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Old Mine Cut Diamond vs European Cut: The Timeless Charm of Antique Diamond Cuts

by Luis Navarro
Last updated on August 17, 2023

Diamonds have captured hearts and minds for centuries. While their raw form is stunning, the true magnificence of a diamond lies in its meticulous cutting and polishing. From the earliest shapes to the sophisticated round brilliant cut diamonds, diamond cutting has always been crucial to jewelry craftsmanship. In this blog post, we will focus on two prominent antique diamond cuts: the old mine cut diamond vs European cut.

Understanding Antique Diamond Cuts

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To fully appreciate an antique diamond cut, it is essential to explore its historical context. Diamond cutting originated in India around 2,000 years ago, where early lapidaries experimented with polishing rough diamonds for a smooth, shiny finish. In the 14th century, European diamond cutters began shaping diamonds into point-cut diamonds with a rounded, elongated shape and a few facets. It was in the 17th century that significant advancements were made, leading to the development of the table cut and the rose cut.

Diamond-cutting techniques evolved significantly during the 18th and 19th centuries. As diamond sources shifted, cutters experimented with new designs, creating the old mine cut. This was the precursor to the modern brilliant cut, and the European cut further improved it in the early 20th century. These innovations paved the way for the modern round brilliant cut we know today.

Despite the dominance of modern diamonds in the diamond market, antique diamond cuts such as the old mine cut and European cut are experiencing a renaissance in contemporary jewelry. Their unique charm, vintage appeal, and ethical considerations make them sought-after choices.

Old Mine Cut Diamonds: A Journey to the Past

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The old mine cut has a distinctive and romantic appearance, featuring a squarish or cushion diamond shape and gently rounded corners. It has a high crown with several facets that contribute to its brilliance and sparkle. One of its key features is a large noticeable culet, which adds to its charm. Unlike modern brilliant cut diamonds, the old mine cut prioritizes a unique pattern of light and dark flashes, commonly known as a “chunky” or “crushed ice” appearance.

In antique jewelry, old mine cut diamonds are often set in intricate and ornate designs that reflect their time’s craftsmanship and artistic sensibilities. These diamonds complement the vintage aesthetics of the settings, creating an enchanting blend of beauty and history. The “chunky” light pattern and gentle glow of old mine cut diamonds lend an air of elegance and sophistication to any piece of jewelry, making them particularly cherished by those with a penchant for antique and vintage styles.

European Cut Diamonds: Classic Elegance Redefined

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As diamond-cutting technology improved during the 19th century, cutters sought to maximize the gem’s brilliance and fire. This led to the development of the European cut. It retained the basic shape of the old mine cut while introducing modifications to enhance its sparkle.

Characterized by a round shape, an old European cut diamond features a larger table (the flat top facet) than the old mine cut. It also has a smaller crown (the portion above the girdle), and a single-cut pavilion (the part below the girdle). The larger table and shallower crown compared to the old mine cut allow for increased light reflection. This gives European cut diamonds a brighter and more brilliant appearance.

These diamonds are often set in intricate, handcrafted designs that embody the craftsmanship of the Art Nouveau and Edwardian eras. The diamonds’ ability to refract light dazzlingly while retaining a sense of subtlety adds to their appeal in heirloom jewelry. As a result, they are ideal for those who appreciate understated elegance and timeless sophistication.

Differences Between an Old Mine Cut Diamond vs European Cut

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The main difference between an old mine cut diamond vs European cut is their facet arrangements and shapes. Old mine cut diamonds have a squarish or cushion-shaped outline with rounded corners, a higher crown, a small table, and a large culet. European Cut diamonds are round with a larger table, smaller crown, and single-cut pavilion, maximizing brilliance and symmetry.

Their respective facet arrangements directly affect their sparkle and optical performance. Old mine cut diamonds have larger, irregular facets creating a “crushed ice” appearance, while European cut diamonds have a symmetrical arrangement of smaller facets, maximizing brilliance and light reflection.

The Appeal of Antique Diamond Cuts in Modern Jewelry

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In recent years, there has been a noticeable and significant trend towards incorporating antique diamond cuts, such as the old mine cut and European cut, in modern engagement rings. This resurgence is driven by several factors that resonate with today’s consumers.

For instance, many people desire engagement rings that are unique and timeless. Antique diamond cuts offer a sense of history and individuality that modern cuts cannot match. These vintage-inspired rings are romantic and classic yet still appeal to modern tastes.

Moreover, engagements and weddings hold deep emotional significance. Antique diamond cuts carry a sense of sentimentality and meaning with their storied pasts and connections to previous generations. Couples often view these cuts as symbolic of enduring love and the continuation of family legacies.

Factors to Consider When Purchasing Diamond Jewelry

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When purchasing diamond jewelry, it’s essential to assess their quality using the traditional 4Cs – carat, color, clarity, and cut:

Carat Weight

Carat refers to the weight of a diamond, with one carat equaling 200 milligrams. It directly influences the diamond’s size and often affects its price.


The color grading scale of a diamond evaluates its degree of colorlessness or color tint. The scale ranges from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown), with higher grades indicating more valuable diamonds.


Internal or external flaws are evaluated to determine a diamond’s clarity grade. A higher grade indicates fewer imperfections, as this enhances the diamond’s brilliance.


The cut grade is based on how well a diamond’s facets interact with light, affecting its brilliance and sparkle. A diamond that is cut well reflects light optimally, making it more visually appealing.

Old Mine and European Cut Diamonds at Clean Origin

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For those seeking a piece that tells a story and carries the charm of the past into the present, antique diamond cuts offer an enchanting and meaningful choice.

These two diamond-cutting styles originated during different historical periods and possess distinct characteristics that set them apart from modern cut diamonds. Antique diamonds’ individualistic and vintage allure makes them charming despite not having the precision of contemporary cuts.

If you are captivated by the allure of antique diamond cuts, we invite you to schedule a virtual appointment with one of our team members or visit a showroom in a city near you today!