The old mine cut: A rising trend with history...
A modern diamond’s cut says a lot about the wearer, as the elegant curves, corners, and silhouette speak to one’s preferred style. However, some diamond cuts also have a rich history, and the old mine cut of the 18th century is no exception.
While the old mine cut may have been an outdated cut a few years ago, 🥰it has recently gained favor with shoppers looking to purchase antique rings as well as those interested in environmental causes.
Let’s dive into the specifics of old mine cuts diamonds, specifically:
- Old mine cut basics and history
- The characteristics of old mine cut diamonds
- The old mine cut vs. the old European cut
- The old mine cut vs. the modern cushion cut
- The best settings for old mine cut diamonds
- Best places to find old mine cut gems and similar styles
Basics: What is an old mine cut diamond?
Old mine cut diamonds predate the popular old European-cut stone of the late 19th century, and their fire and sparkle are rather unique. But from where exactly did this interesting cut originate? And why does its subdued shine seem so romantic?
A brief history of old mine cut diamonds
Appearing in the early 18th century, the old mine cut reigned supreme as the diamond cut of choice during the Georgian, Victorian, and even Edwardian periods. During this time, diamonds were actually measured and cut manually by expert craftsmen who had to visually estimate their measurements. As such, the cut has a very antique look that fits well with vintage settings.
The name “old mine cut” originally didn’t refer to the shape of the stone itself, but rather the gem’s mine of origin. Diamonds from India and Brazil were referred to as “old mine” diamonds during the rise of newer African mines, which became the favored source in the following years.
The meaning of the name has changed over time, but today’s interpretation includes any squarish diamond with the original “old mine” facet arrangement.
The unique sparkle of the old mine cut
Old mine cut diamonds have a distinctive appearance, and no two vintage stones are alike! That’s because diamond cutters in the 18th century would utilize the octahedral silhouette of a diamond crystal to fashion this particular shape. As a result, each vintage, old mine cut diamond is completely unique, with varied dimensions and facet arrangements.
Similar to today’s cushion cut, this silhouette creates a short, squared body with broadly rounded corners. Their facet pattern doesn’t offer the strongest scintillation, but the old mine cut makes up for it with a warm glow and vintage appeal.🤠 While round diamonds soon eclipsed the old mine cut, these stones are seeing a resurgence as second-hand diamonds become more popular.
The main characteristics of old mine cut diamonds
In the early 1700s, candlelight was the main light source in most homes and businesses. In turn, old mine cut diamonds were cut under the rich glow of candles, and diamond cutters optimized their shape so that they could sparkle in dim lighting. To achieve this subdued warmth, diamond cutters gave old mine cut diamonds a few specific characteristics:
The old mine cut includes a smaller table than modern diamonds, which is a staple feature of most vintage cuts.
High Crown and Deep Pavilion
Unlike the balance sought in modern diamonds, this particular cut has a very high “crown” or upper portion of the diamond above the girdle. If you compared a contemporary diamond ring and one with an old mine cut diamond, you would notice how high the vintage diamond sits above the setting.
In addition, the “pavilion”—the section of the diamond below the girdle—is also deeper than current cuts. Speaking of the girdle, vintage styles like the old mine cut often have inconsistently thin girdles which must be protected by a durable setting!
The old mine cut diamond boasts a large, open culet that can actually be seen through the table of the stone! This is uncommon in more modern diamond cuts, which minimize the culet or eliminate it altogether.
Short, Chaotic Facets
An old mine cut stone has 58 facets like most contemporary cuts, but they’re a bit different in shape. Due to the large culet, this particular cut also has shorter lower half facets than most modern diamond cuts.
Remember: true old mine cut diamonds were crafted by hand! This means the symmetry of stones with this cut is typically disorderly, with imperfect facets that give each gem a little bit more personality than modern diamonds.
Next, we’ll discuss how old mine cut diamonds compare to other cuts with similar silhouettes.
Old mine cut vs. Old European-cut diamonds
By the late 19th century, the old mine cut was slowly being replaced with the old European cut. While diamond cutters crafted this style by hand as well, the old European cut took on a rounder shape that would become the inspiration for today’s round brilliant diamond.
These two cuts have much in common. For starters, they both include higher crowns and prominent culets. Each cut also has 58 facets, and the sparkle of both cuts is subtle yet refined.
However, the flat culet of the old European cut is often more centered than the old mine cut, which has a larger culet overall. The old European cut also features a higher crown and a slightly smaller table than the old mine cut.
Although both diamond cuts feature subdued brilliance, they actually show fires and sparkle rather differently thanks to their varied facet patterns. Finally, when it comes to shape, the old mine cut more closely resembles the modern cushion cut. In contrast, the old European cut is an early version of a round brilliant cut diamond.
The cushion cut diamond is a spiritual descendant of the old mine cut, and it was created in the late 1800s. It is also considered an “Old World” shape, but the old mine cut is actually referred to as the “antique cushion cut”. In reality, other than their squarish shape, these two cuts share few qualities!
First, cushion cut diamonds are still created today with high-tech lasers and equipment, which means the facets of a modern cushion cut are much more refined than an antique old mine cut diamond. This more precise cut also means cushion cut diamonds are much more brilliant than their old mine cut counterparts.
Next, old mine cut diamonds have clearly visible, open culets, while the cushion cut has seen many revisions over the years that have minimized the culet—if there even is one. Finally, old mine cuts also have smaller tables, higher crowns, and much deeper pavilions than cushion cuts.🤔
There are several settings for old mine cut diamonds that can accentuate the stone’s muted brilliance. This particular cut is gorgeous as a solitaire or accompanied by side stones, and both modern and vintage settings are perfect for this unique diamond cut. Let’s look at a few top setting choices for old mine cut diamond rings:
A solitaire setting can make any diamond sparkle beautifully, as this minimalist setting allows light to enter the stone from multiple angles. Classic and understated, a solitaire setting can accentuate your diamond’s historic appeal.✌🏻
What’s more, solitaire settings offer more than enough protection to keep a delicate old mine cut diamond secure. You can protect the stone’s thin girdle with a traditional four or six-prong setting, but older styles—like this eight-prong old mine cut engagement ring—can further defend your diamond from any contact with hard surfaces.
A plain metal band is always the best way to achieve a clean silhouette, but detailed antique bands can provide a hint of class without going overboard. This white gold solitaire setting includes a simple band with intricate filigree instead of relying on side stones that can detract from your diamond.
You can also achieve a rather luxe appeal with old mine cut diamonds by adding side stones to your solitaire setting. This ring with channel set side stones and double-row milgraining makes a statement while exuding Old World glam.🥂
For a more modern look, try a rose gold solitaire setting to add a touch of contemporary glam to your antique diamond. Yellow and rose gold are great options for old mine cut diamonds, as the warm color of each metal complements the natural warmth of the stone’s cut.💝
A three-stone diamond ring is decadent, regal, and eye-catching. So, it’s no surprise that combining three old mine cut diamonds can create a glamorous piece that exudes Old Hollywood opulence.💃🏻
Traditionally, three-stone rings are very secure, as they protect the edges of diamonds by placing them close together and adding tight prongs to any exposed edges. The result is a stunning engagement ring with incredible sparkle thanks to the extra stones on either side of the center diamond.
A simple three-stone setting offers plenty of brilliance by itself without adding more diamonds to the mix. A neutral band draws the eye to the diamonds themselves, trapping the gaze and eliciting plenty of compliments!
However, there’s nothing wrong with accent stones or metalwork for those wearers who wish to stand out.
To create texture, you can also mix and match diamond shapes in your three-stone setting. This three-stone ring still has an old mine cut stone at its center, but it’s surrounded by tapered baguettes that can make one’s finger appear thinner.
If you’re looking for something completely different, try finding a ring that features colored gemstones! This old mine cut sapphire and diamond ring calls to mind the stunning engagement ring of Duchess Kate Middleton, creating a look that’s both classic and royal.👸🏻
A halo of diamonds embracing your old mine cut diamond is one of the best ways to enhance brilliance and create a luxurious yet sophisticated piece. The accent stones surrounding your center diamond will naturally bring out its inner fire and encourage plenty of light play!
Halo settings are also very secure, and your old mine cut diamond should avoid serious damage. You may lose a few accent stones over time if you’re not careful, but they’re easily replaced either for free or for a small fee depending on your jeweler’s service package.
When it comes to customizing your halo setting, the sky’s the limit! Halos come in all shapes and sizes, from traditional diamond halos to colorful styles with sapphires and other gemstones. They can be round, square, or even resemble fun shapes like this flower-inspired halo setting.
A colored center stone is also an exciting way to switch up your diamond ring and bring a splash of personality to your piece. For instance, this halo setting features a massive 5.51-carat yellow diamond that looks like it belongs in the Tiffany & Co. archives!
If you’d like to preserve the Old World allure of your old mine cut diamond, try a vintage setting from the Georgian, Victorian, or Edwardian period. These styles focused on geometric designs and ornate details that put the history of your diamond on display.
There are several styles of antique rings that can suit an old mine cut diamond, but some tend to stand out more than others. Many Art Deco pieces include striking silhouettes, colored gemstones, and intricate metalwork that add personality to your ring. Furthermore, flashy cocktail rings are an excellent way to make a statement with your old mine cut diamond.
Another antique style that’s becoming popular once more is cluster diamond rings, which are an affordable alternative to some more ornate settings. Cluster settings utilize smaller diamonds to create a mound or “cluster” of gems that sparkle together as one. The cluster may be round, square, or really any shape you can think of. And, because you’re paying for a group of smaller diamonds, it’s often a less expensive option!
These are just a few suggestions when it comes to antique ring settings. Once you start your ring search, you’ll find there are limitless, one-of-a-kind vintage settings for your old mine cut diamond!
Because of their antique status, old mine cut diamonds can’t be bought at every jewelry store. In fact, unless a retailer has a diamond cutter with the skill to craft a modern version of the old mine cut, most gems with this vintage shape can be found at antique shops and estate jewelers.
As such, we’ve collected a list of places to start your old mine cut diamond search, and it includes both antique jewelry sellers and retailers who focus on “new” old mine cuts:
If you’re in the market for a new diamond that carries the old mine cut style, Victor Canera should be your first stop! This reputable diamond shop believes in the beauty of Old World cuts, and they handcraft their antique cushion cuts with exceptional precision and performance.
Victor Canera strives to create one-of-a-kind pieces that combine Old World and contemporary glamour, and the family behind the business has worked with diamonds for three generations! Visit their FAQ to learn more about why Victor Canera diamonds should be your top choice when seeking a “new” old mine cut diamond.✨
For those shoppers who’d prefer a vintage diamond, start your journey at EraGem, a shop for estate, retro, and antique diamonds. EraGem is dedicated to offering top-quality vintage pieces that preserve the classic appeal of early-era diamond rings.
Buying diamonds second-hand can sometimes be risky, as less reputable dealers may try to scam uninformed buyers. To prevent this, each product listing at EraGem provides as much information as possible to ensure you make an informed decision. These listings include diamond specs, reports and appraisals, setting history and design characteristics, resizing information, and more!✍🏻
Another excellent shop for antique old mine cut diamonds is 1stDibs, which offers a mix of vintage and contemporary goods. Similar to EraGem, 1stDibs curates their selection based on quality, creating an inventory of stunning old mine cut pieces that are sure to please.
The sellers on 1stDibs are encouraged to offer as much information as possible about their product, including specs, resizing information, history, and more. If you’re unsure about a particular piece, you can typically message the seller so they can answer your questions and quell any concerns. While EraGem is an excellent place to find top-notch old mine cut diamonds, 1stDibs gives buyers a chance to connect with individual sellers and create memories with the purchase of their new piece.
While it may not be as dazzling as the modern brilliant cut diamond, the old mine cut brings a simple, understated beauty to any engagement ring. The soft edges and handcrafted facets provide an Old World glow, and it’s hard to believe you can get such an expensive look for an affordable price! Old mine cut diamonds may be tougher to come by nowadays, but they’re still an ideal choice for those who prefer a simpler sparkle.
The modern brilliant cut diamond has an interesting history full of mathematical precision and scientific implications. You can learn more about Marcel Tolkowsky—the father of the ideal cut diamond—here, or read our diamond cut guide for more information regarding the skill necessary to craft the perfect diamond.