Byreuvenveksler
January 26, 2023
6 min read

What is the Old mine cut and is it worth looking for it at the market?

What is the Old mine cut and is it worth looking for it at the market?

Antique mine cut diamonds have an old-fashioned look that appears as if they came straight from your grandmother’s jewelry collection. Their vintage style gives them a distinctive and eye-catching appearance. These diamonds are reminiscent of a time before modern diamond cutting methods existed, when everything was done by hand.

In recent years, they have been experiencing a renaissance – more specifically, a second surge of fascination and want. This vintage diamond cut continues to enthrall with its nostalgic charm and handcrafted allure.

What are the Old mine cut diamonds?

What is the Old mine cut and is it worth looking for it at the market?
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Old Mine Cut diamonds are a type of vintage diamonds that date back to when gemstones were cut and polished by hand. These antique diamonds have a truly lovely look. 

They have a somewhat square shape with gentle rounded edges, quite similar to the cushion cut. Indeed, the Old Mine cut was the precursor to the cushion cut. As such, Old Mine cut diamonds are akin to cushion cuts, but with an antique flair.  

These stones are distinct for their broad facets that create unique brilliance, a noticeable culet, and distinctive proportions. Such diamonds are now undergoing a revival – many people are becoming increasingly drawn to the vintage aesthetic once more.

History of the Old mine cut diamonds

Diamonds cut in this style were prevalent during the 18th and 19th centuries when stones were cut and measured manually. These diamonds were commonly set in jewelry pieces of the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras, with many rings from those periods featuring Old mine cut stones. 

However, in 1919 the so-called diamond revolution occurred. Marcel Tolkowsky derived the mathematical formula for the modern round diamond known as the “ideal cut.” Stones cut according to this formula shone much brighter, looked more attractive, and had better symmetry. For a time, the fashion for the Old mine cut waned, only to return again a century later.  

An interesting story lies behind the name of this cut. Until the late 19th century, most diamonds were found in mines in Brazil and India. However, during the 1860s, more diamond discoveries were made in South Africa, sparking a boom in Africa’s diamond mining industry.

Thus, the term “old mine” refers to diamonds sourced from the older mines in India and Brazil, as opposed to the new discoveries in South Africa.

What are the visual characteristics of Old mine cut diamonds?

While Old mine cut diamonds share some similarities with modern cut diamonds, they have unique characteristics that set them apart from contemporary cuts. Examining these distinctive features reveals more about what makes Old mine cuts special.

Small table 

The table facet on these cuts is noticeably smaller compared to modern round brilliant and cushion cuts. This is evident when viewing the diamond from above.

Noticeable culet

A large culet facet is a trademark of Old mine cuts, clearly visible when looking down through the top of the stone. 

High crown & deep pavilion

Old mine cuts tend to have a tall crown and deep pavilion compared to other diamond cuts.

58 facets

With 58 total facets, including a sizable culet, the Old Mine cut has more facets than modern diamond cuts..

Imperfect symmetry 

These diamonds exhibit uneven and imprecise facets, a result of hand-cutting methods used at the time. This gives them an asymmetrical appearance.

Interestingly, Old mine cuts were designed to be viewed in candlelight, unlike today’s diamonds meant for bright lighting. Consequently, they have a softer, larger, more romantic glow.

The Old mine cut diamonds value 

The price for such diamonds, as with other modern cut diamonds, depends on various factors including the 4Cs: color, clarity, carat weight, and of course the cut. However, for a long time, Old mine cut diamonds were valued 10-15% less than diamonds with more contemporary cuts. For instance, a good quality 2 carat old mine cut diamond could be found starting at around $5,500. 

Until recently, Old mine cut diamonds and other antique diamonds were sold for slightly lower prices compared to modern cut stones. This is because they were frequently recut into modern shapes, which resulted in some loss of the original diamond material.  

Nevertheless, today the distinctive look of these diamonds adds a unique appeal to them. As a result, such diamonds often cost about the same as modern cut diamonds of comparable quality. 

Moreover, if an Old mine cut diamond has historical or cultural significance, it may even command a higher price relative to other comparable diamonds.

World famous Old mine cut diamonds

Cc
Le Grand Mazarin Diamond

Le Grand Mazarin Diamond is a remarkable 19.07 carat pink diamond that has decorated the crowns of French kings and queens for over 200 years. 

The Regent Diamond is a famous colorless diamond that was mined in the 17th century. In its uncut form, it weighed 426 carats, but was later fashioned into a 140.63 carat gem.  

The Cullinan II is a 317 carat diamond that is part of the Imperial State Crown of the British Monarchy. 

The Wittelsbach Diamond is a 35.56 carat historic blue diamond.

Old mine cut vs Old European cut

Upon studying the Old mine cut diamond, you will find references to the Old European cut diamond. These two diamond cuts are occasionally compared to one another. Though they share some common attributes, there are also key differences between them.

Age: The Old mine cut predates the Old European cut by over 100 years.  

Shape: The Old mine cut bears more resemblance to the modern cushion cut, whereas the Old European cut has more in common with the round brilliant cut. 

Culet: The culet on the Old mine cut tends to be much larger and is typically visible through the table with the naked eye.

Proportions: The Old mine cut has a slightly shallower depth compared to the Old European cut.  

Fire: The Old mine cut and Old European cut exhibit different optical performance, meaning the way they reflect light and produce flashes of color contrast differently.

Conclusion

Original Old mine cut diamonds are no longer made, so finding them can be more challenging than modern diamonds. The key factor is their limited availability.

This is atypical, but with Old mine cut diamonds, the certificate and details in it are not nearly as crucial as for contemporary diamonds. These gems have asymmetry, flaws and other attributes unacceptable in quality modern diamonds. However, for antique stones, this is not the primary consideration. It is better to prioritize your own tastes and the allure of these gems for you personally.

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