Diamonds are complicated stones to evaluate – especially if it’s your first time shopping for one. So many of their characteristics are invisible to the naked eye – or are challenging to judge and classify.
And that leads to a lot of customers unknowingly purchasing sub-par diamonds. However, one of the more easily visible defects a diamond can possess is the diamond bow-tie effect.
This defect happens when there’s a shadow within the middle portion of the gemstone – and it resembles a bow tie. It’s caused by poor cutting, which restricts the light reflecting in the middle of the gem.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the diamond bow-tie effect, what to look for – and some info about the diamond’s cut. That way, you can better understand some of the diamond’s characteristics before you make the purchase.
What Is The Bow-Tie Effect?
A bow tie appears exactly what it sounds like – a bow tie. It comprises a black “stripe” that runs across the diamond’s surface. When looked at a particular angle, the black stripe will be easily noticeable, reducing the stone’s beauty.
Some people wrongly think that:
- The bow tie is created due to certain substances trapped within the stone
- It occurs when there’s a particular inclusion pattern within the diamond
- It has to do with the leaking of light through the diamond’s sides, which is one of the common issues in diamonds
The bow tie has very little to do with the factors listed above; instead, the bow tie results from a poor cut. Diamonds that feature bow ties have an area in the middle where light isn’t being appropriately reflected because of the poor cut quality.
The bow-tie effect is only noticeable from certain angles, though. The bow tie is often visible due to the viewer’s shadow reflected within the stone. In essence, the bow tie is indeed a shadow inside the diamond, leading to that part of the gem appearing darker.
That shouldn’t happen in general since diamonds are cut to always reflect light and don’t have such shadows within them. However, if the cut of the diamond isn’t perfect, the stone can end up with a bow tie.
Which Diamond Shapes Have Bow-Tie Effect?
The bow tie is common in elongated fancy diamond cuts – such as marquise, pear, and oval. Some square shapes, such as the radiant cut, can also exhibit bow ties. Other diamond shapes like the round brilliant, cushion, princess, and emerald, don’t have bow ties.
That is because it’s challenging to avoid bow ties while cutting in elongated stone shapes. Their middle area is too long, and it can be pretty hard to cut the facets in that section to reflect light correctly.
However, not all elongated diamond shapes show bow ties.
It’s easy to think that diamond cutters should just not cut bow ties in their stones – but diamond cutting is complex work and even the best cutters in the world aren’t exempt from making any mistakes.
You see, several factors can lead to a diamond having a bow tie:
- A mistake – The diamond cutter may have cut the stone poorly with misaligned facets.
- To save the rough – The diamond cutter may feel forced to cut the stone in a way since the alternative is to cut too much of the rough and reduce the diamond’s carat weight excessively.
Ultimately, while every diamond cutter wants to create the most beautiful diamonds possible, the diamond industry is a for-profit one. And the bigger the diamond is, the better – in most cases.
- Avoiding inclusions – The diamond cutter may have had to cut the gem in a specific way to prevent inclusions. Diamond bow ties are unattractive, especially when they’re pronounced. However, they can sometimes be the lesser of the two evils.
Is Bow Tie Effect Always A Bad Thing?
Almost all oval, pear, and marquise-shaped diamonds have some extent of bow-tie effect – but what differentiates them is the seriousness of the effect. Most bow ties are often seamless and not as obvious.
As a matter of fact, particular bow ties are even viewed as a positive thing: If the bow tie isn’t too pronounced and if the diamond cutter shaped the diamond well around the bow tie, it could even add a degree of sparkle and scintillation.
Marquise, pear, and oval diamonds with no bow-tie effect can sometimes look lifeless and dull. Another thing to remember with the bow-tie effect is that dishonest diamond vendors will try to twist this and claim that the bow-tie effect is always a good thing.
It’s relatively common for many retailers to advertise that the bow-tie effect is unavoidable in elongated fancy diamond shapes – and that they, in fact, enhance the diamond’s appearance.
That’s not necessarily the case, though.
The lighter bow-tie effect can have a specific positive impact on the gemstone’s appearance, but overall, it’s considered a negative factor on the diamond’s appearance. So if you can avoid it, be sure to do so.
Related Read: How to Avoid Bow Tie Oval Diamonds? Let’s Find Out!
Things To Keep In Mind
Even in physical jewelry stores, it may be challenging to spot a bow-tie effect due to the lighting in the store. It’s always good to inspect the stone from all angles and under various light sources – daylight included.
If purchasing a diamond online, be sure that you can see a 360-degree video of the gemstone and magnify the stone’s images. On that note, when shopping for a diamond, it’s crucial to:
- Check what you’re getting before making your purchase. That is way easier in physical jewelry stores. Still, reputable online diamond vendors like James Allen offer HD 3D videos of all their diamonds, allowing you to view the stone up close and in more detail than in a physical store.
- Only purchase diamonds from reputable vendors. Whether buying online or in a physical store, you should always ensure that you’re getting your gemstones from adequate – and trustworthy – stores.
- Ensure the shop has solid return policies in place. If you notice an issue – such as the bow-tie effect – you can then just return the gem for a replacement or a refund later on.
The Importance Of Diamond Cut
The difference between a well-cut stone and a poorly-cut one is tremendous. To come away with a gorgeous, brilliant gemstone, the quality of the diamond’s cut has to be a number one priority.
What Is A Diamond Cut?
Diamond cut refers to how well a stone is cut and polished as well as how well proportioned the diamond is, mainly referring to its symmetry and depth. And despite this being a common misconception, the diamond cut doesn’t refer to the diamond’s shape, such as pear or oval shape.
Cut quality affects the stone’s beauty, brilliance, and overall appearance. A well-cut gemstone is luminous and reflects light back to the viewer’s eyes. On the other hand, a poorly cut gemstone appears dull and lifeless instead of brilliant.
Differences in diamond cut heavily impact aesthetic appeal and the diamond’s value – and is the most critical of the 4Cs.
What Are Diamond Cut Grades?
The most commonly used grading system for the diamond cut is one issued by the GIA, with grades ranging from Poor to Excellent. Diamond cut grade is determined by several factors – including polish, symmetry, brilliance, and fire.
Diamond-Cut Grade Chart
Professional gemologists review each diamond under magnification to determine the stone’s cut grade. Below are the GIA cut ratings:
- Excellent – Excellent cut gemstones provide the highest level of fire and brilliance. Since nearly all of the entering light is reflected through the diamond’s table, the gem radiates with stunning sparkle.
- Very Good – Very good cut diamonds provide exceptional fire and brilliance. A large amount of the entering light is reflected through the gemstone’s table. These diamonds offer similar sparkle to diamonds of Excellent grade.
- Good – Good cut gems offer sparkle and brilliance with a decent amount of reflected light. These stones provide beauty at a bit lower price tags.
- Fair – Fair-cut diamonds showcase slight brilliance since light exits quickly through the bottom of the diamond. These diamonds may be a good choice for smaller carats and ones acting as side stones.
- Poor – Poor cut diamonds show almost no sparkle, fire, or brilliance. The entering light easily escapes from the bottom and sides of the diamond.
Factors That Impact A Diamond’s Cut
The most critical factor in a diamond’s value is its cut quality. Many elements play a role in the cut quality, including proportions, facets, and the ability to reflect light. The better these aspects are as a whole, the better the quality of the gemstone – and in return, the higher the price tag is.
- Proportions – depth, width, table
- Symmetrical facets – the mirrors, steps, and windows of a diamond
- Brilliance – the brightness of the light reflection
- Scintillation – flashes of sparkle when the stone or the light moves
- Finishing details – polishing and permanent treatment
Prices For Different Diamond Cuts
As with all factors that determine the quality of a diamond, the price can rise and fall quite a bit depending on your choice of cut grade. Diamond cut prices are based on the quality and precision of the cut – primarily symmetry and proportions. When proportions are as exact as they can be, you’ll pay a higher price for a stone.
For example, if the facets are proportional, they can refract and reflect light back to the viewer’s eyes in tremendous fashion. But diamonds that aren’t as precisely cut possess facets that don’t refract and reflect light as magnificently.
The amount of light return in an exceptionally well-cut diamond is always worth the extra price. A gemstone is less than sparkly without fire and brilliance – no matter the carat weight.
In other words, the cut of a stone is the quality that most substantially affects its beauty. That’s why the higher prices for the diamond cut are worth every penny – it’s better to spend more on the diamond cut than on clarity or color.
Related Read: Price List: How Much Is A 0.1 To 40 Carat Diamond Worth?
The Difference Between Diamond Cut And Diamond Shape
Even though many people think these two terms are the same, diamond cut and diamond shape have very different meanings.
The diamond shape defines the outline or figure of the gemstone. For instance, round brilliant, and pear-shaped refers to the shape appearance of the gem.
On the other hand, the cut describes the stone’s facets, dimensions, symmetry, and reflective qualities. For example, a heart-shaped diamond may be cut too deep, shallow, dull, or brilliant. The heart shape remains – while the quality of the cut differs significantly.
The finer the cut of a stone, the greater the fire and brilliance of that stone are.
When buying a diamond shape that could be prone to the diamond bow-tie effect, always be sure that you inspect the diamond carefully and have high-quality imagery of the gemstone. That will aid you in making an informed decision about the diamond’s physical and aesthetic properties.
For these reasons, we recommend looking up trustworthy and reliable online jewelry stores that have the best diamond display technology.
While bow-tie won’t be a significant issue in most cases, if it’s the first thing you notice when you look at a diamond, then it’s best to avoid that gem and look for another. Your diamond could include a bow tie, but if it grabs your attention more than the stone itself, it undermines the reason for having a diamond in the first place.
Remember that the diamond’s cut quality is the most crucial factor to consider when purchasing a diamond, and ensure that your stone has the best possible diamond cut grade.