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Circular Brilliant vs. Old European Brilliant Cut Diamonds According to GIA

Nov 12, 2020

Oftentimes when we think of a diamond engagement ring, we have been conditioned to think of what is commonly known as the round brilliant cut. Their sparkle is unparalleled and they also tend to be less prone to damage or chips simply because of their shape. However, behind today’s round brilliant cut is centuries-worth of craftsmen who honed their skills in cutting diamonds to best show off its facets. And with that also comes an evolution in diamond shapes, such as with the Old European brilliant and the circular brilliant, the predecessors to today’s round brilliant.

So how do we compare a diamond that was cut a century ago by hand tools with a diamond that was cut last year with a laser? Fortunately, that’s where the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) comes in. There are different standards to reflect the techniques and styles of the period in which a diamond may have been cut. Having a set of standards in how we grade diamonds has been a rule of thumb for estate jewelers, buyers, and sellers such as Samuelson’s. By having these standards, we’re able to accurately grade a diamond so that we can fairly price it for our customers.

While a circular brilliant and an Old European brilliant cut may look very similar with their circular, face-up outlines, there are some significant differences. The easiest way to think of it is about the sort of pattern cast by the diamond depending on how the light hits. With Old European brilliants and circular brilliants, there is often a visible pattern on its face – such as a checkerboard or blocky pattern – with a beautiful interplay of light and dark. In comparison, today’s modern round brilliant is often described as splintery, because it displays a tighter mosaic of light and dark when the light hits.

To help differentiate a circular brilliant from an old European brilliant cut diamond, GIA has identified a set of criteria that must be met in order to be classified accordingly. For an Old European brilliant, they are generally characterized by having small table facets, heavy crowns, and deeper proportions. The primary difference is really in the angles and the proportions.

With diamonds, there’s something for everyone, which is why it’s so important to know the difference between these similar cuts. While some may prefer the interplay of light in a modern round brilliant cut diamond, others may appreciate the history and craftsmanship behind the cut of an older style diamond. We have the pleasure of working with both old and new by virtue of being a buyer and a seller. If you’d like to know more about how we can identify the cut of your diamond or how we evaluate its proportions, we’d be delighted to share more insights! To get started, visit our website to make an appointment or call one of our three locations!

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