Looking into antique diamond cuts ? Then you might be wondering whether you should go for the old mine cut or the old European cut. Wonder no more as today we’re taking a look at these charming diamonds and walking you through their key differences and similarities.. Read on !
Old European vs old mine cut
Old European cuts are more modern than old mine cuts, and they tend to be a bit whiter with less inclusions than old mine cuts. Old mine cuts have a bit more fire than old European cuts due to their cut style. Another distinction is their shape, both are hand-cut but the old European is rounded while the old mine cut has a squarish shape similar to the cushion cut.
Both the old European and old mine cut are antiques, meaning they have open culets, high crowns and small tables. They are not cut for brilliance, they are cut for fire and dispersion. They are a bit lopsided most of the time, since they are hand-cut, which leads to poorer optics than modern diamonds.
What is the old European diamond cut ?
The old European cut is the predecessor to the modern round brilliant cut. The old Euro cut, or sometimes OEC, is generally cut deeper than a round brilliant, has an open culet, and a very small table with a high crown.
The old European cut was very popular in the later 1800 to early 1900s, and it can still be seen in many Art Deco rings of the time. These diamonds tend to be warmer in color than modern diamonds, but cooler than old mine cuts.
What is the old mine diamond cut ?
Old mine cut diamonds are a very old diamond cut style that was popular in the Georgian and Victorian era, so from the early 18th century to the late 19th, right before the old European cuts took on.
The old mine cut is called so because, at the time, it was the usual cut applied to diamonds that came from the older mined, the ones in India and Brazil. The newer mines (at the time) were the African mines, which are the current ones producing the most diamonds. But we digress, old mine cuts were the way Indian and Brazilian diamonds looked.
The overall shape was neither squared nor rounded, it was more like a 1:1 cushion ratio, with some versions being almost completely round. The table was small, the culet was open, the cut was deep and overall the diamond was better at showing more rainbow then white light.
While you might assume the only difference between an old mine cut and an old Euro cut is the difference the truth is they’re more different than that. Have a look.
Old European cuts are rounded, old mine cuts are square-ish
Indeed the first and most noticeable difference is the shape, the old Euro cut is rounded while the old mine cut is square-ish. This is because the old mine cut was derived from the old mazarin and peruzzi cut, which both followed the diamond’s octahedral growth pattern, to make cutting it simpler. As the diamond cutting stills progressed and became better, the diamonds could get rounder girdles/outlines, so the old mine was an improvement upon the previous cuts
The same way, the old European cut is an improvement on the old mine cut in terms of getting a rounder shape. Indeed the old Euro cut is derived from the old mine cut, with a generally smaller culet and a larger table. But even so you’ll find plenty of old euro cuts that are a bit lopsided or not perfect circles. That is the nature of hand-cut diamonds, and all antique cut diamonds suffer from this.
Read also: Diamond Girdles & How To Protect Them
Old mine cuts are older than old European cuts
The old mine cut was the predecessor of the old European cut, so any old mine cuts you see are about 100-150 years older than any old Euro cut you see. If you’re someone who want the most antique diamond possible, then the old mine cut is the clear winner here. There is more history to an old mine cut than an old Euro cut, simply because it’s been through a few more generations and comes from a different time period.
Of course, as the old mine cut diamonds are older there may also be fewer loose ones. Most of them are already part of someone’s jewelry, and most family heirlooms at this point. So old mine cuts come with some extra prestige than old European cuts. though the Euro cuts are nothing to sneeze at either.
Keep in mind that the older a diamond is, the higher the chances of it being a prized family possession. If you’re planning to upgrade it you could need the approval of the family. Re-faceting it would completely wipe away its history.
Old European cuts tend to be whiter, clearer than old mine cuts
Old mine cuts generally come from the older mines, the ones in India and Brazil. These mines usually put out warmer diamonds, and sometimes diamonds with more inclusions than we’d wear in modern times. That is simply the way the Indian and Brazil diamonds are, and there are plenty of whiter, clearer examples among them.
Old European cut diamonds were usually of African source, so they were overall whiter, and clearer. Both the old mine and old Euro diamonds are warmer than today’s modern brilliants, but the old European diamonds are still cooler and clearer than the old mine cuts (on average).
This is something you should be aware of when searching for the perfect diamond, since color and clarity do matter a lot. Does this mean all old mine cuts are warm ? No, but they are warm more often than old European cuts.
Both the old mine cut and the old Euro cut are antique cuts
Both the old mine and the old European cuts are antique cuts. This means several things.
First, it means they are hand-cut, so their proportions may be a bit off. After all, tools weren’t as great as the ones we have now, and diamond cutters had to rely on their eyes and sense of proportion to get the diamond looking good. The upside to this is antique diamonds have a special charm to them, knowing someone took the time to cut and polish each and every facet, even if it’s not perfect.
Second, antique diamonds do not sparkle like modern brilliant cuts. Oh they do sparkle and they are totally worth setting in jewelry, but they do this differently. Old mine and old European cuts have more fire (rainbow color) than brilliant (white color) and are generally deeper cuts than the modern brilliant. So do expect some sparkle, like more than in a step cut, but don’t expect a dazzling show because these diamonds are cut for maximum carat weight, not for optimal light performance.
And third, antique diamonds are indeed harder to find. If you or your loved one are looking for an antique diamond, you have to be patient. There is less demand for an antique cut diamond than a modern brilliant, so your jeweler will need some time to find you a diamond. Your best bet is to go to a specialized diamond store, one that carries mostly antique diamonds, since they should have a very good selection.
I’m the main author for jewelrymaterialguide.com. I started this site after we did tons of research before our wedding and noticed that there is information about rings, jewelry, and so on that is really hard to find on the internet.