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The magic of old cut diamonds

5 min read

The magic of old cut diamonds

At Lebrusan Studio, we revel in the magic of old jewellery and how it enables us to maintain connections with our collective past. Old cut diamonds are an opportunity for us to create new stories from old legacies, honouring craft heritage and respecting the limits of our planet’s finite natural resources by utilising what’s already above-ground. This blog post is a celebration of antique cut diamonds, exploring some of the most enduring variations and answering some of your questions.



An ethical engagement ring cast in eco recycled gold, hand engraved with scrolls and set with an antique old cut diamond - modelled on a woman's hand
Patricia’sAthena Grande engagement ring, set with a 0.51ct old cut diamond

Global warming has reached crisis point and it’s vital that we slow the rate at which we’re consuming water, land and energy. We'll never stop supporting small-scale miners, because their livelihood is legitimate - but it's time to start celebrating materials already above-ground too.

Alongside our traceable newly mined diamonds, we also offer recycled old-cut diamonds. By the nature of vintage, reclaimed diamonds can't be traced to their original source. We understand that this lack of transparency doesn't sit comfortably with everyone, but the beauty of recycling diamonds is in minimising the need for further mining - offering a beautiful unearthed gem a second lease of life instead.

Whether you wish to commission a new engagement ring from exclusively old materials or you’ve inherited a special diamond that you wish to repurpose, you’re speaking our language. Mother Nature is too generous with her gifts for us to overlook what is already available to us.




An ethical bespoke engagement ring, cast in recycled gold and set with a trilogy of our client's own reclaimed vintage old cut diamonds, secured in bezel settings and a hand engraved band
Libby’sbespoke trilogy engagement ring, crowned with an inherited 0.72ct transition cut central diamond

Transforming a rough stone into a shapely, faceted gem, the art of diamond cutting is perhaps almost as old as the human relationship with diamonds themselves; with historical evidence suggesting that the practise began in India as early as the 4th century BC.

Advances in knowledge, skill, technology and trends have given rise to numerous variations of diamond cut throughout history. Here are some of the most popular cuts to predate the popular round brilliant cut of today…

Rose cut diamonds:The rose cut originated in India and became favoured in Europe as early as the Renaissance era of the 15th and 16th centuries. Its name is an homage to its resemblance to a rosebud’s petals, a flat base and a domed top accommodating anywhere from 3 to 24 triangular facets. Rudimentary and organic, the rose cut maximizes the diamond's surface area, lending it a soft, flickering glow significantly more subtle than the brilliant sparkle of modern diamond cuts.

A dual-aspect product shot of an ethical bespoke engagement ring, cast in 18ct Fairmined Eco Gold and set with a conflict-free traceable pink sapphire boasting the antique rose cut

Mark’sbespoke engagement ring, set with a pink rose cut sapphire

Old mine cut diamonds:The old mine cut (or cushion cut) enjoyed its heyday from the early 18th century to the latter end of the 19th century, and is now most commonly found in jewellery of the Georgian and Victorian eras. It exists as an evolution of the 33-facet cushion-shaped Peruzzi cut of the 1700s and is considered the earliest version of the modern brilliant cut, as the first to utilise 58 facets. It’s thought that the term ‘old mine cut’ entered the common vernacular in the late 1800s, at a time when diamond production in Africa began to eclipse that of the ‘old mines’ of Brazil and India. Any diamond originating from Brazil or India and cut with 58 facets and a squarish shape was labelled an old mine cut. Early diamond cutters formed old mine cut diamonds with the use of other diamonds as cutting tools, since the diamond is the hardest known natural substance on earth and thus only capable of being sliced by a fellow diamond. Naturally, this laborious technique of rubbing two diamonds together by hand resulted in dimensions that varied from stone to stone. Every old mine cut diamond is totally unique; often endearingly lumpy and always bursting with personality.

A selection of old mine cut diamonds, lined up on a tray for a bespoke engagement ring client to choose from
A selection of old mine cut diamonds, lined up for a client to choose from

Old European cut diamonds:The Victorian era of the late 1800s was one of progression, an Industrial Revolution ushering in a number of inventions that would go on to change the world; from the automobile to electricity and indoor plumbing. Unsurprisingly, diamond cutting advanced significantly during this time. The introduction of the steam-powered diamond lathe in 1874 helped to refine and standardize the way diamonds were cut, offering cutters a little more precision and control. Not only did this give rise to the round shape, but it enabled cutters to cleverly modify the proportions of those 58 facets, creating greater scintillation. An important transition to today’s round brilliant-cut, this interpretation is now known as the old European cut. At Lebrusan Studio, ‘old cut’ is a blanket term that we use to refer to any sparkler that originated from within this epoch. For design purposes, round old European cut diamonds are those that we tend to use most often.


A client's bespoke trilogy engagement ring catching the sunshine. An 18ct sustainable recycled rose gold band is set with the client's own reclaimed vintage old European cut diamond and traceable conflict-free green sapphires
Carrie’sbespoke trilogy engagement ring, crowned with an inherited 0.6ct European-cut diamond

To learn more about the structural differences between old cut diamonds and their modern-day brilliant cut counterparts, check out this blog post.




Some spectacular old mine cut diamonds, lined up for a bespoke client to choose from

Modern-day technology makes the mining, cutting and distribution of diamonds quicker than ever – and that’s before we’ve taken the lab-grown diamond phenomenon into consideration. In fact, diamond production is at an all-time high, with roughly 130 million carats mined annually. (For context, it’s thought that annual production in the 1870s was well under one million.) Comparative to contemporary, machine-cut stones, old cut diamonds are much rarer, and therefore carry more appeal for those who appreciate jewellery with antiquity and storytelling qualities.

What’s more, the organic process by which old cut diamonds are shaped and faceted by hand means no two stones are the same, making each little marvel a rarity in its own right.



A client's bespoke ethical engagement ring, set with a big pear-shaped recycled old cut diamond in a hand engraved 18ct sustainable recycled gold band
Alex’sbespoke engagement ring, crowned with a 0.96ct pear-shaped old cut diamond

According to the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA), the round brilliant cut is the most popular diamond cut of today, with 60% of couples choosing this timeless variation for their engagement ring. Its 57 perfectly symmetrical facets are designed to maximise the natural brilliance of a diamond, creating unparalleled sparkle that will arguably never go out of fashion. It’s this popularity and perfected formula that afford the round brilliant cut the highest resale value and ability to retain value over time.

Meanwhile, most old cut diamonds are valued a little lower than round brilliant cut diamonds of a similar weight. Although much rarer, there is currently less desire for older cuts, and demand is of course the greatest driver of value.

What’s more, the market value of most diamonds today is based on the 4 Cs: colour, cut, clarity and carat weight. Naturally, machine-faceted diamonds tend to score higher in the cut and clarity stakes than their hand-cut predecessors which, although gorgeous, are technically less brilliant. Some old cut diamonds are simply too old to conform to the margins of the universal 4 Cs system at all, which was only introduced in the 1950s.  

Although a respectable 4 Cs grading creates objective market value, at Lebrusan Studio we appreciate natural materials for their alchemy. Every mined diamond was formed over billions of years, withstanding extreme heat and pressure to emerge from the rubble as a unique feat of nature. The older relics still in circulation today tell stories of resilience over multiple lifetimes. What could be more magical than that?


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Love, Arabel & Team

Ruby McGonigle
Ruby McGonigle

Ruby McGonigle is a copywriter and digital marketing professional with over five years of jewellery industry experience. After graduating with a BA in Linguistics, she combined her passions for written word and all things sparkly by joining the Lebrusan Studio team as in-house wordsmith and content creator. Among bi-monthly blog posts, notable examples of Ruby's work include a think-piece on the ‘natural diamonds vs. lab-grown diamonds’ debate, a probe into why traceable and third party certified ASM gold is so important, and an investigation of why platinum is no longer more expensive than gold.