The heart shape cut is normally comprised of between 56 and 58 facets, however the number of main pavilion facets may vary between 6 and 8. In addition heart shapes are sometimes cut with so called “French tips,” which replace the large bezel facet at the point with star and upper girdle facets. French tips can also be used in both the Marquise and Pear shapes. Heart shapes cut diamonds can differ slightly in appearance depending on their make or structure.
A traditional heart shape will have a ratio between 0.90 and 1.10 and be completely symmetrical with the top arches (or lobes) having even height and width, however these specifications may be altered according to personal preferences.
When you are determining the length to width ratio for heart shapes, the width is measured at the widest point of the shape from the edge of one lobe to the other. A heart shape cut can suffer from an effect called the “bow-tie effect” which means when light passes through the diamond it casts a shadow across the central facets of the stone.
It is unsure where the exact origins of the heart brilliant come from, although since it is a modified brilliant cut it may have appeared as early as even the 16th century. Indeed even gems which would today be classified as ‘triangular with rounded corners’ or ‘drops’ used to be described as being heart-shaped. This is evident from the many descriptions in French inventories dating from as early as the middle of the seventeenth century.
The first recorded heart shape diamond appears in a portrait entitled “The Gonzaga Princess”, which was painted around 1605 by Frans Pourbus the younger. A large piece of jewellery on the princess’s left sleeve contains a variety of different cuts, some of which are thought to be variations of the heart-like ‘drops’ popular in France at the time. The heart shape cut was also mentioned in a book written in 1655 by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (a French merchant who found his fortune in the precious stone trade and actually brought the Hope Diamond to France). In the text, he recalls seeing the “Heart Diamond,” a 36-carat heart-shaped brilliant in an ornament in the treasure of Aurangzeb, India.