Mirror, mirror, on the wall what’s the most brilliant diamond of all?
No, it’s not antique cut diamonds. Sorry ladies and gents. But don’t fret - antique cut diamonds have their own special shine, the kind which makes antique cut diamonds a beloved choice throughout centuries, and more.
Antique cut diamonds are those cut using diamond cutting techniques dated before 1930. It’s a term encompassing centuries of cutting technique evolutions, underpinned by the use of hands - instead of machines - to perform the cutting.
That being said, antique cut doesn’t refer to a diamond style or shape, but to specific cutting technique. Since it’s handwork, the facets in an antique cut are bulkier, larger and more asymmetrical. The resulting pieces glow like a candle, not like a ‘fire’.
That brilliant cut diamond you’ve seen on Instagram or Google? That’s a modern cut diamond, created with factory-like precision, tighter light patterns appearing like flashes of colors, and greater brilliance.
In the antique cut family, you’ll find the old mine cut, which dates back to 1700. An old mine cut typically has a large culet, deep pavilion, small table, and a high crown. In terms of shape, the modern cushion cut comes closest to it.
There’s also the old European cut which resembles the modern brilliant cut diamond with its round shape. It differs from the brilliant cut diamond with it’s open culet, deep pavilion, small table and tall crown.
You’ll also find the rose cut diamond which dates back to the 1500s.
But which cutting technique holds the title the ‘oldest diamond cut’?
*Drumroll* It’s the polki cut, a diamond cutting technique from India, the motherland of all diamonds. This cut supposedly goes back 3,000 years. Polki cuts feature a rough, often included diamond, with a few facets on top. The stone is generally small with a flat bottom, similar to diamond slices, but thicker. Though it lacks brilliance and fire, polki cuts do give a soft sheen. They’re often used in multiples rather than a solitaire like the modern brilliant cut diamond.
How about our own antique cut diamonds, you ask?
Well if you ask jewelers, you might hear a heavy sigh on how antique cut diamonds are so rare nowadays, and most of them exist as heritage pieces.
But guess what: since we source our diamonds directly from artisanal miners in Borneo, we get to be involved in deciding the final cut of each stone. By taking the rough to a local cutter we trust, we commission them to cut each stone based on our cutting preference, and that includes our own hand cut diamonds (yes, *happy gasp*).
So here are few reasons to consider an
or shall I say, timeless cut:
Cutting techniques were used to maximize color and lightplay, not brilliance. They have larger facets and diffuse more light, so what you’ll get is a more mellow glow and softer brilliance. In other words, antique cut diamonds give a softer, Pmore romantic feel. Plus, they’re also designed to perform well under dim lighting, like for that proposal dinner.
Older diamonds tend to be chunkier with less faceting, and thus, less cutting. When cutters facet a stone, they’re essentially polishing bits off the diamond. Back then cutters and traders tried to minimize their waste and maximize what they have, leading to chunkier diamond cuts. These days diamonds are cut with higher standards of precision, so that more of the diamond is polished off. The remaining diamond dust is sometimes sold for industrial uses.
What can I say - I’m a sucker for anything with an interesting story. With post consumer antique diamonds, be happy you’re owning a heritage piece someone else used to so cherish. With newer diamonds cut in an old style, take pride in owning a piece with a long history to tell.
Nowadays, computers offer cutters a preview of the best faceting to work on for each stone to maximize its brilliance. This technology also guarantees cutters with more precise and uniform results. On the other hand, antique cut diamonds play on the unique characteristics of each stone. In other words, you’re owning a piece no one else has.
More glitter doesn’t necessarily mean more happiness. Being the humble sister of a more flashy diamond, antique cut diamonds don’t call for attention. They blend into the design, using it to make the piece standout as a whole, as opposed to making itself the spotlight. Just a tad of glow can do wonders, and that’s the magic of antique cut diamonds.