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Old Mine Cut Diamond: The Ultimate Guide

by Clean Origin
Last updated on October 22, 2022

Old mine cut diamonds have gained renewed interest as more people want vintage jewelry. These diamonds have a highly unique look with their squarish shape, smaller table, and curved edges. They resemble the cushion-cut diamond with an added vintage touch.

The Old Mine Cut Diamond in Detail

Old mine cut diamond ring.
Old mine cut diamond ring.

Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice about the old mine cut diamond is it has a small table. Another notable feature of these antique diamonds is the high crown and deep pavilion.

Old mine diamonds also have a large culet and short lower half facets. Two other interesting points about this jewelry are its asymmetrical features and imperfect facets.

History of the Old Mine Cut Diamond

Old mine cut diamonds were first made back in the 1800s.
Old mine cut diamonds were first made back in the 1800s.

Old mine cut diamonds were first made back in the 1800s. At the time, diamond cutters had to cut the diamonds by hand. They typically cut them into a squarish shape.

Old mine diamonds were prominent throughout the Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian eras. These antique diamonds kept their appeal up until the late 19th century. That was when the old European cut diamond gained popularity.

The diamonds had an “old mine cut” label to indicate they came from mines in Brazil and India. Golconda, India, was a mining city known for having great wealth and vast amounts of diamonds. India was the first large-scale source of old cut mine diamonds at the time.

Brazil would be the next primary source of old cut mine diamonds in 1724. They were first discovered near the modern city of Belo Horizonte.

India and Brazil would remain the primary sources of diamonds in jewelry until the 1860s. At the time, prospectors found diamonds in South Africa.

The finding led to increased diamond mining in Africa. By then, any diamond sourced from a country that used the old-mine cut style was an old-mine diamond.

Reasons to Buy Old Mine Cut Diamonds

One benefit of an old mine cut diamond: affordability.
One benefit of an old mine cut diamond: affordability.

One of the main benefits of buying an old mine cut diamond is they’re more affordable. They cost less because their quality tends to be lower than other diamonds.

Some of the most expensive modern cut diamonds tend to cost tens of thousands of dollars. The most costly old mine cut diamonds are around $5000, but the least expensive can cost only a few hundred dollars.

Old mine cut diamonds also make for a great antique-inspired engagement ring. It can stand out from the traditional, modern diamond engagement ring and bring some personality to your nuptials.

This type of diamond is also great for those who are into glowing jewelry. Many fans of this diamond find it to have a better shine than modern diamonds.

Additionally, old mine cut diamonds are much rarer than modern diamonds. Diamond companies are still producing modern diamonds while the old mine diamonds are no longer in production. You can be satisfied knowing you’re getting something extra special for that special someone.

Old mine cut diamonds are also a benefit to the earth. Jewelers can easily recycle and reuse these diamonds.

The Cons of Old Mine Cut Diamonds

Loose diamonds. Old mine cut diamond.
Loose diamonds.

As with most of the diamond industry, old and vintage diamonds can have a shady history.

The diamond industry is famous for its unethical practices. Several years ago, it came under scrutiny after unethical production practices came to light. The reality of many diamonds across history is that they are the result of poor working conditions and corruption.

In 2003, the creation of the Kimberley process called for better treatment of workers and more transparency in the industry. However, the same isn’t true of all vintage and antique diamonds.

Thankfully, lab grown diamonds are an ethical alternative. Companies like Clean Origin strive to bring their customers peace of mind with high standards for transparency and diamond quality. With a shorter supply chain, lab grown diamonds touch fewer hands and are 20-40% less expensive than mined diamonds.

If you’re on the hunt for an ethical engagement ring, Clean Origin has a wide selection for every taste.

How Many Old Mines Still Exist

Kimberly mine in Kimberly, South Africa.
Kimberley mine in Kimberley, South Africa.

A diamond that came to the market within the last 20 years is most likely laser-cut. One of the things that makes the old mine cut diamond exceptional is its handmade quality.

Machine-cut tend to all look the same. Hand-cut diamonds are sure to be unique.

But as things become more modern, there’s a good chance there aren’t as many old cut mine diamonds left. Many diamonds cutters are recutting them to look cleaner.

Still, people are starting to have more of a desire for a vintage diamond engagement ring. It will be unsurprising if old mine-cut diamonds make a comeback in the coming years.

How Old Is an Old Mine Cut

Old mine cut diamonds date back to the 1800s. Some sources even date them back to the 1700s. They were a part of the Victorian and Georgian eras of jewelry and have seen a recent resurgence with the popularity of the vintage engagement ring.

Old Mine Cut Diamond vs Old European Cut Diamond

Vintaage-inspired diamond ring--old mine cut diamond.
Vintaage-inspired diamond ring.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the old mine cut diamond and the old European cut diamond are the same. The characteristics and designs of the two diamonds are pretty similar. Old mine cut and old European cut are names that are used interchangeably.

The old European cut is viewed as a middle point between the old mine cut and modern brilliant-cut diamonds, which are an engagement ring staple today. Like the old mine cut diamond, the culet point of the old Europen cut diamond is replaced with a facet.

The facet allows for rays of light to shine through the diamond. It creates a subtle refractive color.

The old European cut diamond is similar to the brilliant-cut diamond in that it’s round with more equal facets. It also has a similar sparkle.

Old mine cut diamonds gained prominence in the eighteenth century. Old European cut diamonds were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Another difference to be aware of is that old mine cut diamonds have larger culet than the old Europen cut. The difference in shape and size causes these two diamonds to show contrasting patterns and colors differently.

Old Mine Cut vs Modern Round Brilliant Cut Diamond

Brilliant-cut solitaire.
Brilliant-cut solitaire.

The old mine cut diamond and the brilliant cut are different in many ways. The first big difference is the table of the diamonds, which is the top facet.

The table of these diamonds is 38% to 45% of the girdle diameter. The table of modern round brilliant diamonds is 38% to 45% of the diameter.

Culet Size

Another significant difference between these diamonds is the culet size. The culet is the bottom facet of a diamond. It’s a quick way for jewelers to identify diamonds as a modern or an antique diamond cut.

During the time period of the old mine cut diamond, no technology could make the bottom of the diamond have an exact pointed tip. As a result, the culet had a wider platform.

With today’s technology, machines can map diamonds and determine their shape. Jewelers use cutting wheels to shape the culet of modern round diamonds, meaning they have an exact pointed tip. The culets on modern diamonds are so small they’re often invisible to the naked eye.

Pavilion

Modern round brilliant cut stones have a pavilion that’s slanted at an angle that’s 42 percent of the diamond height. Additionally, in old mine cut diamonds, the pavilion slants deeper.

Girdle

Old mine cut diamonds also have thicker girdles than modern round brilliant diamonds. Diamond cutters in the 1800s and early 1900s typically left an unpolished surface around the stone.

Today’s diamonds have a few defining features. Jewelers polish every diamond. Today’s diamonds are also generally bruted or faceted. This difference isn’t the best way to identify old and new, given some antique jewels can have updated and polished girdles.

Crown

The crowns of these two types of diamonds have different angles. Modern round brilliant cut diamonds have their crowns angled 34 degrees.

Old mine cut diamonds have their crowns angled at 40 degrees or greater. This angling makes the old mine cut diamond look taller than the modern round brilliant cut diamond.

Old Mine Cut Diamond Value

Old mine cut diamonds are unique.
Old mine cut diamonds are unique.

Many factors can determine the value of an old mine cut diamond. Among those factors include diamond color, clarity, quality, carat weight, and visual appearance. For an engagement ring, the setting itself also impacts the value of the engagement ring.

Old mine cut diamonds can be as much as 15 % less expensive than old European cut diamonds. For a time, they cost 5 to 10% less than modern cut diamonds.

Old mine cut diamonds cost less than modern diamonds because they were cut into modern shapes. Nowadays, these antique diamonds sell for as much as the modern ones because of how unique they are.

The price of an old mine cut diamond between 0.5 to 0.69 ct will be around $2000. The value, of course, increases the more carat weight the diamond has. An old mine cut diamond with 2 to 2.99 ct can sell for somewhere between $4,500 and $5,800.

Tips for Buying Old Mine Cut Diamonds

Various sizes of loose diamonds.
Various sizes of loose diamonds.

Given how rare old mine cut diamonds are, it can be challenging to shop for them. The number of diamond vendors that still offer them is few.

One useful tip is to focus more on whether you personally find the diamond attractive. A diamond’s GIA certificate may be beneficial; however, what matters most is picking a diamond you enjoy looking at.

Consider also pairing an old cut diamond engagement ring with rose gold or yellow gold settings. Yellow and rose gold can make the warm color of the old mine diamond cut look even more attractive. Thankfully, this is a setting that’s available with most antique engagement rings.

Are You Afraid of Being Ripped Off?

The best thing you can do to avoid a false diamond is consult with experts in the diamond industry. This is because they can better decipher an authentic old mine cut diamond engagement ring from a fake, giving you more peace of mind in your purchase.

Final Thoughts

Take time to find a reputable jeweler who offers authentic old mine cut diamonds. When placed side to side with a modern diamond, you’ll see a distinct difference, and you might become more drawn to antique jewelry.