Old Mine Cut Diamonds: Everything You Need to Know
Today we are looking at a diamond cut that dates back to an era when diamonds were cut and polished by hand – the old mine cut diamond, also known as the “miner’s cut”, or as many call it in the modern day, an antique cushion cut diamond. For our vintage and antique jewelry lovers, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about the very special and rare old mine cut diamond. Additionally, we are also going to show you an old mine cut diamond engagement ring that will blow your mind. The centerpiece is a whopping 10 carats and it is of inimitable quality.
WHAT IS AN OLD MINE CUT DIAMOND
Old mine cut diamonds are essentially the antique version of modern cushion cut diamonds. They have a square to rectangular shape with soft corners and a very charming, warm look that only an antique diamond has. This iconic diamond of the past was cut entirely by hand. Unlike modern diamonds, which are cut and polished with high-tech equipment. Because of this, every old mine cut diamond is one-of-a-kind.
Before we get into specifics on how they look, let’s take you back to the beginning…
History of old mine cut diamonds
Old mine cut diamonds were the most popular diamond cut in the 18th and 19th century. They were used in a wide range of diamond rings and jewelry during the Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian eras.
Like all diamonds of this time, old mine cuts were cut and measured entirely by hand. The beauty of the cut depended completely on the cutter’s skill and perception of proportions, appearance and beauty.
The old mine cut diamond remained in favor until the late 19th century when the old European cut was introduced. The old European cut was the transitional diamond cut between the old mine cut and the modern brilliant cut.
Nowadays, both old mine cut and old European cut diamonds are highly sought after as they were the two most famous diamond cuts in history.
Where did the name “old mine cut” come from?
The old mine cut, which is also called the miner’s cut, is a diamond cutting technique that started around the same time as the discovery of the famous South African mines. For those who don’t know, the discovery of diamond-rich South African mines enabled diamonds to become more affordable and thus ubiquitous around the world. The name “old mine cut” referred to squarish or rectangular shape diamonds with candescent sparkle that were sourced from older mines, such as Indian and Brazilian mines, rather than the then-new South African mines, hence the name “old”.
Today, we refer to antique diamonds with specific characteristics as old mine cuts.
WHAT DOES AN OLD MINE CUT DIAMOND LOOK LIKE?
The overall shape of an old mine cut is similar to modern cushion cuts, but there are some key differences in the aesthetics that give them a unique and easily identifiable appearance.
Here are some important visual characteristics of the old mine cut:
- Smaller Table: Old mine cuts have a smaller table, which is most noticeable when viewed from the top, especially if placed next to a modern brilliant cushion cut diamond.
- Large, Prominent Culet: Old mine cuts have a large culet. From a top view, the culet is visible through the table, unlike modern brilliants, which gives old mine cuts a very distinct appearance.
- High Crown & Deep Pavilion: Old mine cuts have a high crown, which is the upper part of the diamond, and a deep pavilion, which is the lower part of the diamond. When looking at an old mine cut diamond that has been set into the ring, you can see the crown is very high, much higher than most modern brilliants.
- Small Facets on the Lower Half: While the pavilion is deep, old mine cuts have facets that are shorter on the lower half. This is mainly because of the large culet.
- 58 facets: A commonality with modern brilliants and old European cuts is the old mine cut has 58 facets (including the large culet).
Overall, old mine cuts have imperfect symmetry. You will notice asymmetrical features. It is a given due to the diamonds being eyed and cut by hand. Furthermore, when placed next to a modern diamond, you can see the proportions of an old mine cut are big and bulky. However, this is actually deliberate since diamonds of this time were to be viewed under candlelight, and this sizable structure gave old mine cuts a special, warm appearance with a mellow romantic glow that people adored.
OLD MINE VS OLD EUROPEAN DIAMOND
Because the old mine cut and the old European cut are both antique diamond cuts that have been receiving a lot of attention in the jewelry industry this past decade, they are often compared. And although they share some commonalities, such as their 58 facets, there are some important distinctions to note, besides the age (old Europeans came into existence almost one century after old mine cuts).
Here are the visual differences in the cuts for your reference:
Shape. Old European cut diamonds have a round shape like modern round brilliant diamonds. Old mine cuts have a square or rectangular shape with soft edges like that of a modern cushion cut diamond.
Culet. Both antique diamond cuts have noticeable culets. However, the old mine cut is larger and it can be seen with the naked eye through the table of the diamond.
Proportions. The old European cut diamond has a heavier crown with a smaller table, whereas the old mine cut is more shallow with a larger culet and shorter pavilion facets.
Fire. Both diamonds have a softer, less brilliant appearance than modern brilliant diamonds. The two antique diamond cuts display a different kind of fire, through color and contrast patterns. Each is special in their own way. However, they are subtle and less attention grabbing in terms of light performance than what we see from diamonds of today.
OLD MINE CUT VS MODERN CUSHION CUT
While the old mine cut is often called an antique cushion cut diamond, the only real similarity is the shape. When comparing old mine cuts to modern cushion cut diamonds, you can see that the culet of the old mine cut is always visible through the table. Moreover, they will often have a table that is much smaller.
On top of that, the crown and pavilion is higher and deeper on the antique counterpart, at least most of the time, and the perimeter is a bit oblong.
On a more meaningful front, old mine cuts were never mass produced, unlike modern cushion cuts. That makes each one entirely original. Diamond cutters spent countless hours making sure each diamond had maximum brilliance. This is what gives them so much appeal today. If you find a diamond ring or jewelry with an old mine cut diamond, you can be sure it is the only one cut that exact way.
DO OLD MINE DIAMONDS SPARKLE?
While old mine cut diamonds do not have the same brilliance, fire and scintillation as a modern brilliant cut diamond, they most definitely sparkle. In fact, they have a very unique sparkle. It is a warmer, softer, more subtle sparkle. It’s not in your face, but their bulky proportions radiate beautifully in different light conditions. They call it an “inner fire”, which modern brilliants simply don’t have.
Note: Inner fire looks like a bright and dark, checkerboard-esque flash of light
ARE OLD MINE CUT DIAMONDS RARE?
Old mine cuts are much rarer than modern brilliant diamonds. After all, old mine cut diamonds are no longer being made and modern brilliants are mass produced. Old mine cut diamonds make their way to jewelry stores through estate sales.
All in all, there are still plenty of them out there, considering a diamond lasts a very, very long time and they are passed down generation to generation. Nevertheless, they will be a lot harder to come by than modern brilliants.
When did old mine cut diamonds stop being made?
Old mine cut diamonds fell out of favor in the 19th century after the old European cut diamond came about. So, most of the old mine cut diamonds on the market will date anywhere from the 18th to early-19th century. From then on, they were very rarely made.
ARE OLD MINE DIAMONDS WORTH MORE?
It really depends on the grade of the diamond and its size. Because of the increase in demand for antique diamonds, you can command a hefty sum for old mine cuts of high quality. Many collectors are willing to pay the price. However, old mine cuts with poorer cut grades will be less valuable than a modern brilliant. Especially since it is a used diamond purchased from an estate.
Overall, old mine cut diamonds vary in prices just like modern brilliant cut diamonds. Old mine cut diamonds will be valued based on their color, clarity, and carat weight. Unlike modern brilliants, however, they will not be judged on asymmetry, as that is expected with hand-cut diamonds.
Generally speaking, most sell for similar prices as modern brilliants of equivalent quality…
0.5-0.7 ct = $1,800-$2,000
1-1.4 ct = $2,700-$4,000
1.5-1.99 ct = $4,000-$5,200
2-2.99 ct = $5,900-$7,200
The higher you go, the more significant the price jumps. For a large, 5+ carat old mine cut diamond, you are going to spend a large sum of money.
This 10 carat old mine cut diamond engagement ring at Raymond Lee Jewelers in Boca Raton is priced very reasonably at $100,000. To find an old mine cut diamond of this quality and size is ultra rare.
ADVANTAGES OF GETTING AN OLD MINE DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING?
- An old mine cut diamond is extremely unique. You will be hard-pressed to find another woman with an old mine cut diamond engagement ring.
- The fire of an antique cushion cut diamond is special. It has what they call an “inner fire”, which makes it stand out from all other diamonds, especially modern brilliants.
- They can be a good value for money as they are pre-owned. Pre-owned diamonds, even some antique diamonds, don’t have to deal with the high mark ups that big box retailers put on “new” diamonds. That said, if it is a large old mine cut diamond, the rarity factor comes into play and the price will reflect that.
- They are environmentally friendly, as you are buying a diamond that has been in circulation for more than a hundred years. You are not buying a diamond that was just made, which helps propel the continuation of diamond mining. And, as you may know, diamond mining does have impact on the environment because soil, water, and air surrounding mines become polluted.
- It’s antique! They have history and meaning that new modern brilliants simply don’t have.
- Increasingly more valuable. Old mine cut diamonds are becoming even more rare, as some diamond cutting companies buy old mine cut diamonds of lower quality and recut them into modern brilliants. This is making the value of old mine cut diamonds rise.
All in all, if you have a proclivity for old things and you appreciate being unique, an old mine cut diamond engagement ring is perfect for you. It may be more subtle in appearance, but it is far more grander in history and meaning.
18K WHITE GOLD 10.09CT ANTIQUE CUSHION DIAMOND HALO ENGAGEMENT RING
This 18k white gold 10.09ct old mine cut antique cushion diamond halo engagement ring from Raymond Lee Jewelers in Boca Raton is one of the most impressive old mine cut diamond rings you will ever find. It is absolutely breathtaking and shockingly massive. With this resting on your finger, you will drop the jaw of anyone in your presence.
The diamond is cape colored. So, it has a slightly yellow hue to it, like most old mine cut diamonds do. It is SI3 graded by GIA, and, of course, it comes with a GIA certificate.
Surrounding the antique cushion cut miner’s cut diamond is a halo of modern round brilliants. As such, this ring mixes the old with the new. There are also diamonds all along the band. With exception to the underside, in case you need to resize the ring.
The round brilliant diamonds are G/H in color and SI1 in clarity. They add a different kind of sparkle to the engagement ring. This creates a combined light performance that is out of this world. The contrast between the old mine cut diamond and the new round brilliant diamonds is unbelievably stunning.
Altogether, this ring is huge, unique and highly fashionable. If you love vintage and you like BIG, this is the ring for you.