Jewelry Blog

Complete Guide to the Old Mine Cut Diamond

old mine cut diamonds and old mine cut diamond rings

The old mine cut diamond is one of the most desirable types of diamonds for antique jewelry enthusiasts. In this article, we will go through everything you need to know about this mysterious aged diamond.

If you want to skip straight to our collection of old mine cut diamonds, click here.

What is an Old Mine Cut Diamond?

Old Mine Cut Diamond Diagram

The old mine cut diamond is a particular diamond shape that was popular in the mid-1800s. It features 58 facets and is the predecessor to the modern round brilliant cut diamond and modern cushion cut diamond.

The old miner is generally the shape of a cushion, but because each antique diamond was hand-cut, the shape will vary drastically from diamond to diamond. In fact, its overall shape is hard to define. More often than not, the old mine cut diamond will also be crooked and misshapen. Afshin Shaddiae describes the old mine cut as “Squarish in form but with dramatic rounded corners, blending the lines between the two.”

The old mine cut is also known as a miner cut or old miner and by the abbreviation “omc.”

How to Identify an Old Mine Cut

Afshin inspecting an antique old mine cut diamond with jewelers loupe

Identifying an old mine cut diamond is surprisingly easy once you have the general rules down. They are so different than modern diamonds that it is impossible to confuse them once you know how they work.

Here are the things to look for when trying to identify an old mine cut:

  1. A large culet. Look at the diamond from the top (and through the table). If you see a large facet in the center of the diamond, you are looking at an antique diamond. You won’t even need a loupe to see the culet. It should be eye-visible.
  2. Uneven Shape. Although the Old European Cut is technically an old mine cut as well (see below), the differentiating element will be its shape. If the antique diamond is perfectly round, it is an old European cut, but if it is uneven (and more cushiony), it is an old miner.
  3. Tiny Table. Old mine cuts have much smaller table surface areas than modern diamonds.
  4. High Crown. Another feature of the OMC will be a high crown, and also usually a very deep pavilion.
  5. Frosted Girdle. Examine the side girdle of the diamond and see if it is polished or not. Old mine cuts will not have a polished girdle.

If you find a diamond that matches all five criteria, there is a strong possibility that you’re looking at an old mine cut. You must show the stone to an antique jewelry specialist to know for certain.

Different Types of Old Mine Cuts

Unbeknownst to most, there are many types of old mine cuts. It’s not just the cushion-shaped old mine cut, but there is actually a whole group of antique diamonds that all fall under the umbrella of old mine cut. Here are some of the more common old miners:

  • Old European Cut Diamond. We will talk more about the old Euro below, but although it’s perfectly round, it is still counted as an old mine cut.
  • Old Mine Asscher. The earlier versions of the Asscher cuts had much smaller tables, large culets, and a much different perimeter than the modern Asscher cut.
  • Old Mine Emerald. These antique diamonds had large culets in the center. Other than that, they are very similar to modern emerald cuts.
  • Old Mine Cushion Cut. Unlike the regular old mine cut, the old mine cushion cut has the actual modern cushion shape that most recognize. However, unlike the old miner, the old mine cushion was symmetrical and very elongated.

Old Mine Cut Diamond Value

Technically speaking, the old mine cut diamond should have the same value as any other diamond of equal specifications. In order to know its specifications, you will need to have the diamond appraised or assessed, and then, depending on its carat, cut, clarity, and color, it will receive a value.

The truth, however, is that old mine cut diamonds have a market of their own, and they usually fetch more money than a regular modern diamond. The rarity of the old mine cut will usually add a premium of anywhere from 10% – 15% more than the market value to their value.

Here are a few extra things that an expert will look at when assessing an old mine cut:

  • Liveliness. Because antique diamonds were cut by hand and were designed to sparkle in candlelight (not electric light), the expert will assess the inner life of the diamond to see how lively it is.
  • Damage. Old mine cut diamonds are old. An expert will usually examine the diamond to ensure it has no structural damage or weaknesses.
  • Relative symmetry. Of course, old mine cuts won’t be perfectly symmetrical, but an expert will still look to see the overall symmetry of the stone’s cut.

It is important to note that most regular jewelers will not know how to evaluate antique jewelry (or even date them). For that reason, they will usually only offer market value. Sometimes, in fact, they’ll offer less than market value when they see antique diamonds. To the untrained eye, they will see the “poor diamond cut” and declare it inferior without realizing it’s an antique hand-cut diamond.

In Short: If you’re selling an old mine cut diamond, make sure that you sell it to an antique jewelry expert.

Old Mine Cut vs. Old European Cut vs. Modern Round

old mine cut and old european and modern round

Before we explain how to spot the difference, it is critical first to explain that the old European cut diamond falls under the umbrella of old mine cut diamonds.

Now that we got that out of the way, here are the basic differences between the old mine cut diamond, old European diamond, and the modern round brilliant cut diamond.

Old Mine CutOld European CutRound Brilliant Cut
Shape and PerimeterRoundish-CushionRoundPerfectly Round
Age1850 – 19201900 – 19501960 – Today
CuletVery Large, unsymmetricalSmall, symmetricalLarge
Cut and ProportionsBulkyGoodVery Good
SupplyVery RareVery RareVery Common

Tips for Buying an Old Mine Cut Diamond

Buying an old mine cut diamond, especially for an engagement ring, shouldn’t be a hard experience. There are a few basic rules to have in mind, but aside from them, it is best to treat the purchase like a regular diamond sale.

  • Find a trustworthy vendor. We cannot stress this enough. When purchasing an old mine-cut diamond, you will need to trust the vendor to sell you a genuine antique diamond. If the vendor is unreliable, that is a big problem.
  • Ignore the diamond color. Most antique old miners on the market are usually between I color – M color. The higher, whiter colors in antique diamonds are very rare. Most of them have been recut over the years into modern shapes. If you want an antique old mine cut, you’ll have to expect the diamond to have a warm, firey color.
  • Ignore the Certificate. Similar to the previous tip, the cut won’t look as pretty as it does on modern stones. As mentioned at the top of the article, old mine-cut diamonds were hand-cut, and modern diamonds were cut with machines. The certificates measure the tiniest variances in the cut and give the diamond a technical score. Antique diamonds will always score poorly on certificates. That’s the way it is.
  • Look out for Fish Eye Old Miners. As we’ve mentioned a thousand times, each old mine cut diamond is different. Some of them, however, are very different. Occasionally, you’ll come across an antique diamond will proportions that are so off that it will create an actual fish-eye effect inside the diamond. The easiest way to see it will be to look at the diamond from the top. You probably have a fish-eye diamond if you see the culet repeated throughout the diamond. Some people like it. Others don’t.

How Old is an Old Mine Cut?

As mentioned above, the old mine cut was the predominant cut shape during the entire 19th century and even a little bit of the 20th century. If you see an old mine cut, you can safely understand that the diamond was cut at least over 100 years ago. The earliest old mine cuts will be over 200 years old (circa 1820), but almost none of them are in circulation any longer.

Dating an old mine cut to its exact decade is much harder, and you’ll only see advanced antique jewelry experts giving their hand at it.

Shopping for Old Mine Cut Diamonds

Estate Diamond Jewelry has one of the most comprehensive collections of old mine cut diamonds in the world. Here’s part of our online collection. Please message us if you’re looking for a specific old mine cut. We will respond within one business hour.

Top Reasons To Buy An Old Mine Cut Diamond

Old Mine Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

If everything we’ve mentioned in this article isn’t enough to convince you to buy an old mine cut diamond, here’s our consolidated and expanded list of all the important reasons to buy an old mine diamond.

  1. Ancient and Have a Story: Each old mine cut diamond carries centuries of history, making your jewelry unique and storied.
  2. Completely Conflict-Free: These vintage diamonds were mined long before modern conflicts, ensuring ethical peace of mind.
  3. Better for the Environment: Opting for an old mine cut means less demand for new mining, reducing environmental impact.
  4. They Look Beautiful: With their unique cut and warm glow, these diamonds offer a distinct, timeless beauty.
  5. One of a Kind: Every old mine cut diamond is handcrafted, ensuring no two stones are exactly alike.
  6. Usually Come in Beautiful Antique Settings: These diamonds are often set in exquisite, detailed antique settings, adding to their charm.
  7. More Valuable: Due to their rarity and age, old mine cut diamonds can be more valuable than modern cuts. See above.
  8. Symbolize Tradition and Heritage: Owning an old mine cut diamond is like owning a piece of history, celebrating tradition and heritage.
  9. Soft, Romantic Glow: The larger facets of these diamonds create a different kind of brilliance and fire, known for a softer, more romantic glow.
  10. Increasing Rarity: As time goes by, Old Mine Cut diamonds become rarer, making them a unique investment.

Talk to an Expert

Do you have any questions about old mine cut diamonds, or are you on the hunt to buy a beautiful old mine cut? Feel free to leave us a message below. We will respond within one business hour.


About Benjamin Khordipour

Benjamin Khordipour is one of the jewelry researchers and gemologists at Estate Diamond Jewelry. He received his official gemological degrees from both the GIA and GUBELIN. He also regularly contributes to Business Insider, Forbes, Rapaport, CNBC, and Brides Magazine. Benjamin was born in New York and joined Estate Diamond Jewelry in 2014. He is passionate about vintage jewelry and diamonds. This blog was built on his strong belief that jewelers have a responsibility to properly educate their customers. In 2019, Benjamin co-authored the book The Engagement Ring Guide for Men. His favorite vintage jewelry era is the Art Deco Era and his favorite type of stone is the Kashmir Sapphire. He also collects rare antique pins.