What’s in the cut of a diamond? (part 1)

What’s in the cut of a diamond? (part 1)
We can’t let April pass, without acknowledging this month’s birthstone which is diamond.  For all the diamond lovers in the world, this may seem unfair.  But the good news is that we all get to enjoy these brilliant beauties, whether in an engagement ring, a pair of diamond studs or a tennis bracelet. When shopping for diamonds, you always hear about the 4 C’s which stand for Colour, Cut, Clarity and Carat Weight.  What’s the most important C for you?  It’s a tough question – we chose the Cut, how its facets and angles are cut and polished − affects its overall appearance – its “Wow” factor.

We thought we would begin this discussion with what is known as old cuts.  As we are fans of antique and vintage jewellery, and there are so many gorgeous diamond pieces, some with cuts that may be unfamiliar but worth taking a closer look.

One of the things that many people love about old cut diamonds vs. round brilliants is the fact that they were cut by hand. Romantics are drawn to the idea of a craftsman at his workbench hand-cutting their stone over a century ago. This legacy is evident as a close look at any old cut diamond will quickly reveal that its facets are bigger and less uniformly-shaped than those of modern brilliant-cut stone. Each stone has its own recognisable sparkle due to the shape, size, and placement of its facets.

The term “cut” is often used to talk about the shape of a diamond (such as “round brilliant cut” or “princess cut”). But shape refers to the form of the diamond, while cut refers to how the diamond’s proportions reflect light.
The finer the cut of a diamond, the greater the level of brilliance and fire.

Here is the list of the most common vintage and antique diamonds cuts:

Antique Cushion Cut Diamond.
Old European Cut Diamond.
Old Mine Cut Diamond.
Rose-Cut Diamond.
Asscher Cut Diamond.
Antique Emerald Cut Diamond.

We will be focusing on the following 3 cuts:

What is a rose-cut diamond?
Considered one of the original diamond cuts, the rose-cut diamond dates back to the early 1500s. With anywhere from three to 24 triangular facets, rose-cut diamonds peak into a dome or kite-shape. This structure resembles the soft curve of a rose petal, hence its name.

This individual diamond cut is hand-carved, unlike machine cut brilliant diamonds seen in the majority of modern jewellery. Rose-cut diamonds are elegant reminders of the past, which make for a compelling centerpiece and you’ll often see rose cuts in antique style jewellery designs. But despite their rarity, this vintage diamond cut is making a comeback in modern jewellery design. London jeweller, David Morris, has created an entire rose-cut collection.  Stars such as Jennifer Aniston, Alison Brie, and Camila Alves all wear rose-cut diamond engagement rings–a clear mark of their resurgence.

What is an Old European cut diamond?
A predecessor of the round brilliant diamond, the old European cut also has 58 facets and was created in the late 19th century. Its higher crown, smaller table, and larger culet give the stone an incredible depth and presence. The old European cut diamond has astounding vintage appeal–you’ll often find them set in heirloom designs including Edwardian, Victorian, and Art-Nouveau jewellery.

Vintage collectors often refer to the cut’s “inner fire”, which describes the distinct contrast of bright and dark flashes of light within an old European cut–resulting in a checkerboard effect.

What is an Old Mine cut diamond?
Dating back to the mid-1800s through to the 1900s, the old mine cut diamond was developed in Brazil. It is considered one of the earliest forms of the brilliant cut with 58 facets.

Why should I choose an old mine cut diamond?
Often seen in jewellery from the Georgian and Victorian eras, old mine cut diamonds are similar to a modern-day cushion cut.

Much like other vintage diamond cuts like the old European cut and the rose-cut, old mine cut diamonds tend to hand-cut with the aid of early machinery. Each stone possesses its own individual and unique character, making this diamond cut a favourite of those longing for a one-of-a-kind jewellery piece.

Whether you are a hopeless romantic or someone that prefers the sparks to fly, Covett can help you acquire the unique diamond jewellery you dream of.

How to Find out More About Early Diamond Cuts:

The GIA encyclopedia is an excellent resource if you want to do a deep dive into a gemstone.

The exceptional diamond jewellery featured in this article all contain old cut diamonds and are from the Bentley & Skinner collection of fine jewels.

Finally, if you are interested in modern rose-cut diamonds, take a look at David Morris or Taylor & Hart.

Currently, in the vault, we have an amazing Bentley & Skinner Diamond-set Heart Pendant, which is a late Victorian era (Circa 1890)  pendant which can also be worn as a brooch.  This lovely piece is set throughout with old brilliant-cut diamonds graduating from the centre. Find the details here.