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Vintage Beauty: Old Mine Cut Diamonds

Since diamonds were discovered, people have been trying out different ways to cut them in order to create the maximum impact. Old mine cut diamonds emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries as the most advanced cutting technique of its time. Earlier methods such as the table cut and rose cut were early attempts to create facets that would reflect light. While these early cuts possess their own beauty, we have a particular attachment to the old mine cut. We’ll take a look here at the history of old mine cut diamonds as well as the distinguishing features that make this cut unique.


Early attempts to cut diamonds relied on the shape. The natural shape of a diamond crystal is octahedral, like two pyramids joined together at their base. Once people figured out that another diamond could cut a diamond, they used it to slice through the base of the crystal to create two rudimentary gem shaped crystals.

In time, more sophisticated methods were discovered such as the table cut. With this technique the diamond crystal would be sliced in two as before but now rough facets would be applied to the edges. From here the next evolution was the rose cut where the base would remain flat and the rest of the crystal would be facetted up to a point.

rose cut gemstone

Following through, old mine cut diamonds became the next advancement in diamond cutting. Although old mine cut diamonds were the most widespread during the Georgian and Victorian eras, they do stretch over a wider time period. This is because from the 17th to early 20th century, diamond cutting was done by hand. This arduous process was made a bit easier by following the natural shape of the crystal. As a result, each old mine cut diamond was one of a kind and had a slightly elongated cushion shape.

Distinctive Features of Old Mine Cut Diamonds

Elongated Cushion Shape:

The elongated cushion shape of the old mine cut diamond is always one of a kind because each one was hand cut. The soft, rounded corners and larger facets combine to give the diamond a very unique look.

High Crown and Small Table

The crown area of the diamond refers to the material above the girdle. The high crown of an old mine cut diamond also results in the increase in depth of the entire stone. The carat weight of a old mine cut diamond will be higher vs a modern brilliant cut of comparable diameter size. Another distinctive feature of old mine cut diamonds is the small table. The table is the flat area on the top surface of the stone. Compared to modern cuts, old mine cut diamonds have a smaller table size.

old mine cut diamonds diagram

Large Facets

Finally, old mine cut diamonds typically feature larger facets compared to modern cuts. These facets create the light reflection or the “fire” of the gemstone. Because the facets and the crown are larger than modern cuts, an old mine cut will often have a charming chunkier or rougher over all vintage look.

Old Mine Cut Diamonds vs Modern Diamond Cuts

Brilliant Cut Diamonds

The modern brilliant cut diamonds, also known as round brilliant, gained popularity in the early 20th century. They are known for exceptional sparkle and brilliance due to their precise symmetry, optimal proportions, and greater number of facets. Unlike the old mine cut, brilliant cut diamonds have a uniformly round shape.

European Cut Diamonds

The European cut diamonds were the next evolution after the old mine cut and were prominent in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  There is also something called a transitional cut which are the stones reflecting the transition from old mine cut to European cut. A European cut has a similar number of facets to the old mine cut but it has a more uniform round shape, although not as uniform as a modern brilliant cut.

Single Cut Diamonds

Single cut diamonds are another antique cut that originated in the 17th century. They were popular during the Art Deco and Edwardian eras. Single cut diamonds feature a limited number of facets, usually only 17 or 18. They were commonly used as accent stones rather than center stones. They were also usually less expensive than modern brilliant cuts because less facets needed to be cut. However, the limited number of facets means single cuts lack the brilliance of the old mine or brilliant cut diamonds.

Use in Modern Jewellery

If you are looking for an old mine cut diamond for your jewellery piece the first thing to know is they are rare. Modern diamond cutters are not using the old mine cut method anymore. Which means there are no new old mine cut diamonds being produced. The only way to incorporate an old mind cut diamond in a new jewellery piece is to reuse an heirloom diamond. In some cases, if you’re lucky, your family will have one! If not, it will require sourcing possibilities from antique dealers or perhaps a diamond supplier who had picked one up along their travels. Hopefully now that old mine cut diamonds are becoming popular once again we will see more options in the market.

We have had the privilege to work with many heirloom old mine cut diamonds when reusing our clients jewellery. We find that old mine cut diamonds lend themselves very well to antique or vintage inspired designs. Even though the technique is old fashioned and done without machinery, you’d be surprised at how much they sparkle!

author avatar
Suzanne Co-Owner
Suzanne is one of the founders of Posy Fine Jewellery. She received a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and Anthropology from the University of Toronto before training as a goldsmith at George Brown College.


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