Antique old european cut diamonds are causing quite a stir..some modern day cutters are even begining to cut diamonds in this way to keep up with the demand. But what really makes an Old Mine Cut or Old european cut diamond so special? What is it about them that makes us love them so?
Perhaps it is because this diamond cutting style was approached in such a way that the proportions of the stone were worked out according to light falling directly down on to the stone thru the crown( the upper most facet/top) of the diamond. The light then entering the top of the diamond would hit the culet (bottom most facet ) and pop up out of the stone in a shower of rainbow colors...much like the prismatic chandelier crystals that were so popular back in the 1800's -1900's sending rainbows around a grand ballroom...lovely! These old cut diamonds often look their best by candle light, they have then the soft romantic glow for which they are known.
Another charming aspect of this cutting style is the novelty of a by gone time..from candle light to gas lights...horse drawn broughams, and ladies whom when engaged or newly married had their hands "done" in marble by a european artist while on their Grand tour during engagement. Ladies were often painted ,or photographed in all their finery including a lovely ring...You might possibly find "the ring" or diamond that was immortalized in stone or oil painting or a wedding tintype(early photo)..interesting stuff. Many of these old diamonds were handed down in families for generations and were often re-set by the new bride and sometimes recut as well to be less old fashioned (interesting now we all want the old styles and they were trying to reflect the new!).
Some of the diamonds we see now may well have had many owners and set in many ways..some times an antique diamond may have been a part of some "Important" Necklace or Tiara. you can bet that the antique cut diamonds you see may well have been someone's cherished wedding ring and it has witnessed so much life! Can you imagine the stories they might tell?...we most often never know..but that is part of their charm. And a modern cut antique style just can't give us that!
Some other things to keep in mind about antique cut diamonds such as the Old European Cut or it's earlier cousin the Old Mine Cut:(a rounded to square cushion cut):
Prior to 1900 all Diamonds were cut by hand and this practice went on into the early 1900's. By todays standards some of the antique cut diamonds look a bit "off" but in their time because it was all done by hand there was no skimping on cutting...cutters strove then as they do now to bring each diamond to life with well throughout and planned facets. These old style cuts will measure in mm across less than a modern day cut round brilliant because so much more of the stone is in the ht. and depth. With it's small and relatively high table and deep pavilion these old cuts look sometimes like a faceted ball of diamond particularly the early old mine cut diamonds which are offer quite heavy on the top...
Prior to the Mid 1800's Diamonds were primarily for Royalty , Upper level Clergy, The Very Rich Merchant Classes and Titled privileged few. It was during Late Victorian times and Edwardian times that the European's made diamonds popular and attainable for anyone that could afford them due to the discovery of large diamond mines in the AFRICAN Cape. On color one should keep in mind that these old cut diamonds were rarely recovered from the mines in colorless D/F/E. CAPE DIAMONDS were most commonly lightly tinted due to their nitrogen content(yellowish). So you will often find them from near colorless G/H/I/J to the more tinted K/L/M /N/O/P color. It is important to note that these old Cape diamonds were often extremely pure ( super eyeclean) and VS and VVS was quite often their clarity!
Here are some examples of diamond jewelry which was available in the shops of 1910...
(Pictures from the Walter Griffith diamond mounters and manufacturing EST 1850 Birmingham,England 1910 catalog)
So, in recap although often tinted "Cape diamonds" many had great clarity. "Tint" in a diamond was not considered so much of a deterrent to its purchase or its beauty in the 1800's as it is now in modern times...As an added note the Old Mine cut diamonds and the Old European Cut diamonds by the very way that they are cut they are quite famous for masking their true color ...so, a K color antique cut diamond may indeed face up more like a J than a K color round brilliant...
In terms of size a 1ct. modern day round brilliant may be about 6.5mm in diameter and a 1ct.Old European cut may be more like 5.9-6.0mm in diameter
a 7mm round brilliant is 1.25ct but in an Old European Cut it would be more like a 1.4-1.55ct stone
A 8mm round brilliant is 2ct but an 8mm Old European Cut might be 2.3-2.5cts!
Note that the OLD MINE CUT Diamonds will appear even smaller than the Old European Cut Diamonds in diameter comparison of equal Ct. wt. due to the Old Mine Cut being a square with rounded corners (most of the diamond is above and below the girdle in the ht. and depth)This is much like an Asscher Cut and a Princess Cut of 1ct may only have a diameter of 5.5mm but a Round Brilliant 1ct would be more like 6.5mm.
Old cut diamonds often have very thin girdles (the edge around the diamond where the top and the bottom of the stone meets) this means that quite commonly your antique diamond may have some chips it is uncommon for them not to have any fine chips (sometimes these have been polished away or are hidden beneath a prong)..this is not considered something terrible in an antique diamond..these are just part of the diamonds history and small chipping should not be a danger to your stones integrity. Just make sure the chips are not leading to major cracks of course. you may see nothing at all or just a small feather.
So, take another look at some of these wonderful often times off round and tinted VS and VVS Antique diamonds and see if one might just sweep you off you feet! They have a special elegant sparkle which has moved light within them from a bygone era...Choose a true antique cut if you love this about them.
It is important NOT to judge a true antique cut diamond by modern day standards this is just not fair.... they are in a class of their own and rightly so.
You should choose an modern day reproduction cut if you just cant't live without a perfectly round and D colorless diamond as this is extremely rare and costly in a true antique diamond and command in the high tens of thousands after being searched for for many many months.
I hope you found this helpful. Best of luck in finding your own special heirloom!
More Antique Diamond tid bits:
ROSE CUT DIAMONDS were of the first faceted diamond cutting styles and began in the 1500's and continued thru till the 1900's. This cutting style has a flat bottom and all of it's facets are on the top of the diamond the facet number may be from 3 to 24. The top of the diamond is dome shaped and it's facets come to the center forming a point. The facets are planned to give the diamond the appearance of the opening of a rose bud..Hence the name "Rose Cut".
Short time line for round cut diamonds:
ROSE CUT (1500's-1900's)> OLD MINE CUT (Mid 1800's thru 1890's)>OLD EUROPEAN CUT (1890's-1930's)>TRANSITIONAL CUT(1930's thru 1950's) >MODERN BRILLIANT
What is a SINGLE CUT DIAMOND and does it have facets? Funny name but the SINGLE CUT DIAMOND does have facets...it has an OCTAGONAL girdle and 8 crown or bezeled facets, 8 pavillon facets and it may or may or may not have a culet. This diamond type is usually small and are used for accent diamonds or in eternity rings.
MINE CUT DIAMONDS> Although some people think they were cut down in the mines by kerosene lamps does that really make any sense? Why would anyone cutting a super expensive gem want to do that in the dark dim light when you could climb out of a mine and do so in DAYLIGHT! When cutting a diamond using good light sources was as important then as it is now.