Vintage Diamond Cuts: A Quick Guide

2014 jewelry trends

For those diamond shoppers who are obsessed with vintage style, or even for someone looking for a change from the common modern diamond cuts, vintage and antique shapes are an excellent alternative. There are several different vintage diamond cuts still on the market today. These include: point cuts, single cuts, rose cut diamonds, French cut, old mine cushion cuts, old European cuts, and Asschers. These antique diamond shapes are a throwback to as early as the Middle Ages, when diamond cutting was a new phenomenon.

If vintage diamond cuts are such a great alternative to modern shapes, then why aren’t they more widely advertised and sold? This is because diamond cutting priorities, tastes, and technology have changed over the years. Modern diamond shapes are cut to maximize sparkle, but vintage diamond cuts are meant to maximize carat weight. In today’s market, sparkle is still most shoppers’ first priority. Unless that changes, vintage diamond cuts will remain an unconventional choice.

Point Cut Diamonds

Point cut diamonds date back to the Middle Ages. Widely recognized as the first diamond cut, a point diamond is not actually “cut” at all, at least not by modern diamond cutting standards. Point cuts were created by keeping a diamond in a natural octahedron shape and polishing it to a point (hence the name). This way, the natural octahedral facets were more symmetrical. Improved symmetry plus a fine polish job combine in the point cut to create a much sparklier diamond.

 

Single cut diamond angles
A diagram of a single cut diamond from different angles. Photo credit: All About Gemstones.

Single Cuts

Also known as the eight cut, single cut diamonds traditionally have eight crown facets and eight pavilion facets. Single cuts, known for their octagonal shape, can be dated back to the 1300s. Today, single cuts have been modified to have a rounder shape, and they have more facets. They are often used in micropavé diamond jewelry, to enhance the sparkle of larger brilliant cut diamonds.

Rose Cut Diamonds

jennifer aniston yellow gold engagement ring

Originating in the mid-16th century, rose cut diamonds are named for their shape, which should resemble a rosebud in bloom. Rose cuts have triangular facets, but are circular in shape. It used to be the case that you could only find rose cut diamonds in antique pieces, but they have recently become more popular again. Jennifer Aniston’s massive yellow gold engagement ring features a rose cut diamond.

French Cuts

French cut diamond engagement ring
A French cut diamond engagement ring. Photo credit: Pricescope.

The French cut is used in both diamond and sapphire jewelry. These square-cut stones first gained popularity in the 1700s. Despite their name, French cut diamonds were not invented in France. However, historically they have been in higher demand in France than anywhere else. The French cut came back in style during the Art Deco period, known for its love of geometric shapes.

Old Mine / Cushion Cut Diamonds

 

cushion halo ring with matching wedding band

Popular in the early 18th century, old mine cuts are often confused with modern cushion cut diamonds. Today, some cushion cut diamonds are actually certified as “old mine brilliants”. Old mine cut diamonds are basically just cushion cuts with different proportions and fewer facets.

Old European Cuts

Old European cuts are known as being the predecessor of today’s ever-popular round brilliant. They are circular in shape, and quite similar to the old mine cut in terms of faceting. Because it is so close to the modern round brilliant cut, the old European shape is often described as the most “advanced” vintage diamond cut.

Asscher Cut Diamonds

baguette side stones on asscher cut engagement ring

In addition to cushion cuts, Asscher cut diamonds are a modern take on a vintage diamond shape. Created in 1902 by Joseph Asscher, the Asscher cut was the first patented “signature” diamond cut. The Asscher cut diamond has been one of the most popular diamond cuts since its invention. Today, Asscher cuts have less pronounced corners, more facets, and a larger table than they had when they were first developed.

Do you have any jewelry that features vintage diamond cuts? Would you purchase a vintage cut diamond, or stick to the modern shapes? Feel free to share photos, comments, and any additional questions in the comments below!