This morning I was working on an appraisal for a very cool, lattice-work Art Deco diamond ring. We have the most amazing selection of these pretty rings, and brides-to-be from all places peruse our website and pop into our shop to try these little beauties on their fingers.
In the 1800’s the most popular cut was the Old Mine-cut. Then at the beginning of the 20th century it evolved into the Old European-cut. During the 1940’s the traditional, or modern, round brilliant was born. All three of these cuts have the same number of facets and almost the same facet arrangement. The subtle differences are due to the size of the facets and the shape of the girdle.
Old Mine-cuts have a slight cushion shape. This is due to the available technology at the time. When a diamond cutter brutes the girdle by hand, it is nearly impossible to make it perfectly round. A girdle refers to the widest part of the stone.
Old European-cuts distinguish themselves from Old Mine’s because the technology had advanced enough to brute round girdles. They still possess the smaller table and open culet than distinguishes older stones. The table is the large, flat facet at the top of the diamond and the culet is the small, flat facet on the bottom.
Modern round brilliant-cuts tend to have larger tables and much smaller (if any) culets with nearly perfectly round girdles.
Now, you may ask, what is the point of this lesson? The point is all of these stones are beautiful. Some modern cuts are atrocious, as some old cuts are poorly done. One style is not necessarily inferior to the other. Old Mine-cuts are sometimes very chunky looking almost like small disco or soccer balls. The benefit to this is that this diamond will sparkle from all angles, even in the dimmest light. Many modern stones only sparkle from the face-down angle. Modern certificates determine cut grade based solely on this angle. Old diamond cutters had a much more liberal view (as well as more humble technology). Old European-cuts bridge this gap and tend to be somewhat more chunky than their more contemporary counterparts so you receive the benefits of multi-angle sparkle with the full brilliance we have come to expect.
Old stones have a softer facet arrangement. Modern diamonds have a very sharp, almost snowflake-style pavilion. Old stones have the sweetest, softest angles and the pavilions almost “bloom” like flowers. I can identify an old stone instantly by looking at the pattern of light at the bottom of the stone. I have to admit that I am not an impartial judge. I prefer the variety in older cuts. Modern cuts look so similar, one after the other, and one “perfect” diamond looks exactly like the next. Older stones have more personality, and contrary to what a modern jeweler would tell you, you don’t have to sacrifice an iota of sparkle. You just need to broaden your horizons a bit.