There are many factors that go into the decision to buy a diamond. The 4Cs - cut, color, clarity and carat weight - are used to define the differences between stones and will all play into the cost and appearance of a diamond during the selection process. However, the age of the stone can also be an important element to take into consideration.

Modern round brilliant cut diamonds began taking over the jewelry industry in the 1950s and are the culmination of centuries in experimentation and advancements in cutting techniques and technologies from across the globe.  Precision in contemporary diamond cutting has led to the ability to achieve consistent proportions for a uniform cut and style.  Based on the expectation of conformity to these parameters, a cut grade is given only to the Round Brilliant Cut diamond by gemological laboratories, such as GIA and EGL.

Since the 1970s, computers have been used to design diamond cuts, and the actual cutting work is now largely carried out by lasers instead of human hands. The dazzling characteristics of the modern Round Brilliant Cut have made it the dominant cutting style to this day, however the combination of this standardization in excellent cutting with the popularity and prevalence of the round brilliant cut diamond have made it a rather common look.

Vintage and antique diamonds - Transitional Cuts, Old European Cuts, Old Mine Cuts and even older cutting styles - have a lot to offer someone who might be looking for an alternative to the mainstream round brilliant cut while still being a natural diamond, durable and enduring.  Vintage diamonds are an inherently sustainable and environmentally-friendly option as the reuse of old diamonds do not contribute to the demand for newly mined material. 

Environmental Impact - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Socially conscientious buyers have a great alternative in old cut diamonds. Round brilliant cut diamonds are the prevailing and most popular current cutting style. In an effort to fulfill this consumer demand, newly mined diamond material tends to be cut in this fashion. Old cut diamonds have been above-ground for decades - if not centuries. Already-mined material does not continue to contribute to the environmental and humanitarian issues associated with contemporary mining. 

Antique diamonds are the most sustainable material option on the market today since no new mining or production went into its current availability. Additionally, this contributes to old cut diamonds also being a great economic choice as well since above-ground diamonds have fewer upfront costs.

A Different Kind of Sparkle 

Antique diamonds were cut into different proportions than modern-cut diamonds. This is not simply due to the more rudimentary diamond cutting methods available at the time, but also because of the environments in which diamond jewelry would have been worn and enjoyed during these earlier eras. 

Originally cut to perform well under candle light, oil lamps, gas light, and eventually dim electric lighting, antique and old cut diamonds bring superior brilliance to real world lighting conditions of today as well.  These wide hand cut facets return exceptionally big and bright sparkle as well as captivating flashes of colorful fire and rainbow refractions. Compared to modern-cut equivalents, old cut diamonds often appear to show less color than their color grade might suggest due to the bold and bright reflections of brilliance. 

Connections to the past

Diamonds are one of the most steadfastly durable materials on the Earth. Old cut diamonds highlight this exceptional characteristic in bridging history - connecting the classically honed work of artisans of the past with the lasting wearability and style in jewelry today. There is something truly romantic in a beautiful physical object which so clearly represents resilience and enduring commitment as a hundred year old hand cut diamond. For meaningful jewelry, vintage diamonds offer an excellent choice which establishes an heirloom for your family, continuing to dazzle and delight for the decades and centuries to come.

Rare/ Uncommon/Unique look

The charisma of charmingly wide hand cut facets in enchanting and unique patterns of antique diamonds continue to inspire contemporary jewelry designers and jewelry lovers who revel in an uncommon look of the otherwise conventional diamond.  When most people think of a diamond today, they envision the modern round brilliant cut diamond that has become the most favored style for over half a century. Many people have not ever seen an Old European cut or Old Mine cut diamond in real life! Enchanting hand cut wide facets bring vibrant sparkle and spectacular vivid fire into sophisticated and modern designs for a 21st century look that is anything but ordinary. Old cut diamond center stones are able to create an extraordinary and unparalleled piece of jewelry - even within a solitaire design - due to the inherent and distinctive characteristics within each and every one of these diamonds.

The technological advances in diamond cutting machinery have made the “ideal” proportions more accessible than ever before. Due to this, all modern round brilliant cut diamonds are striving to conform to these standards and end up looking nearly identical to every other modern round brilliant cut diamond.  This is why the 4Cs are so helpful when shopping for a diamond - if these diamonds are already so similar in appearance, then strict definitions of subtle differences need to be used in order to determine value and quality.

Intuitive Beauty

When it comes down to it, the diamond you ultimately choose needs to be beautiful to you. Focus on diamonds that you find attractive, not simply what a piece of paper says. If you find yourself drawn to the sustainability and history of old diamond cuts, trust your preference!  For antique diamonds are so varied and unique that you cannot get a true sense of the stone based on a certificate alone.  

Much of the appeal of vintage diamonds are the characteristics which make them unique. Each stone truly is one of a kind when it has been cut by human hands! Perhaps the inclination towards one stone versus another can rest in the eye of the beholder, not necessarily its adherence to an optimal cut quality standard determined generations after the stone was originally cut and polished.

Cost Effective

Finally, antique old cut diamonds are not only noteworthy in their incomparable aesthetic characteristics, they also offer a great cost-effective alternative to modern-cut diamonds. Inherent to any older item of exquisite quality and fine craftsmanship - the costs of production are paid highest with the initial owner and already-mined diamonds have fewer upfront manufacturing costs to cover. 

Round brilliant cut diamonds are eternally at the tip of the diamond market, but the consumer demand for brilliant cut diamonds in other fancy shapes play into the friendlier rate on old cut diamonds as well. Based on the current trendiness of a shape and cut, modern-cut diamonds are able to command a premium price tag. Princess cut, oval shapes, radiant cuts, and marquise shapes have seen their demand ebb and flow in the waves of fashion. Chasing trends will always be expensive with costs exploding in the peaks of popularity and then looking dated when trends move on to the next thing. 

Bottom Line

Old cut diamonds provide an opportunity to own a resilient and durable diamond while being an incredibly sustainable jewelry option at a lower cost than most other diamonds. These stones are distinct in their unique aesthetics which bridge the past to the present, enchanting its wearer with enchanting brilliance that is unequaled by modern cutting standards.

If you are looking for an Earth-mined stone that stands out in a crowd while being gentle on the environment and your wallet, explore the world of old cut diamonds!

June 07, 2023 — Mona Porter

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