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Old European Cut: What Is An Old European Cut Diamond?

Old European Cut: What Is An Old European Cut Diamond?

Diamond cutting has evolved over time. That resulted in a variety of different diamond shapes and appearances. A long time ago, diamonds were cut by hand. That was before the invention of machinery, though.

Diamond cutting had entered a new era of precision when people started using new methods. It introduced the brilliant-cut diamond – a unique diamond cut that possessed brilliance and fire, or sparkle.

This cut allowed diamonds to shine brighter – and it quickly became the new cutting standard. But enough about modern diamond cuts, some people like a more antique look on a diamond. 

So, if you wish to learn how to identify an old European cut diamond, read on!

What Is An Old European Cut Diamond?

The standard round diamond, created between 1890 and 1930, is known as the old European cut diamond. 

The Old European cut diamond is quite like the modern brilliant-cut diamond. The little circle in the center of the diamond’s table – which derives from the large culet of an old European cut – clearly distinguishes them. 

This antique diamond cut has a high crown, a small table, and a large culet. That gives the old European cut diamonds an outstanding presence on the hand.

Old European cut diamonds have 58 facets; the diamond’s bottom facet is called the culet. And the dark circle appears because of a large culet, which enables more light to escape through the bottom of the diamond. 

A culet is not present in every diamond, though. In fact, many contemporary diamonds do not have one. Instead, they have a sharp tip at the bottom of the diamond, which reflects light and keeps circles from forming on the table.

Another thing to consider when you’re identifying an old European gem is the frosted girdle. The girdle is the facet that encircles the diamond between the crown and pavilion, by the way.

Furthermore, antique diamonds sometimes have an imperfect round shape. They tend to have poorer symmetry compared to round brilliant cuts.

Here’s another thing to keep in mind: Old European cut diamonds were cut for carat weight rather than brilliance. Due to that, they’re not as dazzling and sparkling as modern brilliant-cut diamonds. They were cut and polished for candlelight, though, so that makes sense.

Plus, diamond cutters had to rely solely on their eyes to hand-cut these antique gems – unlike modern technology. That’s why each stone is one-of-a-kind. These types of diamonds were especially common during the Art Deco period. Vintage jewelry lovers prefer the old European cut diamond to this day.

Unlike the modern brilliant cut, this old cut is known for its “inner fire.” That is the visual contrast between bright and dark flashes of light reflecting off the facets, which are seen inside the gem. To learn more about it, keep reading!

The Inner Fire Of Old European Cut Diamonds

Besides the general distinctions, collectors emphasize the “inner fire” of old Euro cuts. However, inner fire is a hard characteristic to measure. The way diamonds react to light varies depending on their qualities, after all.

In the 1930s, diamond professionals adjusted the proportions of diamonds, resulting in extra shine. On that note, many people believe that the current angles are to blame for the diamonds’ loss of inner fire.

Old European diamonds have greater face-up patterns of light and dark, which a non-jeweler may describe as a “checkerboard” pattern. Yet, those who prefer older cuts refer to the current brilliant diamond as “splintery” because it has a tighter mosaic of light and dark areas.

Want us to help you buy a high-quality Old European cut diamond? Just continue scrolling!

How To Buy A Great Old European Cut Diamond

Search For Symmetry

If you plan to buy one of these bad boys, we bet you’re confused about which things you should pay attention to here. 

To make matters trickier, the old European cut – unlike the modern brilliant – has no cut grades. You’ll have to judge its beauty for yourself and rely on your jeweler’s knowledge.

For starters, you’ll want a symmetrical old European-cut diamond if you want it to be deemed a high-quality gem.

Check the length-to-width ratio and look for a round outline. Remember; ratios of less than 1.1 are desirable – and 1.05 or less is ideal. Anything above 1.1 will have a bulge, though, and will be off-shape.

Look at the diamond from the side, as well. Turn it a couple of times; make sure there aren’t any unusual bulges here, too. That could show that the stone was cut to increase weight while sacrificing performance. These stones should be avoided. 

Otherwise, you’ll overpay for a diamond that doesn’t look as good as it could.

Finally, examine the diamond from top to bottom, then from bottom to top. Make sure the facets are symmetrical from a visual standpoint. Asymmetrical facets will obstruct the diamond’s ability to reflect and refract light – and that, too, will make it appear less desirable.

Judge Its Performance

Examine the diamond under various lighting conditions, including natural sunlight, fluorescent workplace lights, and warm bulbs used at home. They’ll all have different effects on the surface of the stone.

View the gem under a daylight-equivalent light bulb with an ultraviolet component. That’ll allow you to see the diamond hue that diamond graders see. For color grading, that’s pretty much the illumination standard.

Also, take a look at the diamond’s play of white and colored light. The light should dance and scintillate as it passes through the stone.

Next, look at the dark areas. Avoid diamonds with dark regions covering more than 25% of the stone – regardless of the viewing angle. So, as you move the diamond, pay attention to the light and dark patterns. 

Frequently, adjacent facets in old European-cut diamonds darken at the same time. High-quality stones won’t exhibit this – but they’re hard to come by. 

Most likely, you’ll get a diamond with numerous facets that will darken at different angles – at the same time.

Diamond Grading Reports

Gem grading laboratories do not provide cut grades for old European-cut diamonds. But they do assign color and clarity grades to these stones. 

So, here are some essential pointers to help you better understand the grades on your gem’s report.

How colorless a diamond is will determine a white diamond’s color grades. 

This system begins with the letter “D,” which represents a colorless diamond. It then progresses through the alphabet, assigning letters to diamonds with greater color. Z represents stones with significant yellow tints. 

“Fancy colored” diamonds are those that have a stronger yellow tint or any other type of color – such as pink or blue. The color-grading system for these stones is different.

So, remember that the following recommendations refer to white diamonds.

Color grades of I or above are recommended for a modern round brilliant. That is done to seem colorless in white gold or platinum.

Color grades of M or higher are recommended for a stone to appear colorless in yellow or rose gold

Modern round brilliants, of course, reflect a lot of white light. But, old European-cut diamonds aren’t made for it; they emit a more significant amount of colorful light.

To achieve a colorless effect with an old European cut, you might need stones with colors a grade or two higher.

Many old European-cut diamonds have poorer color grades. In any setting, they’ll seem yellow or brown. That’s why low-color-grade diamonds have a “vintage” feel to them: They resemble the stones that people usually identify with antiques!

The old European-cut diamond you buy for your ring will almost certainly have a visible tint. If you’re thinking about purchasing these stones, make sure you’re okay with that.

A diamond’s clarity is generally determined by the number and size of flaws in the stone. 

What matters to you is whether any of these flaws are visible to the human eye. And, even more critical – if they damage the diamond’s crystal structure. 

Diamonds, despite their legendary resistance to scratching, can still break or chip.

Eye-clean old European-cut diamonds with a high clarity grading of F, IF, VVS1 or VVS2 are a common choice. Furthermore, eye-clean diamonds with a clarity grading of VS1 or VS2 are also available. 

There will be no apparent flaws in the majority of SI1 – and many SI2 clarity diamonds. However, any SI clarity diamonds should be examined with care before buying. 

Inquire with suppliers about the eye-cleanness of the SI stones you’re considering. They could bring out the flaws that you would overlook on your own.

Some customers are quite concerned about having a diamond that is free of blemishes. Others don’t mind having a stone with a minor defect if it saves them money. So, it’s entirely up to you to make your choice.

In case you want to know more about blemish-free diamonds, though, read on!

Modern Brilliant Cut Diamond

Most of today’s jewelry is set with brilliant-cut diamonds – which evolved from the old European cutters. As technology advanced, the machinery used to cut diamonds improved, as well. 

And the creativity of the craftsmen increased, allowing for more precise gem-cutting techniques, too. The round brilliant cut is regarded as the ideal cut for diamonds in the current period. Yet, that was not always the case. 

Earlier, there was no conventional system for grading diamonds. In 1939, the clarity, cut, carat weight, and color grading entered the scene, though. 

Now, these depend on nature’s inventiveness – except for the diamond cut, of course, which depends on the craftsmen’s skills and techniques. The table facets of a brilliant-cut diamond are more prominent. But, the lower half facets and star facets are cut to be longer. 

With a culet, the brilliant cut has 56 to 58 facets. There are almost 32 facets between the girdle and the table and 24 facets below the girdle. And as explained earlier, unlike the old European Cut, the table of the diamond is flat instead of domed.

That means that the light reflected from the inside is maximized by these facets, improving the diamonds’ fire, brilliance, and sparkle. 

You won’t find a more lively appearance than a brilliant-cut diamond when it comes to sparkle. Brilliant cuts are ideal for people who enjoy bling.

If you’re curious about the differences between antique and modern diamond cuts, read on!

Related Read:

Old European Cut Diamond Vs. Modern Brilliant Cut Diamond

All qualities we mentioned earlier combine to give old cut stones their unique beauty. 

Remember: The modern round brilliant diamond and the old European diamond-cut feature 57 or 58 facets; that remains the same. It’s the shape and positioning of those facets that distinguish each cut.

Old diamonds were cut for color. Modern round brilliant diamonds are cut for brilliance – as their name suggests. 

The diamond is designed to allow light to enter and bounce back into the wearer’s sight. That’s how the bling that has become so popular in modern jewelry is created. 

Antique stones uniquely collect light, drawing the eye in, though.

Because old cut diamonds were hand-cut, they lack the symmetrical precision that we’ve come to expect in modern cuts. It’s pretty common for an old cut diamond to have some irregularities in the shape and alignment of its facets.

If you can’t decide between the two, we can help you with that decision:

  • If you love vintage things and a glowy, romantic, and elegant feel, we’d recommend you go with an old European cut diamond. It’ll be unique and feminine. 
  • If you like a more modern, clean, and brilliant look, we suggest choosing a brilliant-cut diamond. You’ll get a lot more sparkle and fire with it.

Final Words

We hope that you learned how to identify an old European cut diamond when you see one – and picked up a few more things along the way. 

Sure, It’s cool to own something modern – but antique diamonds have their unique charm. The fact that they were hand-cut makes them even more impressive.

In our opinion, It’s good to own something that can bring back the spirit of the “good old days.” Because who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of nostalgia? 

We certainly do – and we know that we’re not alone in that!

Read Also: Which Diamond Cut Holds Its Value?