Brimming with rarity, there are a myriad of types of Old Cut Diamonds. The best known and most common within vintage and antique jewellery are Rose Cut Diamonds, Old European Cut Diamonds and Old Mine Cut Diamonds. Unlike contemporary Diamonds, antique Old Cut Diamonds are often individually hand cut, meaning that each one is unique. The end result is beautiful sparkling Diamonds that reflect and refract the light in different ways, creating a more romantic look.
Unless you are buying an antique engagement ring or antique Diamond pendant, it is quite difficult to source contemporary Old Cut Diamonds, due to the industry preference for contemporary cuts. However, fellow treasure hunters and jewellery connoisseurs know that Old Cut Diamonds are special creatures, and there has been a recent revival in vintage and antique style jewellery. So perhaps we are more likely to find these cuts of Diamonds in pendants and rings very soon! Below, we detail the Diamond cuts you are most likely to find in antique jewellery.
The Different Types of Old Cut Diamond
What is a Rose Cut Diamond?
Designed to mimic the shape of a rose bud, a Rose Cut Diamond is one of the fairest Diamond cuts of them all! In fact, they are one of the most historic Diamond cuts, dating back to the early 16th century, making them the Diamond cut of choice all the way up to the mid Victorian era. Some of the best examples of Rose Cut Diamonds can be found in Georgian Diamond rings, simply because they are natural and they are just oozing with old world charm and enchantment.
For those who want an unusual Diamond ring, a Rose Cut Diamond ring is the perfect option. Due to the way they are cut, Rose Cut Diamond rings often have inclusions, have flatter bottoms and aren’t as “sparkly” as the classic Round Brilliant Cut that we often associate with Diamonds. But don’t let this fool you into thinking that Rose Cut Diamonds should be abandoned altogether - quite the contrary in fact! Antique Diamond lovers and jewellery enthusiasts love a Rose Cut, because they are just so unusual indeed - in fact, Lily Collin’s engagement ring was a large bezel set Rose Cut Diamond, and it is believed that Rose Cut Diamonds are symbolic of a lifelong marriage. For a Diamond to be officially a “Rose Cut Diamond” it can have anything from 3 to 24 facets.
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What is an Old European Cut Diamond?
If Round Brilliants are more your style, but you are still intrigued by an Old Cut Diamond, then an Old European Cut Diamond is the perfect balance between the two. Old European Cut Diamond rings came into fashion in the Edwardian to Art Deco period as lapidiary techniques advanced. These Diamonds were cut to retain more carat weight of the Diamond, rather than optimise the appearance.
What is the difference between an Old European Cut Diamond and Round Brilliant Diamond?
Unlike Round Brilliants, Old European Cut Diamonds have a slightly higher table, but they still retain a rounded shape. Old European Cut Diamonds (or OEC for short) can also be differentiated from Round Brilliant Diamonds as they have more “fire” to them. Essentially, Round Brilliants are cut to keep sparkle in mind, with signature black and white scintillation across the surface, as it returns more white light. Old European Cuts, on the other hand, have more multicoloured “rainbow” sparkles, with a pattern of light that is more chunky than its round brilliant descendants.
But like their similar shape, there is also another key similarity. Old European Cut Diamonds and Round Brilliant Diamonds share the same facet number: 58.
The best examples of larger Old European Cut Diamond carats are found in Edwardian fine jewellery and Art Deco jewellery. Of course, if you are looking for an Edwardian engagement ring or Art Deco Diamond ring then you are likely to find old European Cut Diamonds securely nestled within bezel settings or openwork claws.
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What Is An Old Mine Cut Diamond?
If you have your eye on a Victorian Diamond ring, it's likely that you are looking at an Old Mine Cut Diamond ring. Old Mine Cut Diamonds have a signature stunning appearance that makes them more sought after by antique collectors and jewellery lovers alike. The beauty of an Old Mine Cut Diamond is that they were cut and polished by hand, so no two facets are exactly the same. What you lose in asymmetry, you gain a special one of a kind unique Diamond - the type of Diamond ring that will attract all the right kinds of attention. Typically, Old Mine Cut Diamonds have a square shape with soft slightly rounded edges. With this in mind, they don’t look too dissimilar to the contemporary cushion cut Diamond.
Why is it called an Old Mine Cut Diamond? Whilst there isn’t any discernible evidence to suggest why Old Mine Cut Diamonds have attained their signature name, it is believed that the origin comes from rough cut earth-mined Diamonds that would easily be found in Victorian and Georgian Diamond rings and pendants. In the 18th and 19th century, Diamonds were sourced from India and Brazil, with the former being known to produce larger carats and Diamonds of exceptional quality. In the 1860s Diamonds were discovered in South Africa, in keeping with the colonial expansion of the west.
What is the difference between an Old Mine Cut Diamond and Cushion Cut Diamond?
Despite their initial similarity in look, Old Mine Cut Diamonds and Cushion Cut Diamonds do have some key differences. Old Mine Cut Diamonds have a smaller, but higher, table than Cushion Cut Diamonds, a large culet, a deeper pavilion and shorter facets on the lower half of the gem. Of course, Old Mine Cut Diamonds are often hand cut too, meaning that in comparison to a Cushion Cut Diamond they have a “chubbier” appearance, giving them plenty of character.
Cushion Cut Diamonds, like Round Brilliants are fashioned to have that “black and white” sparkle that we spoke of earlier. On the other hand, Old Mine Cut Diamonds aren’t cut with this in mind. Originating in the 1750s, these Diamonds didn’t have the glaring artificial lights that we have in our homes. Rather they were designed to maximise their sparkle against natural light and candlelight - how romantic!
Old Mine Cut Diamonds vs Old European Cut Diamonds
Despite their visual differences, Old Mine Cut Diamonds and Old European Cut Diamonds do have more in common than you would think! An old mine cut Diamond has 58 facets, just like an Old European Diamond, and an Old European Cut was actually an evolution from the Old Mine Cut Diamond. What’s more, they also share a similar glow – both Diamonds are cut with fire, rather than brilliance and they share this elegant yet distinctive look.
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Other Antique Diamond Styles
Whilst Old Mine Cut, Old European Cut and Rose Cut Diamonds are the most well-known and popular of the antique Diamond cuts, there are a few esoteric antique Diamond cuts that you might also be familiar with.
French Cut Diamond
French Cut Diamonds are one of the oldest styles of Diamonds, dating as far back as the 14th century. French Cut Diamonds actually progressed from Table Cut Diamonds, which anointed the rings of royalty and liturgy across Europe. The French cut added more facets to the top of the Diamond bolstering its shape and its sparkle. The attractive refraction of light quickly made the French Cut Diamond the must-have Diamond shape across the French royal court.
Mazarin Cut Diamond
Another revered and famous Diamond, the Mazarin Cut is an Old Cut Diamond with 17 facets on its crown. Otherwise known as the Double Cut Brilliant, the Mazarin Cut Diamond is just as fancy as its name suggests. It is believed that the mazarin cut was named after Cardinal Mazarin (1601-1661), a man who lived and breathed his extensive Diamond collection. The evolution of this beautiful and chic Diamond cut eventually birthed the Triple Cut and Peruzzi Brilliant Cut.
Table Cut Diamonds
Potentially the oldest style of Old Cut Diamond, Table Cut Diamonds were worn as early as the 13th century. As Diamonds are one of the hardest substances on earth, the technology did not exist to cut and craft these gems into the beautiful creations that we know them to be today. However, the jewellers and Diamond cutters of the 1200s soon learnt a valuable lesson in Diamond cutting. The crystalline structure of Diamonds means that some planes of the Diamond are weaker than others, allowing them to be cut and polished, giving the stones a flattened table facet, the largest of a Diamond and its face when viewed from above. This discovery was likely to have originated in trade routes between India and Europe. Historians think that perhaps this occurred in Venice or the Middle East. By the 15th century, the rotary Diamond wheel, a major invention in the history of Diamond was developed and allowed jewellers to generate more complex faceted gems. It was common practise in history to “re-cut” Diamonds in their lifetime, making Table Cut Diamonds all the more rarer to discover and procure today.