Antique Diamond Cuts: Types, Pros & Cons and Advice

While some may be battling for the most dazzling, jaw-dropping modern cut diamond that radiates pure fire and stops-you-in-your-tracks sparkle…

Some are opting for a more subtle approach.

The antique cut diamond offers a truly unique and vintage look for our jewelry and while they may not be able to match the brilliance and sparkle of a modern cut diamond, they have a lot to offer.🤹🏻‍♂️

The modern diamond cutting machinery was not always available and so a genuine antique diamond would have been cut by hand following the natural shapes and contours of the diamond that match the essence of their eras.

There is some true romance to these pieces that are infused with history, storytelling, and style from a time long gone that captures the hearts of many.❤️

These antique cut diamonds have re-emerged in recent times and have grown in popularity for vintage lovers everywhere. Their warmer, more romantic, and subtle glow is ideal for someone looking for something just a little bit different!

Antique Cut Diamond Ring With Modern Touch

Basics: What are antique diamond cuts?

Let’s get down to basics!

Diamonds were first found in India and because they were thought of as sacred and in possession of mystical properties they were kept as loose, unpolished stones.

The 11th century emerged and diamonds were starting to be worn in jewelry however, they remained uncut and unpolished. This was until initial diamond cutting began in the 14th century.

Enter the antique diamond cut (or at the time, the only kind of diamond cut!)

During this time diamonds were still incredibly rare and only worn by Kings and Queens. Yet, they did not have the sparkle and fire of the diamonds we know today. Antique-cut diamonds today are often desirable precisely because of this but it is certainly a personal preference!

The final cut and aesthetics of the diamond heavily relied upon the mastery and eye of the jewelry cutter. And so antique diamond cuts do not offer the shiny brilliance of a modern cut diamond but instead have a more romantic and subtle vintage appeal.🤴🏻

When comparing antique cut diamonds with modern cuts, we must consider that modern diamonds didn’t come into the limelight until the 1950s. With the new and emerging invention of computer-aided diamond cutting, we were introduced to diamonds as we know them today.

Dazzling, shimmering, and shining bright.

Antique diamond cuts however have a softer appearance and often consist of larger facets. Their subtlety has an air of romance and class that is desirable in and of itself.

NOTE
An antique-cut diamond does not necessarily mean the diamond itself is antique!⚠️

An antique cut diamond may well be a newly mined diamond cut in this antique style to replicate this antique cut look.

If you were specifically searching for a genuine antique diamond then make sure to distinguish between what is a replica of an antique cut diamond versus what is a genuine antique cut diamond when you are seeking guidance.

An antique stone by definition would be one cut before the 1920s however, sometimes antique and vintage are grouped together as old cut stones (diamonds from 1930 and 1940s).

A diamond that is at least 100 years old can often be considered antique!

What are the different types of antique diamond cuts?

We couldn’t possibly talk about the different types of antique cut diamonds without paying homage to the point cut.

The term point cut has actually become debatable because the reality is that there was often no cutting of the diamond involved! Most of the cutting in forming a point cut diamond was simply the removal of excess mineral matter that surrounds the stone during the formation process.

Until the beginning of the 18th century, diamonds could only be sourced from India where the natural points and curves of a diamond were attributed with magical properties.

And so, whilst the point cut diamond is relatively subdued and lacking in brilliance and scintillation—the purpose of this cut was to expose and illuminate the natural shape of the freshly formed diamond.

Antique Diamond Cuts: Single, Old-Mine and Old-European
Fun Fact
Mary of Burgundy became the first to receive a diamond engagement ring. Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave her a ring that was set with a point cut diamond and thin flat pieces of diamonds in the shape of an “M” in 1477.

Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular modern antique cut diamonds!

Modern Antique Cut Diamonds

Single CutSingle cuts are also known as "eight cuts". Consisting of 8 crown facets and 8 pavilion facets. This cut was encountered during the earliest days of diamond cutting and can be regarded as a variation of the table cut. Dating back to the 1300s, the single cut is simplistic and elegant with an octagonal shape.
Rose CutThe rose cut dates back to the early 1500s. Having anywhere between 3 and 24 triangular facets, it is one of the few cuts with a flat bottom and a top that peaks into a dome. The soft curves and romantic feel resemble that of a rose petal which gives the cut its name. This cut was commonly found in the Georgian and Victorian eras.
Old Mine CutThe old mine cut is easily distinguished by its high crown, small table, and large flat culet. It is most comparable with today’s cushion-cut diamond. It consists of 58 facets and was highly prevalent in the Georgian and Victorian eras.
Old European CutThe old European cut is what you might call the predecessor of the modern round brilliant diamond. Created in the 19th century, the 58 facets of this cut are known for its extreme flashes of light and dark which vintage collectors refer to as its ”inner fire“. For vintage lovers, this cut has incredible appeal and was often set in heirloom designs during the Edwardian, Victorian, and Art Nouveau eras.

(And for reference: A table cut diamond is so named for the simple fact that the top is flat, like an ordinary table. Simple! It was the second cut to emerge after the point cut. It is a very simple cut with 4 flat sides which again, gives it its name of the table cut!)

Antique cut diamond jewelry in the modern world

So you might be thinking, what place does antique cut diamond jewelry have in the modern 21st century?

I’m glad you asked.

Since De Beers’ 1947 slogan "A diamond is forever" hit the scene diamond jewelry has become an expression of character. Many of us seek out unique jewelry styles and cuts that showcase our personality and give that extra bit of stand-out pizzazz that makes a person stop and stare in awe!

So let’s take a look at some of these antique cut diamond jewelry in action because honestly, there’s some real buzz surrounding these stunning pieces!

Lily Collins

American-British actress was popped the question in July 2020 and was positively grinning from ear to ear showing off her new rose-cut engagement ring.

Her rose-cut diamond is set in an 18K chunky gold band which offers a touch of the bohemian married with the vintage.

Proof that these antique cut diamonds still have their place!

Mary-Kate Olsen

American actress Mary-Kate Olsen was proposed to in April 2020 with a whopping 4-carat European cut diamond ring!

This antique Cartier ring features this rather impressive center stone surrounded by 16 sapphires, talk about a statement piece!

Christina Applegate

Top-notch American actress Christina Applegate has gone above and beyond with a custom vintage-inspired engagement ring featuring a 0.40-carat old mine cut diamond at the center of it all.

This Edwardian vintage engagement ring is truly one of a kind and oozes character and old-school appeal!

Needless to say, these vintage and antique rings are a stunning option for the person who is looking for something a little bit different, something with a little more character and something a touch more subtle.🎠

They most certainly have their place in the modern world.

Should you buy antique cut diamonds for your jewelry? (Pros & Cons)

Time to break down the list of pros and cons to antique cut diamonds.

As always, there is a huge degree of personal preference when it comes to choosing any kind of jewelry however, the following is certainly worth considering before you buy:

Pros

  • Antique-cut diamonds are perfect for antique and vintage lovers worldwide. Offering a timeless and classic look and appeal that will certainly contrast with your modern jewelry to mix things up a bit!
  • If sustainability is something that you value, then finding a genuine antique diamond ring certainly fits the bill. Instead of buying new, you are repurposing which reduces the impact that mining new diamonds has on the environment
  • The color and tones of antique cut diamonds are often warmer. This may be desirable for those who appreciate the romantic charm of warmer-colored diamonds. Many antique cut diamonds will be graded as a J, K, L, or M on the color chart. Although they don’t have the vibrance or sparkling shine of a higher color grade diamond, this subtlety is often what appeals most to antique cut diamond lovers.
  • They are a less expensive option that is worth considering for budget-conscious buyers. The mining and shaping of new diamonds come with a considerable cost but luckily for us, antique cut diamonds do not have to go through this process (if the diamond is indeed antique)
  • Most European and antique cuts can be purchased with a GIA and AGS certificate. This allows you to verify the quality of the stone with regards to cut, color, clarity and carat weight.

Cons

  • They can be harder to find. Unlike most modern diamond cut jewelry, the antique cut diamond is unlikely going to fill the window of your local jewelry store. It is often the case that vintage cuts are found in high-end stores that specialize in antique diamonds.
  • Less sparkle and brilliance! If you are a lover of the bright and shimmering flashes of light that exude from a modern cut diamond then antique cut may not be for you. The antique cut diamonds were hand-cut and often cut for color rather than maximizing the brilliance. Because of this, the antique cut diamonds have a far more subtle appeal which may not be desirable if you prefer a bit of bling!
A pro and a con?!
Something worth considering is the fact that genuine antique diamond jewelry may often have a less than durable setting. While the diamond stone is strong and robust and able to withstand the tests of time, the metal settings are often subject to wear and damage.

Now, this could be a pro or a con!⚖️

On the downside, you must be aware of this when buying an antique diamond piece of jewelry. The setting may require more maintenance and more care. After all, it could potentially be hundreds of years old!

On the upside, it could be a perfect opportunity to take the antique cut diamond, remove it from the setting and recreate a brand new setting that has your own unique twist and flair. An opportunity to meet the old with the new by designing yourself a piece according to your personal preferences with a historical stone at the heart of it all.

Adding a modern touch to antique cut diamonds

Now that we have seen that there is in fact still a huge demand for antique cut diamond jewelry, let’s talk about how we can merge these antique cut diamonds with modern settings and styles.

To a certain degree, the antique cut diamonds have been experiencing a renaissance and one of the many reasons for this is because of how well the antique and modern elements combine.

When looking for a truly unique piece of jewelry that expresses your character and personality, you can use both vintage and modern elements to create a statement piece that is 100% YOU!

Let’s take a look at a few examples…

A European cut diamond in a modern four-prong setting

An Old-Euorpean Cut Diamond in Modern Four-Prong Setting
Image: Sofia Kaman

Take this simplistic but stunning European cut diamond set in a modern four-prong setting from Sofia Kaman.

This is a mighty fine example of marrying the old with the new. This 18K yellow gold four-prong setting lifts and features a fabulous 2.56-carat center European cut diamond.

And, if that weren’t enough, the underside of the basket is studded with a hidden halo of diamonds.

Talk about a show stopper!

Vintage Luna halo ring with a rose cut diamond

A Rose-Cut Diamond Ring With Modern Brilliant Cut Accents
Image: LamoreDesign

Another perfect example of how we can combine these two styles effortlessly is this 14K rose gold vintage Luna halo engagement ring from LamoreDesign.

The elegant rose-cut diamond sits as the romantic center stone surrounded by a halo of modern brilliant white diamonds. The rose gold setting adds to a beautiful vintage feel that is subtle and truly unique!

Perfect for the modern, vintage-loving bride.

Where to buy antique cut diamond jewelry?

If you’re eager to get looking for your next antique cut diamond piece then we’d like to offer you some places that are worth a browse.

Because although antique cut diamonds are harder to find in the marketplace, they are out there!

  • 1stDibs - 1stDibs is an incredibly eclectic marketplace that has plenty of antique cut diamond jewelry on offer! From rings, earrings, and necklaces you could be lost among all of the various choices available on this website. Prices vary wildly but if you are a vintage or antique jewelry lover, this website is certainly for you…some antique cut diamond jewelry items sold here were created more than 300 years ago!
  • EraGem - EraGem is another marketplace offering an exquisite selection of antique cut diamond jewelry. They have a superb collection of European cut and old mine cut items that radiate character. There are so many different design choices to choose from that you are certain to find something that catches the eye. EraGem is ideal for finding a genuine vintage or antique piece.
  • Etsy - Yes, who would have thought it! Despite antique diamond cuts being rather difficult to find on the high street, Etsy still has jewelry designers who specialize in the creation of these beautiful pieces. You can browse for genuine pre-set vintage pieces or collaborate to create your own custom-designed piece!

Antique Diamond Cut Jewelry: Final Thoughts

Needless to say, antique and vintage-designed jewelry are still very much thriving in our modern world. For genuine antique diamond cut pieces, there is a certain allure to their history and uniqueness that is unmatched by modern jewelry.👄

To be sure, their subtle and soft appearance may not be desirable to everyone.

(Lovers of sparkle and bling, I’m looking at you!)

But for those seeking timeless elegance to their jewelry, the antique cut diamonds could be for you. Remember, when buying an item such as this it is worth considering following your gut feeling. It is certainly a purchase of the heart and the purchase of antique-style jewelry is going to be heavily reliant on personal preference.

With each piece being truly one of a kind, you can be sure that there is one out there that matches your own individual character and tells the story of who you are.

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