Jewelry Blog

Guide to Vintage Diamond Cuts and Shapes

Afshin and Benjamin showing antique old european cut diamond to customer

Vintage Diamonds are, without a doubt, one of the most marvelous parts of vintage jewelry. In this article, I will explain everything you need to know about vintage diamond cuts and shapes, how to identify them, and what to set them in.

Benjamin Khordipour is one of the leading voices in the world for vintage diamonds and jewelry. He’s written a book on engagement rings and is among the foremost bloggers and speakers on the topic.

Skip ahead: Old Mine Cut Diamond | Antique Cushion Cut Diamond | Old European Cut Diamond | Antique Rose Cut Diamond | Antique Asscher Cut Diamond | Antique Emerald Cut Diamond | Old Single Cut Diamond

SHOP NOW: You can also browse our rare Antique Diamond Engagement Rings.

What are Vintage Diamond Cuts?

Vintage diamond cuts are aged diamonds cut from the 1300s until the 1950s. They include the original hand-cut single-cut diamond with a few crude facets and the old European cut diamond, which directly inspires the modern round brilliant cut diamond.

There are two main differences between vintage diamonds and modern diamonds (aside from their age):

  1. Antique Diamonds were cut for the old world, so the diamond cutter designed the diamond cuts to be most brilliant and sparkly under candlelight.
  2. Antique diamond cutters used far less sophisticated tools, so the cuts, facets, perimeter, and ratios of diamonds were far less accurate than those of modern laser-cut diamonds.

Type of Antique and Vintage Diamond Cuts

There are many different types of vintage diamond cuts. Here’s the list and breakdown of the most important ones available in the current market.

Old Mine Cut Diamond

old mine cut diamond engagement ring with diamond accents

Number of Facets: 58
Date Range: Circa 1820 – 1900
Eras: Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian
Shape: Offshaped/Cushion

The old mine cut diamond is among the oldest antique and vintage diamond cuts still available for consumers. Its shape is easily recognizable because it was cut with very early diamond-cutting techniques and had a non-perfect oblong shape. It was also the first diamond to officially have 58 facets, making it the direct ancestor (through the Old European cut) of the modern brilliant cut diamond and the modern cushion cut.

The defining characteristics of the old mine cut diamond are a small but tall table, a very large culet, a frosted girdle, and a misshapen perimeter.

Old mine-cut diamonds are becoming increasingly rare, but the few remaining ones are usually found in engagement rings. Old mine engagement rings are so desirable right now that many vintage jewelers will remove old miners from old jewelry and set it into engagement rings.

Learn more about old mine cut diamonds | Shop old mine engagement rings

Antique Cushion Cut Diamond

Big Cushion Cut Diamond on Table Surface

Number of Facets: 58
Date Range: Circa 1880 – 1930
Eras: Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco
Shape: Cushion

The antique cushion-cut diamond is a descendant of the old mine-cut diamond but with a more exacting shape and a larger table surface. It also has 58 facets, 33 on the crown, one large culet at the bottom, and 24 on the pavilion.

The defining characteristics of the antique cushion-cut diamond are a small table, a very large 8-angled culet, a frosted girdle, and a cushion-shaped perimeter. The actual perimeter height/width ratio will vary drastically from stone to stone.

The Antique Cushion Cut is one of the most recognizable diamonds in the vintage world (and my favorite vintage diamond cut). Like most antique diamonds, few genuine ones are available for purchase.

Although the antique cushion cut diamond may look like the modern cushion cut from afar, it differs in many ways. Here’s a list of the common differences between the antique cushion cut diamond and the modern cushion cut:

  • The antique cushion cut will always feature a large culet.
  • Many of the modified modern cushions will have more than 58 facets
  • Most antique cushion cuts will have a very tall crown (especially the older old-mine cushions)
  • The antique cushion cut will usually feature a small table size
  • The girdle in an antique cushion will usually be frosted (although some jewelry may foolishly correct this and facet the girdle)

Shop collection of antique cushion cut diamond rings

Old European Cut Diamond

3.65ct Antique Old European Cut Diamond Tilted Angle

Number of Facets: 58
Date Range: 1910 – 1950
Eras: Edwardian, Art Deco, and Mid-Century
Shape: Round (sometimes a little imperfect)

The old European cut diamond is, without a doubt, the most popular antique diamond on the current market. When someone says they want an antique diamond, they usually refer to the old European cut diamond.

Like its direct modern version, the old European cut diamond (round brilliant cut diamond) is round and has 58 facets. The facets are divided into 33 on the crown, one small but visible culet at the bottom, and 24 on the pavilion.

The old European cut is the least rare of all the antique diamonds, although it is still much harder to obtain than a modern diamond.

Characteristics of the Old European Cut Diamond compared to a modern brilliant cut diamond:

  • The Old European will always contain a noticeable culet. The culet size may vary, but a genuine old Euro will always have a visible culet even without a loupe.
  • Most Old European Cut Diamonds will have a small table and a high crown.
  • Old European cut diamonds are not usually perfectly round. Antique diamonds were cut by hand, so the perimeter was not as accurately shaped as a modern diamond.
  • The girdle of the old Euro will be frost-like instead of featuring the smooth polish of a modern diamond’s girdle.

Learn more about the Old European Cut Diamond | Shop old European Rings.

Antique Rose Cut Diamond

Antique Rose Cut Diamond

Number of Facets: 25 (24 on the crown and one facet at the back)
Date Range: Circa 1500 – 1940
Eras: Pre-Georgian, Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco
Shape: All shapes (especially round, cushion, and misshapen)

The rose cut diamond is the oldest developed diamond cut in known existence. It was prevalent in the 16th – 18th centuries and only began to lose in popularity with the rise of the old mine cut and old European cut.

The earliest iterations of rose-cut diamonds are exceptionally crude, often with highly deformed facets and perimeters. This is partially due to aging and the lack of access to good jewelry tools.

The rose cut doesn’t have a pavilion, and even its crown doesn’t have a table but is made up of triangular facets that create its distinctive shape. Beneath the crown of the rose cut is a girdle. Antique rose cuts won’t have a smooth and polished girdle but will instead show a frosty (or matte-like) girdle. The back of the rose cut is flat and transparent.

The rose cut diamond has made a massive comeback in the past ten years and is trending strongly among vintage enthusiasts.

Learn more about rose cut diamonds | Shop Rose Cut Diamond Rings.

Antique Asscher Cut Diamond

Antique Asscher Cut Diamond Ring

Number of Facets: 58
Date Range: 1902 – 1940
Eras: Art Deco and Mid-Century
Shape: Octagonal

The Asscher Cut diamond was the original patent of the famous diamond-cutting Asscher Family in 1902. This vintage diamond cut remains fascinating even decades later. Technically speaking, an Asscher Cut diamond is just a square-shaped emerald cut.

Antique Asscher cut diamonds have a few characteristics that separate them from the modern Asscher cut:

  • Antique Asscher cuts will have a very prominent culet at the very bottom.
  • The corners of antique Asscher-cut diamonds are usually much more prominent than modern ones. Many antique Asscher cuts appear almost octagonal.
  • Modern Asscher cuts will have a table percentage of approximately 65%, while antique Asscher cuts will be under 55%
  • The crown of antique Asscher cur diamonds will usually be high and built up.

Learn more about Asscher Cut Diamonds | Shop Asscher Cut Diamond Rings.

Antique Emerald Cut Diamond

Antique Emerald Cut Diamond in Ring

Number of Facets: 58
Date Range: 1920 – 1940
Eras: Art Deco and Mid-Century
Shape: Rectangle-ish

The Antique Emerald Cut diamond is one of the most famous step-cut diamonds. This cut, renowned for its flashes of brilliance, still mesmerizes with very little change to the original antique dimensions. The only obvious difference is the visible culet that is no longer visible in modern emerald cuts.

Finding antique emerald-cut diamonds is very challenging. Most collectors will only have a few genuine antique emerald-cut diamond rings.

The characteristics of the antique emerald cut diamond are very similar to the notable features of the antique Asscher cut diamond. The primary difference between the two cuts will be the dimensions of the actual stone. The antique emerald cut diamond is rectangular, while the Asscher cut is square.

Shop emerald-cut diamond rings.

Old Single Cut Diamond

Number of Facets: 18
Date Range: Circa 1800 – 1950
Eras: Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco
Shape: Round-ish

The old single-cut diamond is one of the first round-cut variations, and although it is rare to see it as the featured diamond in jewelry, it was extremely popular as an accent stone. Most jewelry (especially rings) from the early 1800s until the 1930s had single cuts on the side. From 1930 onwards, old European cuts became more popular, and single cuts began to fall out of style.

Unlike the old mine cuts of the same era, which showcased 58 facets, the old single-cut diamond has nine facets on the crown, one culet, and eight facets on the pavilion. The older single cuts will have a very large culet, while the later ones (the 1930s and on) will have tiny culets that won’t be visible without a loupe.

Pros of Vintage Diamond Cuts

There are many good reasons to shop for a vintage diamond instead of a modern one. I can’t list them all in this article, but here are a few of the most compelling reasons:

  1. Beauty. Although this is a subjective opinion, antique diamonds look much more beautiful than modern diamonds. Antique diamonds will react to candlelight and have a warmer and more romantic flash of color than the modern brilliant diamonds.
  2. Rarity. Antique diamonds are far rarer and more desirable than modern diamonds. This is important because they give a much better feeling to the one-of-a-kind wearer and are also easier to sell if needed down the line.
  3. Ethical Advantage. Unfortunately, many modern diamonds have been placed under scrutiny due to the “blood diamonds” that have crept into the market. Vintage diamonds were mined decades ago, and this problem is not relevant to them.

Talk to a Jewelry Expert

Afshin and Benjamin showing antique old european cut diamond to customer

Are you looking for antique or vintage diamond cuts for your jewelry or collection? Feel free to contact Estate Diamond Jewelry. We will respond within one business hour.

Final Note

There are so many websites selling vintage-style engagement rings, yet they fail to incorporate an antique diamond. Learning the different antique cut shapes and discovering which shape suits your personality should be one of the first steps in buying an antique ring.

See the info-graph below to see examples of the different diamond cuts.


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.