What is an Old Mine Cut Diamond?

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While shopping for authentic vintage engagement rings, you’re bound to come across old mine cut diamonds. These antique diamonds feature a squarish shape with soft, curved edges, similar to modern cushion cut diamonds. Old mine cuts were popular during the 18th and 19th centuries.

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The proportions of old mine cut diamonds vary greatly from modern cut diamonds. Old mine cut diamonds have a smaller table, high crown, and larger facets than modern cut diamonds – 58 facets total. (Modern brilliant cut diamonds have 57-58 facets.) These bulkier proportions had a purpose – they were chosen so that the diamonds would sparkle under candlelight. However, old mine cut diamonds will not sparkle as brilliantly as modern cut diamonds. Because old mine cut diamonds were cut by eye and hand, each diamond carries a unique charm – they often have uneven facets and an asymmetrical shape. 

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See the circle at the center of an old mine cut’s table? This is an easy way to identify an old mine cut. The circle is a result of the old mine cut’s large culet. The culet is the very bottom of a diamond’s pavilion. When a diamond has a culet, it affects the stone’s light performance and lets light escape through the bottom of the stone, creating a dark circle. Most modern cut diamonds don’t have a culet, and when they do, it’s very small. 

Where did the name Old Mine Cut come from?

Around the late 1800s, diamonds predominantly became sourced from newer African mines instead of the older Brazilian and Indian mines. The term “old mine cut” was originally used to indicate a diamond sourced from Brazilian or Indian mines that was cut to have a squarish shape and produce some sparkle. When African mines started to produce more diamonds of better color quality, these diamonds were cut in the same fashion and were also called old mine cuts.

Are old mine cut diamonds more valuable?

Diamonds are no longer cut in the old mine fashion, making them very rare. There are some collectors who are willing to pay a hefty sum for diamonds from different eras. However, the value of a diamond is also based on its 4 Cs (cut, color, carat, and clarity) and many old mine cut diamonds have poorer cut grades than modern diamonds, which can decrease their value. If you own an old mine cut diamond, the best way to understand its value is to take it to get appraised.

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