Hearts have long been a symbol of love and, thousands of years ago, it was believed that hearts were the centre of all human emotion. However, before the 13th century, the shape was drawn usually for decorative purposes and the idea of romantic love didn’t become attached to it in the medieval age.
It was in the 14th century that the scalloped shape of the heart made its appearance. By the 15th century, hearts had become a symbol of ‘courtly love’, the rules about love that dictated romantic behaviour. This then filtered down into literature, art and poetry.
More recently, heart shaped diamonds have become a popular cut used for precious stones in jewellery. As a gemstone shape, the heart cut diamond is unique in that it is cut with 59 facets, each reflecting the light in the diamond equally.
Heart shaped diamond history
Historians have traced the earliest mention of the heart cut gemstone back to the mid 1400’s, where it is casually mentioned in a letter from the Duke of Milan Galeazzo Maria Sforza: “He commands a Titus Livy just as you might a heart-shaped diamond”.
It is believed that the stone shape had been pioneered by Lodewyk and Berquem, who created new techniques in diamond cutting. They invented the diamond polishing wheel and discovered that diamonds can be cut by their own dust in 1458. They also introduced the idea of absolute facet symmetry.
By the mid-1500s, the heart shaped diamond had become synonymous with royalty. For Mary Queen of Scots, the jewel was a symbol of friendship and goodwill, and in 1562 she sent Queen Elizabeth a heart shaped diamond ring set in gold.
Cardinal de Richelieu (1585-1642) was also known to own a heart shaped diamond weighing 20 carats. It was originally willed to the king by Alphonse Lopez who was a diamond merchant who settled in Paris in 1610.
How to choose a heart shaped diamond
If you want to present a heart shaped engagement or anniversary ring to someone and you are wondering about how to choose the right one, we’ve got some advice for you.
The most important thing is to consider the quality of the curved cut and finish as these determine the sparkle.
This heart cut diamond has also been known, whether for good or bad, as being susceptible to the bow tie effect. A diamond bow-tie is a shadow in the shape of a bow-tie that runs along the width of a diamond, usually in the centre.
Pay attention to the light in the diamond and decide whether this is something you want in your diamond. A slight bow-tie effect is sometime the marker of a good cut and the contrast it provides enhances the diamond’s aesthetics.
Be sure to choose a symmetrical stone so that it is easy to differentiate between a pear-shaped stone and a heart-shaped stone.
The smaller the size of the diamond, the more difficult it is to create the heart shape – so it’s often wise to choose a diamond that is over 0.5 carats – make sure you choose the right size to show off the cut.
And finally, choose the setting for the stone wisely to maximise the brilliance and prominence of the diamond in the ring.