Old Cut Diamonds

An Old Cut Diamond epitomizes the enduring romance of gifting diamonds, the tradition harking from hundreds of years ago. These sentimental and glowing diamonds can be split into three classifications, the Old Mine Cut, the Old European Cut and the Transitional Cut. The Old Cut category expresses the development of diamond manufacture. The Old Mine and Old European Cuts paved the way for the Transitional Cut, and the Modern Round Brilliant Cut thereafter. Other historic diamond cuts include the Rose Cut and Single Cut. Old Cut diamonds look truly sensational in diamond jewellery and engagement rings, perfect for the lady who desires an antique and stylish addition to her jewellery collection.

Old Cut diamonds can be broadly identified by a few distinguishing features. Firstly, Old Cut diamonds tend to be cut a lot deeper than their modern counterparts. Look for a particularly steep crown or pavilion angle from the stone when viewed side on. They also tend to have a smaller table facet, and a noticeable culet that is polished flat. As well as this, the arrangement of facets is less symmetrical and uniform than you see in a Modern Round Brilliant Cut.

Old Cut diamonds were cut by hand, with the intention of retaining as much of the weight of the crystal as possible. They were also cut individually with the intention of looking as brilliant as possible under candle and gaslights. This craftsmanship gives each individual stone more character and charm, as opposed to the precise and mechanised cutting of Modern Round Brilliant Cut diamonds. It is these old methods of cutting that give the old cut diamonds their warm, candlelight glow.

Through inspection of Old Cut diamonds, the viewer is able to see the developments of diamond manufacture and how they influenced later cuts. 

Old Mine Cut

The Old Mine Cut applies to many of the diamonds cut before 1890. They are square in shape with gently rounded corners. Most diamond crystals are in an octahedral or cubic shape, and so the old mine cut diamonds were cut, by hand, to maximise the weight of the stone. It is unsurprising then, that most of these stones have a squarish girdle. The introduction of bruting in 1820 allowed for a reasonably circular shaped outline, but this technology wasn’t widespread until later on in the 19th century.

Old Mine Cushion Cut Diamond

Due to their curved corners, Old Mine Cuts are seen as the forerunner to the Cushion Cut. Old Mine Cut diamonds boast the same outline as the modern Cushion Cut but possess different facet proportions. The old mine cut has a smaller table, deeper crown and pavilion, and larger culet.

The old mine cut was used extensively in Georgian and Victorian jewellery, and sometimes the stones were set in closed back settings often with foil behind the diamond to enhance the colour and return of light.

Old European Cut

The Old European Cut diamond has a rounder shape than the Old Mine Cut. However, the proportions of a high crown, small table and large culet are shared between the two cuts. The girdle outline is circular, and so the Old European Cut really is the predecessor of the modern Round Brilliant Cut.

Round Old Mine Cut Diamond

The Old European Cut was mainly set in Victorian and Edwardian jewellery. The Old European Cut is incredibly deep, with a relatively thicker pavilion than modern cuts today. This draws the eye in to the stone, showcasing fire and brilliance from the ‘candlelight’ era of cutting.

Transitional Cut 

The Transitional Cut is the name given to round, well proportioned diamonds that were cut in between the 1920s and the 1940s, prior to the implementation of Tolkowsky’s Ideal Cut. The Transitional Cut has a lower crown angle, a larger table, and smaller culet than the Old European Cut. Altogether, the Transitional Cut is a well proportioned and balanced diamond cut.  

Transitional Cut Diamond

These cuts were overseen by Henry D. Morse, the first American diamond cutter. For this reason, Transitional Cuts are sometimes referred to as Early American Cuts. Morse’s team of diamond cutters used the newly invented diamond lathe powered by steam, and diamond saws in order to create flatter, symmetrical and rounded stones. As these Transitional Cuts were a work in progress, this cut can possess all manner of angles, proportions and facet numbers, and therefore each Transitional Cut is truly unique.

As well as this, cutters were guided by electrical light, meaning that a greater understanding of light performance. A higher degree of brilliance and scintillation was strived for. During this limited timeframe, the industry was moving from the Old European Cut into the Modern Round Brilliant Cut. This ‘transition period’ is where these lovely diamonds get their name.

Find the perfect Old Cut Diamond rings and jewellery, contact our team of diamond jewellery specialists for more advice on diamonds and cuts, call us on 01335 453 453 or email us at sales@britishdiamondcompany.com.