If you are not excited by the traditional modern cut diamonds, and want something a little more unique, antique and designer jewelry offer some great alternatives. While not as sparkly and flashy as the traditional cuts, many of these rings feature rose cut, old European cut, mine cut, rustic or raw diamonds, which each have their own special characteristics.They can be a stunning choice for anyone looking for an unusual or one-of-a-kind engagement ring.
Rose Cut Diamonds
The rose cut is an antique cut dating all the way back to 1400’s India. While they fell out of vogue among modern gem cutters by the 20th century as new cuts that enhanced the fire and brilliance of diamonds were developed, they are currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Most rose cut diamonds found in new pieces of jewelry are new stones cut in India. The basic rose cut has a flat base and a crown composed of triangular facets (usually 12 or 24) in symmetrical arrangement, which rise to form a point They are so named because these triangular facets are said to resemble the petals of a rose. Because they have so few facets and no pavillion to reflect the light, diamonds cut in this fashion appear glassy and give off subtle flashes of light rather than an intense brilliance. Some popular designers using rose cuts in their designs include, Cathy Waterman, Megan Thorn, Sethi Couture, Irene Neuwirth and Melissa Joy Manning.
This delicate and timeless 18K yellow gold rose cut diamond solitaire ring by Irene Neuwirth features a 5mm rose cut center stone accented by micro pave diamonds that go around the entire band.
Rose Cut Diamond Stacking Ring – Yellow Gold
($4,690.00 from Ylang23)
This ring from Sethi Couture features an large oval rose cut diamond ring with an exquisitely intricate pierced diamond setting.
Sethi Couture Handmade Oval Rose Cut Ring
($9,900 from Ylang23)
This rose-cut engagement ring from designer Cathy Waterman features an oval rose cut diamond set with four diamond-set prongs on a elaborate band.
Cathy Waterman Oval Diamond Solitaire on Double Milgrain Seed Band
($14,340.00 from Ylang23)
Antique rosecut rings can be very hard to find as most old rosecuts were recut when they fell out of fashion. But that said if you are able to do quite a bit of searching and research you should be able to find one, like the Victoria era one below.
One important thing to note about such antique rings featuring rose cut diamonds (usually from the Victorian or Georgian eras), is that these diamonds were usually foil-backed to enhance their brilliance. For this reason, as The Three Graces’ website warns, they “…should not be in water for an extended period nor exposed to any other liquids, cleaning products or harsh chemicals,” otherwise the foil backing with be damaged. This is an important thing to consider before purchasing one of these antique rings.
Either way, a rose cut diamond ring is a great choice for women who gravitate towards the feminine and vintage in fashion.
Rustic and Raw Diamonds
The designer Todd Reed pioneered the use of opaque raw and rustic diamonds in fine jewelry. Raw diamonds are exactly that, diamonds that have been left uncut in their natural, raw state. The term “rustic diamonds” applies to diamonds that while also usually being opaque, are faceted, often into rose-cuts. The traditional fine jewelry industry scoffs at these heavily imperfect stones. They are certainly not for everyone, but Todd Reed was really visionary in seeing that there was a market for these unique, earthy stones. He understands that not everyone wants perfection.
Old European Cut and Mine Cut Diamond
These antique cuts are another great choice for those looking for an alternative to a modern cut diamond. What they lack in mathematical precision (as they were all hand cut) they more than make up for in personality and charm.
While most will be actual antique stones (especially if they are set in antique settings), because these cuts are becoming more popular and their supply is very limited, some new stones are being cut in this manner, so make sure you know what you are getting if you intend to buy a loose stone.
Old mine cut diamonds date back to the 1830’s and were common up until the turn of the century. They were faceted completely by hand without the aid of motorized machinery, and thus their facets and shape are all varied. They are the earliest form of the modern brilliant cut. Old mine cut diamonds were faceted to preserve as much of the original rough as possible and thus are squarish in shape.
The old European cut diamond was developed after the mine cut. Some dealers will call an old European cut diamond a mine cut diamond when they are really not. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two styles is that an old European cut diamond will be round in shape whereas the true mine cuts are square or cushion shape. The invention of the power driven wheels allowed cutters to craft diamonds with a more circular outline, closer to what we see today in modern round diamonds. Stones with this cut have a very small table, a heavy crown, and great overall depth. The old European diamonds were very popular from the 1890s through the Art Deco period, and are usually found in engagement rings dating from this period.
These are personally some of my favorite cuts of diamonds. They have more sparkle than rose cuts, but a softer, more diffuse brilliance than modern cuts, as they were meant to glimmer in candlelight rather than dazzle under electric lights. Each one is truly one of a kind, and possessing one is like possessing a piece of history.
An easy way to identify these antique cuts is to look closely at the center of these stones. It should look as though there is a small hole in the middle. When these stones were cut, they hadn’t yet figured out how to make all the facets in the pavilion line up to a perfect point, so the cutters simply shaved the bottom tip off flat. The circle you see in the middle, is the light escaping through this flat point (known as the culet), instead of being reflected back to your eye, as it is in modern cut round brilliants. You can see an example of this in the photo below:
One company that sells these cuts online is Old World Diamonds. They have a very large stock of loose stones, and a small selection of antique engagement ring as well as newly made rings featuring antique stones. Another great place to look is Erstwhile Jewelry, again, Doyle and Doyle, or your local antique jeweler. The Three Graces also has a large variety of antique engagement rings.
With the renewed interest in antique diamonds, some designers are working with these old cut diamonds and mounting them in new settings.