Valentine's Day is coming, and if previous years are any indication, around 6 million people may be getting engaged. If you're looking at engagement rings in anticipation, you may start to feel like many of them look alike. In a way, that's true because the precision of the modern diamond cutting process is designed to make each gem as uniformly brilliant as possible. If you're struggling to find a look that sets your ring apart from the rest, you might consider investing in a diamond with an older style cut. Learn more about the styles of diamonds that can be found in vintage rings.
Old Mine Cut Diamonds
Old mine cut diamonds got their name in the 1800s because they came from the old diamond mines of India instead of the newer mines found in South Africa (where most diamonds come from today). Old mine cuts were all shaped by hand–consequently, no two are exactly alike.
Like modern diamonds, old mine cut diamonds have 58 facets. However, modern diamond cuts put the emphasis on a stone's refraction, or "fire." Old mine cuts were designed to maximize the stone's weight, instead. Old mine cuts typically resemble modern cushion cut diamonds, only the edges are slightly rounded instead of squared.
European Cut Diamonds
European cut diamonds have a more precise geometry than old mine cut diamonds and typically have a deep body and a wide, heavy crown surrounding a small center facet, or table. A distinctive feature of old mine cuts is that their culets, or bottom facets, are polished flat, instead of pointed. Looking down through the top of the stone, this causes the bottom to appear like a bright circle inside the stone.
This style was most popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Like many modern diamonds, European cut diamonds have 58 facets, but they are usually not perfectly symmetrical.
Because of the depth of the stone, European cut diamonds look best in rings with high settings and shanks that allow light to reach the body of the stone. A cathedral setting, for example, is ideal.
Rose Cut Diamonds
Rose cut diamonds are typically found in jewelry from the late 1600s to the start of the 20th century. They typically have 12 to 24 facets per stone and often have an irregular shape that is either mostly round or oval, with a peaked facet in the center and a fairly shallow body. They may be faceted only on the top or on both sides. They were actually valued in part for their uniqueness, so they often have inclusions that cause them to have a faint color. That means that they don't have a brilliant fire, but more of a warm glow.
Rose cut diamonds are typically set in a bezel setting, which provides the most stability for a stone that is irregularly shaped.
To find any of these diamond styles, you'll need to look for a seller that handles estate or antique jewelry. If you can't find the exact ring that suits you, concentrate on finding the stone that you like and have a setting made to your specifics.