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Buying and Selling – Valuing Old Style Cut Diamonds

Buying and Selling – Valuing Old Style Cut Diamonds

Buying and Selling – Valuing Old Style Cut Diamonds

The Antique Jewelry Marketplace
by Edward Lewand (w/guest contributors)
Over the last 20 years or so, old style “antique cut” or “old mine” diamond cuts have gained in popularity. Some feel they have a warmer feel to them and others feel they are brighter, but whatever the reason they have become very popular.
Let us start with the cuts and the style of cuts that are seen and the terms used. An old mine cut diamond (see Photo A and Figure 1) is a cushion shaped stone that followed the outline of the rough crystal. It would have had a high crown (the top of the stone), a small table, large culet and a thin to extremely thin girdle, the edge of the stone (See figure 3 for facet names). It also had larger and wider pavilion main facets and small lower girdle facets.

Old European cut diamonds (See photo B and Figure 2) came about the time of the industrial revolution around the 1880’s when the machines allowed the cutter to round the diamonds. They also had a high crown, small table and large culet but were round (or rounder) in shape.  These stones were cut until around 1919 when the modern cut diamond was developed by Marcel Tolkowsky who figured the cut to return the best amount of light to the eye. This was not a dramatic change in 1919, it was a slow progression and there was great variation from factory to factory. (See photo C of a transitional style cut diamond and photo D a modern diamond cut in Art Deco setting).
Also about this time we see a cross between the cuts, what some will refer to as a transitional cut diamond (see photo C). These diamonds will have a modern crown with a slightly spread table with wider pavilion main facets.
Even though these cuts of diamonds are popular today, in the late part of the 20th century these old style cut diamonds when found were recut by the trade to modern diamonds. It was taught when estimating the value of these old cuts to figure them as being recut to a modern diamond and base the value on a smaller recut diamond.
Today these diamonds have gained so much in popularity they are being cut again and are sought after by dealers. Old European and old Mine cut diamonds at the wholesale level can be somewhat subjective; depending on their size and quality they can trade for less than modern cut diamonds to as much the same price per carat.  At the retail level it has been my findings that they tend to receive higher markups because they are considered harder to find. Whatever the reason, do your research before purchasing or selling. Today a major pricing indicator in the trade “The Gem Guide” provides indications of pricing on these cuts along with modern cut diamonds and colored stones and pearls; along with current industry news. There are also diamond dealers who specialize just in antique diamonds such as Michael Goldstein, Ltd.
Buying and Selling – Valuing Old Style Cut Diamonds
Figure 3
Edward Lewand, GG, ASA, AAA. Private independent Appraiser, Consultant Appraisal Service, LLC. New York and Georgia. He is also an Instructor at New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies “The Art of Jewelry Appraising”.
Mr. Lewand along with his wife Sandy are the directors’ of the “Antique Jewelry and Art Conference, Inc.” known As “Jewelry Camp” now in its 37th year in New York and Atlanta a conference of lectures and hands-on sessions pertaining to antique, estate and costume jewelry.

A good friend and frequent speaker at “Jewelry Camp” The Antique Jewelry and Art Conference, Inc., Michael Goldstein of Michael Goldstein, Ltd, also contributed to this article.  

As always please feel free to contact me if you have questions or concerns or if I can be of any assistance to you. Please feel free to email me with comments, questions or concerns Or visit me at  or at This we will be year honoring Camilla Dietz Bergeron of Camilla Dietz Bergeron Ltd., of New York, for her contribution to the antique jewelry industry.  

Photos courtesy of Edward Lewand.

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