A Guide to Old Cut Diamonds

A Guide to Old Cut Diamonds

What is an old cut diamond?

When shopping for antique diamond jewellery, you may come across the term ‘old cut’ more often than not. This may leave you questioning the differences in cuts of diamonds and what this tells you about the stones.

Here at 50 Henley Street, we like to provide the peace of mind that comes with professional knowledge and advice that will help you better understand your jewellery.

Old cut diamonds generally refer to old European cut and old mine cut diamonds. While the former is more similar to the modern round brilliant cut, the shape of the latter can range from almost cushion cut-like, to irregularly shaped, to round.

Further in this blog, we will explore the physical and historical aspects of what are known to be old cut diamonds


Old Cut Diamond and Platinum RingModern Round Brilliant Cut Diamond Platinum Ring

 Old European Cut Diamond circa 1920s.                 Modern Round Brilliant Cut Diamond.

Hand craftsmanship

Prior to the advancements in diamond cutting technologies around 1890s, the diamonds were once cut by craftsmen who had full liberty in the creation of the diamond shape. The creators were responsible for the overall look and feel of each diamond they cut, as they positioned the facets as they saw fit during the cutting and polishing process. Many old cuts have almost as many facets as a Modern Brilliant Cut shape, really showing the skill of these craftsmen, who were able to cut with as much detail as seen in currently machine-manufactured stones.

Though while modern round brilliant cuts have a standard geometric design, old cut diamonds offer a unique hand-finished aesthetic, as no two old cut stones are identical. To think that the artisan craftsmen would have worked for hours at a bench polishing the stone by hand to give it the desired lustre which sparks emotion that cannot be replicated by a modern machine-cut stone.


Physical characteristics

While the differences in facets are minimal between modern round brilliant cuts and old cuts diamonds, the overall appearance of the two cuts have rather obvious differences in the aesthetic. These aesthetic distinctions between the old and new are resultant from the hand-cut nature of old cuts, as this means that the stones are rarely fully symmetrical. It is these imperfections in which the true beauty and character of an old cut diamond lies.


In terms of general shape, old cut diamonds tend to have a smaller table and taller crown than that seen in modern cut round diamonds, and while the culet of a modern diamond come to a point, old cuts tend to have an extra facet in place which are commonly visible from the crown (top) view of the stone.


Going even further back in time, the predecessor of the old European cut, the old mine cut, can often be found in jewellery from the Victorian era. Old mine cuts can really differ in shape due to the rougher hand craftsmanship, and can are generally non-symmetrical, adding to the antique feel of the jewellery. Facets in old mine cuts can also differ due to the lack of conformity amongst craftsmen, but they generally have lesser facets than old European cuts, and therefore these diamonds have lesser brilliance but are still full of character.


Are these older diamonds more valuable?

As modern jewellery generally use modern machine-cut stones, old mine cut and old European cut diamonds are more rare, and therefore may be more valuable to those who enjoy antiquity with their jewellery. However, the overall value of the stones still largely depend on the 4 Cs of the diamond: the colour, clarity, cut and carat weight. 

High quality old cut diamonds are largely sought after, especially those that resemble round brilliant cuts, as they exude old charm, and truly represent that 'diamonds are forever'. 


Our old cuts



The classic vintage looks:

Old cushion cut 1.16ct central diamond (0.20ct shoulders) ring circa 1950's 


Gorgeous 80pt central old European cut diamond in platinum millgrain setting circa 1920s


For those who like them BIG and BRILLIANT:

The most amazing 6.65cts solitaire old European cut originally cut 1920s. (I-J colour VS2 clarity)


The heirloom-worthy:

A unique 'Toi et Moi' old european cut diamond ring circa 1850s.



The most amazing genuine hand-made Art Deco old European cut Diamond and Emerald target ring on a beautiful hand made ring mount. 



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