Here’s How to Avoid Diamond Bow Ties (and Exactly Why You Should)
Of the four C’s of a diamond, which is the most important? Sparkle. Sure, technically, sparkle isn’t one of those four vaunted characteristics — cut, color, clarity and carat — but it’s what they’re all working toward. Let’s be honest: Sparkle is a diamond’s true appeal. So anything that obstructs or reduces that sparkle is something you want to avoid or minimize. And one of the biggest enemies of sparkle are things called diamond bow ties.
It might sound glam, but it’s anything but. Most people know about inclusions — tiny natural flaws that are created as a diamond forms — but you might not be aware of diamond bow ties. Here’s what they’re all about, and how to avoid them when shopping for loose diamonds.
What are diamond bow ties?
A diamond bow tie is an imperfection formed when a diamond is cut. Just as a diamond’s sparkle is created by light reflecting and refracting from its facets, a diamond bow tie — which looks exactly like it sounds: a black shape that resembles a man’s bow tie — can appear on the face of a diamond when the facets don’t reflect light properly, no matter how the diamond is turned.
The cutting of diamond facets is a highly precise process, and the cutter has to take into account the numerous angles from which a diamond might be viewed. If some facets can’t take light in, no light goes out. That can create the dark bow-tie effect.
There are different grades of diamond bow ties, ranging from slight to severe. A bow tie can be barely perceptible in certain light, or it could be quite obvious from a number of angles.
What cuts are affected by diamond bow ties?
Not all diamond shapes are affected. Diamond bow ties are most common in fancy cut diamonds, including oval, marquise and pear shapes.
How to shop for a diamond and avoid the bow tie
The presence of a bow tie isn’t listed on a diamond’s report. Decide how much of a bow-tie effect you’re willing to accept, then inspect the diamond yourself or ask to see videos of it. At With Clarity, you can always request a video of a diamond if you don’t see one on our site. And as always, our on-staff gemologists are available and happy to work with you individually — to find the perfect diamond and balance of the four C’s that works with your budget, and to advise and assist you with any concerns you may have about inclusions or diamond bow ties.
Can you avoid the bow tie effect completely?
It’s important to know that a diamond bow tie isn’t necessarily a flaw or an instant dealbreaker — many fancy cuts will display some evidence of a bow tie because of their complex faceting. The best thing to do is inspect the diamond yourself to ensure you’re happy with it. It’s all about your personal taste!