What Is an Old Mine Cut Diamond?

It's likely that you'll come across old mine cut diamonds when you're shopping for vintage engagement rings. Diamonds in this form have a distinct squarish shape and soft, curved edges, similar to modern cushion cuts.
While old mine cuts were popular during the 18th and 19th centuries, they are not as popular today, especially for sparkle enthusiasts. Also known as "grandfather to old cuts," these are less refined diamonds than the ones we know today. These diamonds were crafted by hand with the crude tools of the time. Octahedral shaped diamond rough crystals (the most common shape) were used because they could be cut by grinding off one point to form the table and putting a few crude facets on the crown and pavilion, and polishing just enough to slightly round the corners.
Ritani 1RZ1321 French-Set Halo Diamond Engagement Ring
Ritani 1RZ1321 French-Set Halo Diamond Engagement Ring
Below we explore the old mine cut diamond, its unique appearance and value, as well as its contemporary alternatives.

Where Did The Name "Old Mine Cut" Come From?

There is quite a history attached to old mine cut diamonds. They are thought to date back to the early 18th Century when diamonds were cut and measured - all by hand.
Thus, the cutter's perception and skill played a critical role in the stone's appearance and proportion.
Indian and Brazilian diamonds remained the world's two main sources of diamonds used in jewelry throughout the 18th Century. In South Africa, however, more diamonds were discovered in the 1860s, leading to a boom in Africa's diamond mining industry.
"Old mine cut" used to be used for a diamond originating from a Brazilian or Indian mine that had a squarish shape and had some sparkle.
As African mines began to produce more diamonds of better color quality, these diamonds were cut into the same shapes, and were also known as old mine cuts.

What Does an Old Mine Cut Diamond Look Like?

In the past, mined diamonds were cut to maximize their carat weight and to shine in candlelight and gaslights rather than in the overhead light we see today. The diamond's facets are larger, the table is smaller, and the culet is quite obvious (if you look straight into the table of the diamond, its center will have a window).
Also, they are significantly taller from the side, so you won't get that low-profile look.
Each old mine cut diamond is unique in its own way, with chunky facets and asymmetrical edges because they were shaped by eye and by hand. Many will have large naturals as well as chips and scratches from many decades of wear. Over the years many old mine cut diamonds have been re-cut into newer versions, including the modern round brilliant.
As well, they are typically found in warmer colors (J-K range), which look at home with yellow gold. The soft look is part of the appeal, so if the idea is not exciting to you, it might not be for you. Instead, we’d recommend exploring its successors.

Old Mine Cut Diamond Versus Cushion Cut Diamonds

For those with your heart set on this vintage diamond style but don’t wish to source, you’re in luck. The old mine cut is cited as the precursor of the modern cushion cut. Old mine cut diamonds have a squarish shape and 58 facets, just like today's cushion cut diamonds. That's about it when it comes to parallels, but it does a fantastic job of capturing the charm of bygone eras.
An old mine cut has a different shape, as well as a different proportions. As mentioned, the taller and bulkier proportions were the result of rather crude fashioning of a diamond octohedron. This proportioning worked well for the time before overhead lighting, with impressive fire being its defining light performance characteristic.
Also known as the pillow cut due to its shape, the cushion cut style has been around for almost two centuries. It wasn't until the turn of the 20th century that round cuts became the most popular choice when it came to engagement rings.
There are various cushion cut diamonds with different length-to-width ratios and facet patterns, allowing you to choose the perfect aesthetic combination for you. An abundance of fire combined with more brilliance than old mine cut diamonds makes cushion cut loose diamonds a stunning and eye-catching sight.
For some shoppers there is nothing more enchanting than a cushion cut diamond, whether it is an antique style or a modern round brilliant diamond cut. An engagement ring with a cushion cut diamond has a timeless elegance; the pillowy shape of the diamond is perfectly complemented by vintage details and warm tone metals.

Old Mine Cut Diamonds Versus European Cut Diamonds

Both old mine cut and European cut diamonds are difficult to find today as many older diamond cuts have been updated by re-cutting. Old mine cuts tend to be more squarish and have larger culets. Old European cuts are more refined, have a rounder shape, and a smaller culet. They benefited from being produced by more advanced diamond technologies in the late 1800s.
View our ‘Expert Guide To Old European Cut Diamonds’ to learn more about this heritage diamond shape and its modern-day counterpart, the round brilliant.

Are Old Mine Cut Diamonds Valuable?

It is very rare to find diamonds cut in the old mine fashion anymore. This makes them very desirable to collectors who are willing to spend a premium for diamonds originating from different eras.
The value of a diamond, regardless of its era, is determined by the 4 Cs (cut, color, carat, and clarity), and many existing old mine cut diamonds are lower grade than modern diamonds, which can significantly reduce their value. The finer quality old miners were first to get recut as the increase in value resulting from the updating is the greatest.
It is best to have an old mine cut diamond appraised in order to understand its value. In terms of cons, it is simple: this cut of diamond simply doesn't sparkle like the modern diamond cuts we’ve come to know and love. Besides, they are notoriously difficult to source and you will pay a premium, even though they may be lower quality.
Therefore, if antiquity value at all costs is not what you're looking for, this diamond cut is probably not right for you. Fortunately, there are many ways you can emulate that vintage charm through modern means. Opting for yellow gold, cushion cuts and ornate designs are a solid place to start.

Get The Old Mine Cut Style But With All The Sparkle

Modern technology has allowed us to take the cushion cut in many interesting directions, yet its resurgence can be attributed in part to its vintage appeal. With designer brands like Tacori and Verragio reviving the ornate setting styles of the past, a cushion cut diamond can be a stunning focal point.
Personal taste is the foundation of any diamond buying decision. Below are some of our favorite timeless vintage-style engagement rings that capture the essence of an old mine cut diamond, but accompanied by the contemporary sparkle you desire.
Tacori 57-2CU Sculpted Crescent Elevated Crown for Cushion Diamond Engagement Ring
Tacori 57-2CU for Cushion Diamond Engagement Ring
This cushion cut Tacori Engagement ring is dripping in diamonds, from top to bottom. Marquis-shaped designs along the band create a sparkly, mega diamond appearance. At the crown of the center stone, this ring has its true beauty. This center diamond's cushion cut is unique with its open and airy look, bursting with light with every heartbeat.
Verragio Parisian DL-107CU Halo Diamond Engagement Ring with Rose Gold Wraps
Verragio DL-107CU Halo Diamond Engagement Ring
Even though any vintage-inspired ring gives off an antiquated impression, the shape of the ring itself is what gives the piece the definition of being vintage. Intricate scrolls, beautiful filigree work, and rows of pavé diamonds flank the sides of this ring and encircle the center stone for a stunning look.
Better yet, the Paradiso Collection was designed specifically with comfort in mind. Each unique ring's interior features an elegant scrolling design for everyday comfort, which is unmatched by any other design. Who said you need to suffer for beauty!
Katie Pave Diamond Engagement Ring
Katie Pave Diamond Engagement Ring
A heavenly combination of a sleek shank mixed with the elegance of diamond pavé. An impressive 52 round brilliant melee ensures that whichever way you turn your hand it’s like an icy road of diamonds leading to the simply magnificent cushion cut in the center.
An eternity of sparkle, it takes all the vintage charm and refreshes it delicately.

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