Baltimore (410) 837-0290
Washington, D.C./Chevy Chase (301) 718-4825
Northern Virginia (703) 714-9553
Go Back
Diamonds 101

The Debate Over Old Diamond Cuts

May 16, 2014

The debate over old diamond cuts is alive and well these days, mostly due to the new grading report description the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) added for round 58-facet brilliant cut diamonds, the “circular brilliant” cut, back in October.

Conversations continue between antique diamond dealers and the GIA over the grading of older diamonds because many of the diamond dealers have stones that don’t quite fit the parameters that GIA sets for grading modern cut diamonds. Many old cuts have been falling into the modern round brilliant category, where they sometimes received “fair” or “poor” cut grades.

There are plenty of beautiful diamonds out there that were cut 70, 80, even 90 years ago. Samuelson’s Diamonds recently sold the ring below to a customer, which was actually mined during the turn of the last century.

Old Mine Cut 1ct Diamond

These diamonds are cut beautifully and some customers actually prefer them to modern cuts. However, today’s standards are different and may bring out the highest light performance because of modern science and more advanced tools than 70+ years ago. This makes it difficult to judge them against today’s aesthetic. In spite of this, there is a market for their antique beauty. In fact, some consumers cherish their different interplay with light.

Our owner, Ron Samuelson’s loves when we get our hands on an old cut saying, “When we acquire an old mine cut or European cut diamond, we study the diamond and decide whether to recut it to a modern or leave it as is. This is an interesting part of the business that is all about aesthetics. If an older diamond is chipped and lumpy, we’ll make it a modern cut. However, if it looks symmetrical and has retained it’s beauty, we’ll often leave it as is or fix it just a little, keeping it as it was originally cut.”

So what’s the difference between the cuts of today, and those from the past? Let us explain:

  • Old Mine Cuts (1600’s to late 1800’s) – Diamonds with this cut possess a squarish girdle with gently rounded corners. Old mine cut diamonds have a high crown, a small table, and a large, flat culet.

  • European Cuts (late 1800’s – 1930’s) – Like the old mine cut, diamonds cut into this shape possess a high crown, small table, and a large, flat culet. However, the old European cut has a circular girdle. With 58 facets, it is the predecessor of today’s modern round brilliant cut.

  • Modern Brilliant Cut (1920’s – present)– Like the old European cut, a round brilliant cut diamond has a circular girdle and 58 facets. However, the round brilliant cut lacks a culet. There were many older round brilliants were cut between the 1870s and the 1940s, and some served as transitions between older and more-modern styles, some trade professionals call them “transitional cuts.”

The early 1900s also saw the popularity of the Asscher cut, a square diamond with cropped corners. Below is an example of an Asscher cut diamond we recently sold.

Asscher Cut Diamond

Currently, antique diamond dealers are calling upon the GIA to expand the parameters of what constitutes an old European cut, and even allow those who deal in older stones to opt out of receiving a cut grade entirely. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on this ongoing debate.

If you have questions about a particular cut of diamond, feel free to ask! Our knowledgeable staff is always happy to educate our customers on all thing diamonds.

Read The Latest News From Samuelson's

The World’s Most Expensive Diamonds

Jul 27, 2020

We love diamonds – after all who doesn’t? (For those of you that prefer other gemstones, don’t worry, we have those too.) Diamonds get their glittery appeal thanks to natural chemistry. When heat and pressure deep under the surface of the Earth…

Read More

Is it Real? Here’s How to Spot a Fake

Jul 23, 2020

We’ve all heard those stories. Of that guy who bought his fiancée a gorgeous ring and presented it to her in a blue Tiffany’s box. The ring is dazzling and sparkling – but just a tad too big. So the fiancée goes to Tiffany’s to get the ring…

Read More

What is Fluorescence in Diamonds and Why Does it Matter?

Jul 16, 2020

Have you ever noticed how sometimes, a diamond’s sparkle can take on a blueish glow? That’s due to something called fluorescence. While we focus on the color of a diamond (or lack thereof) to grade the diamond’s color, there’s another factor that…

Read More

What You Need to Know About Custom Jewelry Design

Jul 13, 2020

There exists a countless number of jewelry designs out in the world. Many of which are unique pieces that are based solely on one person’s imagination. While the majority of people will choose to go with a tried and true, traditional design, there is…

Read More

Stay In Touch