

    Latest JA Logo

  2. Blue Nile:

    Widest collection of loose diamonds of all sizes, great imaging technology for most of their inventory (hundreds of thousands of diamonds), great customer support.

    Blue Nile Latest Logo

  3. Whiteflash:

    Home Of A CUT ABOVE® Super Ideal Diamonds, they stand out from the crowd by offering premium diamonds cuts, tailored to those who love the details, at great prices too.

    WF logo black

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