The heart shape is usually comprised of between 56 and 58 facets, although the number
of main pavilion facets may vary between 6, 7 and 8. Additionally, heart shapes
are sometimes cut with “French tips,” which replace the large bezel facet at the
point with star and upper girdle facets. French tips are also used in the Marquise
and Pear shapes. Heart shapes may differ slightly in appearance depending on their
make or structure.
The traditional heart shape should have a ratio between 0.90 and 1.10 and be absolutely
symmetrical with the lobes (top arches) of even height and breadth, although these
specifications may be altered according to personal preferences.
In 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. In addition,
the heart shape can suffer from a so-called “bow-tie effect” when light passing
through the diamond casts a shadow across the central facets of the stone.
4. History & Background
The exact origins of the heart brilliant are unknown although being a modified brilliant
cut it may have appeared as early as the 16th century. However, gems which would
today be classified as ‘triangular with rounded corners’ or ‘drops’ were at one
time described as being heart-shaped. Indeed, this is evident from the many descriptions
in French inventories dating from the middle of the seventeenth century. The first
recorded heart shape diamond appears in a portrait entitled “The Gonzaga Princess,”
painted circa 1605 by Frans Pourbus the younger. The large piece of jewellery on
the princess’s left sleeve contains a variety of different cuts, some of which are
thought to be versions of the heart-like ‘drops’ popular in France at the time.
The heart shape is also mentioned in a book written in 1655 by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier,
the French merchant-traveller who found his fortune in the precious stone trade
and famously 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, in India.