Vintage diamond cuts have seen a big revival in recent years, as couples turn to something unique for their engagement rings. While the round brilliant cut still remains a wonder of modern diamond cutting technology, there’s something about antique cuts that have a special appeal.
Let’s take a look at the most popular types of antique diamond cuts and where you can find them.
1- The Rose Cut (c. 1530)
Modern rose cut diamond ring.
One of the best-loved of all the antique diamond cuts, the rose cut is unique in its shape. It features a flat bottom and a domed top, rising to a peak. The number of facets can range from 3 to 24 and can be cut into a variety of shapes, including hexagons, kites, squares and triangles. The cut can make the diamond appear larger, as there is less diamond beneath the surface. Rose cuts were designed to shine in candlelight and so aren’t highly brilliant cuts.
The rose cut is perfect for someone in love with the romance of the past. It’s a delicate-looking, beautiful cut that has fluctuated in popularity but today remains one of the most popular of the antique diamond cuts.
2- The Peruzzi cut (c. 1700)
Antique Peruzzi cut ring.
The Peruzzi cut, invented by Vincent Peruzzi a Venetian diamond polisher, is a rare antique cut that you won’t come across much today. It was the inspiration for the old mine cut which has similar features and was more cushion-shaped than round with four curved corners. This was because the process of bruting (diamond cutting with specialized tools) was not yet invented and achieving perfectly round curves was still difficult. The Peruzzi cut featured 33 facets on the crown, where previously there was only 17 facets. This gave it a brilliance and fire not seen before. The Peruzzi cut is known as the first brilliant cut.
3- Old Mine Cut (1825)
Old mine cut diamond ring.
The old mine cut was one of the most popular diamond cuts of its day. The cut featured 58 facets (like today’s round cut) but were more cushion-shaped than round. The cut has a small table, which gave it a high, domed look and large, open facets that varied in size. Like many cuts of the time, old mine cuts diamonds were shaped to sparkle under candlelight. They have exceptional fire but lower brilliance than today’s cuts. The old mine cut is the quintessential example of an antique cut and is perfect for a vintage inspired ring.
4- The Old European Cut
Old European cut diamond ring.
This cut is very similar to the old mine cut in terms of its cut specifications. The main difference is in the shape of the diamond’s girdles (the edge around the diamond). The old mine cut featured a square-ish girdle which gave it a cushion shape. However, the old European cut showcases a round girdle and 58 facets, making it the forerunner of today’s round brilliant cut.
The old European cut had a large, open culet (the point at the bottom of a diamond) which was visible from the top of the stone. The cut gives off a different type of sparkle and fire to what we’re used to today. Also, as there was no standard for these cuts, each stone was unique, cut to maximize the diamond rough.
5- The Transition Cut, a.k.a. the Early American Cut (c. 1870)
Antique transition cut diamond in platinum.
The transition cut was designed by a diamond cutter Henry Morse based in the US. It’s called the transition cut as it represents the period leading up to the modern brilliant cuts, where trial and error featured prominently. Morse and his team focused on brilliance and beauty, instead of on saving the diamond rough. This was the first time that diamonds were being cut to maximize how they looked rather than on how large they were. The cut featured innovative faceting, strategic placement and a focus on consistency and standardization. Marcel Tolkowsky, the famous inventor of today’s round brilliant, would later build on this platform. Today, finding a transition cut diamond is rare, making each antique transition cut truly special.
Why Choose an Antique Cut?
What are the benefits of choosing an antique diamond cut over an exceptionally brilliant, stylish modern cut? Here are a few factors to consider:
- Antique cut diamonds are unique meaning that you’ll likely be the only one you’ll know who owns one. Each diamond is different, making them truly personal.
- It’s a great choice if you love vintage things. It speaks of a simpler time and is a nod to history.
- If a replica cut is set in a modern engagement ring, you get a cross between the old and the new. Not only can this be the something old and something new for your wedding, but it also represents the past and the present leading to the future of your journey together.
- The focus is less on light performance and dazzling, innovative faceting structures and more on the calm beauty of a hand cut diamond.
However, even if you’re sold on antique cut diamonds, finding one can prove difficult. Diamond cutters don’t make them this way anymore, especially because of the low demand. You can always take your search to estate jewelry sites or to online marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon, that often feature authentic antique diamond pieces from the past.
Etsy has a range of beautiful designs, many of them featuring modern replicas of antique cuts. The images featured above all come from Etsy, showcasing what you can find on the site. While certain cuts like the transition and Peruzzi are much rarer to find, others like the rose and old mine cuts are more available. In particular, there are many modern rose cut diamonds and gemstones in a variety of styles to suit all. The trick is to keep looking till you find the ring you love!