Following the old mine cut and preceding the modern brilliant round, the old European round cut was a huge innovation in diamond cutting history. Between 1890 and 1930 this cut was all the rage. The Victorians and Edwardians both loved to create jewellery using this cut- especially rings! The style which reined then remains popular today with antique collectors and general jewellery fanatics alike. But what is it about this cut that makes it so special..?
As we have already discussed, this cut was a big hit with Edwardian and Victorian jewellers. It was the standard round diamond cut up until the mid-1900s when laser cutting revolutionised the diamond industry. Many of its features strongly resemble its successor, the modern brilliant round cut. The main difference is that the old European round style would predominantly have been cut by hand, so lacks the mathematical precision that we see in the modern brilliant.
Between the old European cut and the modern brilliant, there was also the ‘transitional cut’. This cut was almost a cross between the two- or an early model of the modern brilliant before the angles were perfectly calculated and perfected.
Although almost all of the rings we can see from this era feature old European cut diamonds, some jewellery was crafted using different cuts. Old mine cut diamonds, rose cut diamonds and single cut diamonds were also used contemporarily to the old European.
One of the many wonderful things about the old European round cut is that each diamond is unique. The fact that they all had to be hand crafted, relying only on the eye to measure precision, assures this.
During the turn of the century, stones would have been chosen primarily for their colour. Then, they would have been cut in order to retain the highest carat weight possible. Old European round diamonds were cut to have 58 facets. This is the same amount as modern round cuts, the key difference being that the facets are larger on the old European style.
These diamonds feature a very small table and a large culet. The culet can be seen by looking directly through the diamond from the top and should be visible to the naked eye on any diamond over 1 carat. A frosted girdle (the facet that connects the crown to the pavilion) is another key feature of this cut. When these diamonds are graded their symmetry isn’t given a grade like we see with other cuts, perhaps because of the hand-cut nature of the stones.
Another fantastic feature of this cut is what some gemmologists refer to as the ‘inner fire’. This ‘fire’ describes the view you see by looking straight down into the diamond from above. This cut retains a look of depth that is arguably lost in cuts such as the modern brilliant, which fragment light more intensely. People colloquially put this down to the ‘checkerboard’ look of the old European round cut, as opposed to the ‘splintered’ look of the modern brilliant round.
Pros and Cons
I think my very favourite thing about this cut is its uniqueness. As these diamonds were hand cut, you know that each and every one is special and has no exact replica. For me, there’s something quite magical about that.
The flip side to this of course is the potential for imperfection. Largely, it is a question of how you look at it: are these minor imperfections a problem? Or do they simply add more character to an already dazzling stone?
Another factor that can be taken as both a pro and a con is their rarity. As they are an antique cut, they are becoming harder and harder to source. This sparse availability could be an issue or a challenge if you’re looking to purchase one. Alternately, this makes each stone that little bit more special. Plus, with our inventory at your disposal- you’re covered!
A final pro is the price. Again, being an antique cut, you a far more likely to get more diamond for your money as you are not having to undergo the cutting costs of getting a recently cut stone.
All in all, if you are looking for something that is guaranteed to be unique and feel special, then an old European round cut could be the perfect option for you. Bring that Victorian and Edwardian glamour to the 21st century and chose a stone with glorious inner fire!
Delilah Kealy-Roberts – Sales and Digital Assistant
Delilah joined the AC Silver team as a Sales & Digital Assistant in 2017 after completing her degree in English Literature at Leeds University. Delilah possesses a passion for jewellery and antiquities combined with an interest in blogging and social media.