Complete Guide to Diamond Bow Tie Effect

December 23, 2021 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog

If you’re in the market for a diamond, you’ve probably heard of the four Cs: cut, clarity, color, and carat. These four elements work together to maximize a diamond’s sparkle. 

One factor that could affect the sparkle is the bow tie effect. This article will offer a detailed explanation of what a bow tie effect is and whether you should buy a diamond that features it. 

What Is the Diamond Bow Tie Effect? 

Diamond Bow Tie Effect in Pear Shape 1 Carat

A bow tie effect is an imperfection in a diamond that appears due to cutting. As you may know, a diamond’s sparkle is enhanced by proper cutting and light reflection. When a diamond’s facets aren’t reflecting the light properly, you’ll notice a dark bow tie shape in the middle of the stone. 

This shape can be noticed as you turn the diamond and compromise the stone’s overall appearance. 

The bow tie effect isn’t a result of light leakage, inclusion, or specific coloring inside the diamond. The cause is simply the improper light reflection due to the cut. Essentially, the bow tie effect is a shadow inside a diamond. 

There are many degrees of the bow tie effect, ranging from faint to intense. Depending on the cut, the bow tie can appear completely black, which will severely jeopardize the diamond’s appearance. 

The intensity of the bow tie effect changes depending on how you look at the diamond. If your head or body blocks the interaction of light with the stone, you’ll create dark shadows that affect the diamond’s brilliance. When you move the diamond around, you’ll notice the shadow becomes lighter. 

The Mathematics Behind the Bow Tie Effect 

Bowtie on Marquise Cut Diamond

At this point, the bow tie effect may sound like a problem with an easy solution: The diamond cutter should try to minimize or avoid it altogether. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. 

The cutters need to think about every facet and accurately predict the angle of light. If there’s even the slightest discrepancy and the facets aren’t perfectly aligned, the bow tie will appear. 

Even the most experienced and skillful cutters won’t be able to avoid this notorious effect all the time. Namely, when a diamond is cut, each facet is created under a certain angle that takes in the light as much as possible. The reflective effect of the light results in the beautiful sparkle and brilliance we all love. 

But in some cases, the bow tie effect is unavoidable. For example, a cutter may conclude that eliminating this effect would significantly impact the diamond’s carat weight. Although every cutter’s goal is to craft beautiful stones with as much brilliance as possible, the diamond industry still revolves around profit. Avoiding a slight bow tie effect while significantly reducing the carat weight doesn’t happen often. 

Moreover, a cutter may have created the bow tie on purpose to prevent displaying bigger inclusions. In this case, the cutter has to choose the lesser of two evils. 

When it comes to the bow tie effect, the cutter’s expertise, skill, and experience have the most significant role. Every cutter can predict whether it’s possible to avoid the bow tie effect based on the diamond’s structure. If there’s no way to work around it, a skillful cutter should be able to estimate the effect’s intensity and consider the best possible solution. 

Which Diamond Cuts Have a Bow Tie? 

Tray of Diamond Engagement Rings in Showroom

Not all diamond cuts are affected by the bow tie effect. Brilliant cuts such as square, round, and cushion don’t feature this effect. These cuts have perfect proportions and the facets distribute the light evenly. 

The bow tie effect typically occurs in elongated fancy cuts: pear, oval, marquise, and sometimes heart cuts. These cuts have long middle sections, and it’s difficult to cut around them without compromising the light reflection. 

Sometimes, the bow tie effect is present in radiant-cut diamonds as well. 

Pros and Cons of Diamond Bow Tie 

The diamond bow tie effect is a consequence of an imperfect cut. But is it always a bad thing? Let’s review the pros and cons of this phenomenon. 

Pros of the Bow Tie in Diamonds

Although generally considered a bad element, a diamond bow tie can have several positive aspects. 

  • Makes the Diamond Unique 
  • Every diamond is unique and beautiful. Although the bow tie effect is man-made and many consider it a disadvantage, in some cases, it can make the diamond even more eye-appealing.
  • Diamonds with no bow tie are stunning but can often look dull. Plus, if a diamond doesn’t feature the bow tie effect, it could’ve been cut too shallowly, affecting its sparkle. 
  • The bow tie gives diamonds a unique spin and highlights their shape. 
  • Enhances the Sparkle 

As mentioned, the bow tie effect can’t be avoided in some cases. But a skillful cutter will know how to turn this imperfection into an advantage. By carefully cutting around the diamond’s middle section and setting the facets under right angles, the cutter can use the bow tie effect to increase the brilliance. 

With the right contrast between the facets that reflect light and darker areas, a diamond can appear even shinier. 

Many People Like It 

It’s a fact that the bow tie effect is an imperfection. However, this doesn’t mean it’s a dealbreaker. Many people prefer a bow tie for different reasons. Some enjoy the beautiful reflections, while others love the unique contrast. 

Keep in mind that a diamond could be perfect according to the grading reports and still have a bow tie. People who prioritize excellent grades won’t give up on a diamond just because it has a slight bow tie effect. 

Cons of the Bow Tie in Diamonds

Let’s look at the negative aspects of the bow tie effect. 

  • Secludes a Large Part of a Diamond. 
  • We can say the intensity of the bow tie effect plays a key role in determining whether this phenomenon is an advantage or a flaw. While a slight bow tie can increase the diamond’s beauty, a severe bow tie will make it less attractive. A prominent, dark line across the stone’s middle section will definitely impact the stone’s appearance. 
  • The bow tie effect could be completely distracting and make a diamond with excellent characteristics less attractive. 
  • It’s Not in the Grading Reports
  • It Can Affect the Diamond’s Value 

Every diamond should have a GIA grading report that proves the stone’s quality and features. The problem with the bow tie effect is that it’s never mentioned in the reports. Moreover, there is no official scale used for assessing the intensity of this effect. 

Since there’s no mention of the bow tie effect in the grading reports, how it affects the diamond’s price has yet to be determined. However, diamonds with a strong bow tie will often be worth less as they don’t reflect the light properly. 

Since sparkle is one of the essential characteristics of every diamond, the lack of it will affect the price, even though the bow tie isn’t in the reports. 

Expert Tips to Avoid Buying a Diamond Bow Tie 

A diamond bow tie is a tricky feature. If you want to buy a diamond with no or only a slight bow tie, we’ve prepared several tips to help you with your purchase: 

Choose a Trusted Seller 

Shopping for a diamond engagement ring from Estate Diamond Jewelry

The first and crucial thing you need to do is find a reputable, experienced seller. You can look online for positive reviews from past customers. If you know someone who’s recently purchased a diamond, ask them for recommendations regarding the seller. 

Many sellers will try to convince you that a bow tie is always a good characteristic or that it’s unavoidable in certain diamond cuts. However, this isn’t true. While lighter bow ties can certainly complement the stone, they aren’t always an advantage. Any seller who makes such claims might be trying to trick you into making a purchase and shouldn’t be trusted. 

Purchasing a diamond isn’t something we do every day, so take your time when choosing a seller. Once you’ve found a reliable one, feel free to ask questions regarding the diamond(s) you like. Ask the seller about the origin, characteristics, ethical background, or anything else that might be of interest. If a seller doesn’t want to provide answers or withholds information from you, consider this a red flag and find a different one. 

Look at the Diamond From Every Angle 

Examining an engagement ring with a loupe

The bow tie may not be visible until you look at the diamond from every angle. Almost every diamond showcase features lighting that emphasizes its beauty and sparkle. However, this lighting often “hides” the diamond’s appearance and can mask the bow tie or decrease its intensity. 

If you’re buying the diamond in-store, ask the seller to show it to you without the extra lighting. That way, you’ll be able to establish the existence of the bow tie effect and identify the intensity. 

It might be a bit trickier to notice the bow tie effect if you’re buying the diamond online, but it’s not impossible. Most reputable sellers will have videos of diamonds on their website. These videos typically show a diamond outside its showcase, with no extra lighting that might hide the bow tie. By carefully studying these videos, you can determine whether a diamond has any physical imperfections. 

Ensure the videos you’re viewing are high-quality. Otherwise, you may not notice the diamond’s important features and end up with a diamond that looks completely different. 

Many online diamond sellers also feature 360-degree views of diamonds with magnification. This is also a useful tool that can help you see your diamond up close, even if you’re not there physically. 

If the seller you opted for doesn’t have this technology, don’t hesitate to contact them for additional videos and pictures. 

Compare the Diamonds 

Customer With Engagement Ring on Layaway Program from Estate Diamond Jewelry

Reputable sellers are aware that most people aren’t diamond experts. For this reason, the sellers should let you to study the diamond you want carefully and ask for more information about it. 

If you’re buying the diamond in-store, ask the seller to show you other diamonds, even if you’ve already set your heart on one. Then you can compare it to stones with similar characteristics and establish differences. 

If you’re buying online, ask the seller to send you images and videos of similar diamonds. This comparison may confirm your choice, but it can also change your mind. 


Diamond Engagement Ring in Box Held Box Customer

As stated earlier, the bow tie effect isn’t mentioned in official grading reports, and there’s no scale that measures it. Therefore, be careful not to get tricked by sellers, but also decide on your priorities. 

If you’re looking for diamonds with excellent color and carat weight, you may need to compromise and get a stone with a slight bow tie effect. In contrast, you can choose a stone with no bow tie but more inclusions or fewer carats. 

Alternatively, you can try and get the best of both worlds and accept the bow tie as an advantage. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the bow tie or not, don’t forget that every diamond needs to have the right documentation and certification. The lack of certification could indicate the diamond isn’t genuine. 

Look for Sellers With a Return Policy 

Estate Diamond Jewelry Showroom with Afshin and Customer

If you’re buying the diamond for someone else or you’re not 100% sure you’ve chosen the right one, it’s always good to be able to return it. Not all sellers offer this option, so it’s an important aspect to consider before purchasing a diamond. 

At Estate Diamond Jewelry, we have a 14-day return policy. If you don’t like your ring for whatever reason, contact us. We’ll arrange the return, and you’ll receive a full refund, no questions asked. 

Choose the One You Like 

Customer in Estate Diamond Jewelry looking at Vintage Engagement Rings and Wedding Bands

A diamond bow tie doesn’t necessarily have to be a deal-breaking flaw. Don’t walk away from a beautiful diamond just because it has a slight bow tie effect. In the end, everything comes down to your preferences. 

If you want a perfect diamond with no bow tie, it may take you some time to find it – but it’s not impossible. If a diamond with a bow tie has caught your eye, don’t hesitate to ask for more information about it. As you’ve seen, a bow tie can complement the stone and add a special touch to the diamond’s light reflection. 

The diamond you choose should match your personal criteria, regardless of the industry standards and other people’s preferences. 

Talk to a Diamond Expert 

If you have any questions regarding the diamond bow tie effect, we’ll be happy to answer them. Our experts have been in the industry for several decades and can clarify any doubts you may have about this feature. 

Feel free to schedule an appointment in our Showroom or reach us at 212-265-3868 for additional information.