back to Ring Ideas

Old World Diamonds: A Glittering History

by Adriana Perez-Nakamura
Last updated on August 25, 2023
old world diamonds

If you love vintage or antique diamonds, you’re not alone. Many people cherish these types of diamonds, which can be collectively referred to as old world diamonds. If you’ve been considering a vintage diamond for your engagement ring (or just for jewelry in general), we have all the info you need here.

Types of Vintage Diamond Cuts

The types of antique diamonds that fall into the category of “old world” include the old mine cut diamond, old European cut diamond, and rose cut diamond.

The order in which each diamond cut first appeared is as follows:

Rose Cut: 16th Century

The first of these three cuts to appear was the rose cut. The rose cut diamond originated in the 16th century and remained popular throughout the 17th and 18th centuries.


The lovely rose cut diamond features a flat bottom. It has a faceted dome-shaped top and usually has triangular facets (anywhere from 3 to 24) arranged in a symmetrical pattern. Its name comes from the fact that it has the shape of an opening rosebud.

Rose cut diamonds were crafted completely by hand, which means they do not have perfect symmetry. This is a common feature you will find in almost all antique diamonds. Rose cut diamonds were cut to maximize sparkle under the low lights, such as candlelight, that were used at the time.

Old Mine Cut: 17th Century

Artisans created the old mine cut in the late 17th century, but it became popular in the 18th century.


The old mine cut has a cushion-shaped outline with a high crown, small table, and large facets. In fact, it was the predecessor to the modern cushion cut diamond.

Like rose cut diamonds, old mine cut diamonds were hand cut. They show a softer sparkle when compared to modern diamond cuts like a cushion cut or round brilliant. Interestingly, the term “old mine cut” used to indicate that the diamond came from Brazilian or Indian mines.

Old European Cut: Late 19th Century

Believe it or not, the old European cut diamond was what gave way to the modern round brilliant cut. Popular in the Victorian and Edwardian periods, the old European cut diamond has a round shape.


If we were to compare them to old mine cut diamonds, you’d see that old European cut diamonds have smaller tables and larger facets. And when compared to both old mine and rose cut diamonds, they have a more fiery appearance. These diamonds were cut by hand, so even though they are the predecessor to the round brilliant, they are not as symmetrical or sparkly as a modern round.

How Do Old World Diamonds Differ From Modern Diamonds?

Variety of lab grown diamond rings. Old World Diamonds.
Variety of Lab Grown Diamond Rings

Old world diamonds differ from modern cut diamonds in a number of ways. From their overall shapes and faceting styles to their sources, let’s take a look at some of those differences here:

Cutting Styles and Technology

As we’ve mentioned, old world diamond styles were made well before modern advances in cutting. Since cutters in those times didn’t have the technologies we have today, they had to estimate the shape and faceting sizes for each diamond they cut. This resulted in diamonds that were not symmetrical or proportionate.

You will not find a single perfectly symmetrical antique diamond that was hand cut. This is quite unlike the modern diamond, which can be cut with incredible precision for consistent results. However, this uniqueness is one of the traits of an old world diamond that is attractive to those interested in them.

Modern Diamonds Have More Sparkle

Lab Grown Oval Diamond in a Bezel Setting
Lab Grown Oval Diamond in a Bezel Setting

Antique diamonds were cut to maximize their sparkle under the lighting of the time, which was low lighting like candlelight. They give off greater flashes of light, thanks to their larger (and fewer) facets, resulting in a pattern of sparkle that looks larger or chunkier. But although newer diamonds may have more sparkle, antique diamonds have greater fire, or rainbow-like flashes.

Diamonds today are designed and cut to fully maximize light performance. Cutters do this by considering optimal proportions and symmetry, as well as light interaction in each individual diamond. The result is a perfect stone that better reflects and refracts light for more brilliance and scintillation.

Shifting Diamond Sources

When rose, old mine, and European cut diamonds were popular, diamonds were usually sourced from South Africa, India, and Brazil. But now, the majority of natural diamonds come from Africa, Australia, Russia, and Canada.

Lab Grown Diamonds

And today thanks to modern technology and science, we have an alternate diamond source: labs. Lab grown diamonds have grown in popularity over the past few years and will continue to do so. Why? Because the benefits of lab diamonds are undeniable, especially because they’re environmentally kind, ethical, and about 30-50% less expensive than mined diamonds.

Why Choose an Old World Diamond Over a Modern-Day Diamond?

Vintage solitaire bridal set

If you prefer unique pieces of jewelry or just like to have something different from what’s trending, then you might like a diamond in the old world style. These charming diamonds are sure to garner attention whenever you wear them, and you can also view owning one as a way of preserving a piece of a bygone era.

If you choose a genuine old world diamond, be sure to purchase from a reputable jeweler with in-depth knowledge of this type of diamond. You can either choose from loose diamonds or buy a piece that is already set and ready to go. But whether you shop loose antique diamonds or completed pieces, be sure to brush up on the 4Cs of diamonds before you go.

Not all of the 4Cs Apply to Antique Diamonds

Since antique diamonds were hand cut, they do not receive cut grades. However, they do receive grades on color and clarity. Keep in mind that antique diamonds tend to have lower color grades because they often have brown or yellowish tints to them, regardless of the setting. And that’s ok, especially because a less-than-perfectly-white stone is part of what gives old world diamonds their antique feel.

How to Care for an Old World Diamond

You can care for an old world diamond at home the same way you would any other diamond. Gently clean it with lukewarm water and mild soap, and lightly scrub it with a soft brush. To ensure your diamond remains in top condition, have it professionally inspected and cleaned every 6 months.

Modern Lab Grown Diamonds with an Old World Feel

Diamond Ring and Tennis Bracelets
Diamond Ring and Tennis Bracelets

You don’t have to have an authentic antique diamond in order to have a vintage vibe. Colored diamonds like brown champagne diamonds and even light yellow diamonds have an old world aesthetic, too.

Another advantage to these types of diamonds is that you get the look of vintage diamonds but with much more shine. Add a loose diamond in the color you prefer to a vintage-inspired setting, and you have the perfect ring!

Another option would be a modern lab grown diamond cut in the old world style of your choice. At Clean Origin, we offer old mine cut and old European cut lab grown diamonds. We even have the elusive duchess cut diamond, also known as a modified marquise. With our diamonds, you get the beauty of an antique diamond as well as the peace of mind that your purchase is both environmentally kind and ethical. Shop with us today!