Old European Cut Diamond Facts

by Sasha t on Apr 11, 2023

Old European Cut Diamond Facts - Jack Weir & Sons

Are you a romantic? Love an old black and white film? Do you believe in soul mates? Do you love the idea of wearing a piece of history? 

If you answered yes to any of the above, you’ve come to the right place. Today we’re talking about Old European Cut diamonds, the bridge between the cruder cuts of yesteryear and the modern brilliant diamonds of today. 

The History of Old European Cut Diamonds

Old European cut diamonds were popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They acted as the bridge between the Old Mine Cut diamond (pre 1890), the Transitional Cut (usually cut in the 1930s and 1940s) and the round brilliant diamonds we know today. They are often considered special because of their now unique appearance and the way they were cut.  Trying to get in the vibe?  Think Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, Clara Bow. It was a time of liberation and excitement. It was the time of Cartier and Boucheron. The Old European Cut is the precursor to the modern Round Brilliant Cut.  

4.28 carat old european cut diamond accented by six single cut diamonds on a platinum setting


Because old European cut diamonds aren’t cut anymore, they are sought after by collectors and jewelry enthusiasts - their historical significance and unique beauty make them highly prized among diamond connoisseurs. Even still, Old European Cut diamonds are sometimes less expensive carat for carat than modern diamonds because they don’t fit neatly into the modern 4Cs criteria for diamonds. Old European Cut diamonds are for those who appreciate the history and romance of the stone as much as the quantitative measures of value.  

Old European Cut Diamonds: Warmth & Beauty

The primary source of light used to cut these diamonds was candlelight, so old European cut diamonds have some imperfections that you likely wouldn’t see in a modern round brilliant cut diamond. This cut was common during the Art Deco period when jewelers focused on maximizing the carat weight instead of sparkle. This means the stone’s color may be warmer than the colorless diamonds crafted today that gives them a distinctively subtle and elegant look that many people find charming and romantic.

Old European cut diamonds are characterized by their distinctive appearance and cutting style. Here are some of their common features: 

Old European Cut Diamonds: Small Table, Large Facets 

Like the modern round brilliant cut, the old European cut has 58 facets. However, these facets are usually larger and less splintered than a modern brilliant cut diamond and the location of these facets and their proportions and size all vary depending on the diamond. 

Because of the properties of the facets on an Old European cut diamond, they don’t have the same brilliance and sparkle as round brilliant cut diamonds. Instead, they have a fire which is what happens when light touches these facets and disperses into rainbow colors. 

The table is a diamond’s top surface that contains the largest facets. This part is always flat and dictates the entire diamond’s proportions. Typically, a diamond’s table reveals the most fire. 

Edwardian 2.27 carats old european cut diamond ring on a platinum filigree setting

Old European Cut Diamonds: Large Culet

One term we talk about a lot when we talk about both Old Mine Cut diamonds and Old European Cut diamonds is the culet (pronounced cool-ay). The culet is the tiny flat surface on the bottom of the diamond. One of the hallmarks of the old European cut diamonds is their visible culet. To view the culet, you can peer through the top of the diamond. Modern round brilliant cut diamonds don’t have a visible culet because their culet is actually cut to a pointed facet. In an Old European cut diamond, the culet was cut flat to add security to the stone. 

Old European Cut Diamonds: High Crown 

No matter what, these facets came together to create a beautiful round shape - a circular outline with a slightly domed top  - the crown, and a deep bottom (known as the pavilion). Old European Cut diamonds have a higher crown than modern diamonds. Along with the way the facets in Old European Cut diamonds are cut, this maximizes the fiery light play of the diamond. The balance to the crown is the pavilion, the lower part of the diamond, which is deeper than modern cut diamonds. This creates an even more pronounced reflection of light.

3.86 carats old european cut diamond accented 28 single cut diamonds on a platinum setting

 Old European Cut Diamonds: An Old Mine successor

Old European Cut and Old Mine Cut diamonds do have a lot in common.  Like Old European Cuts, Old Mine Cuts were taken from their rough state, measured and cut exclusively by hand, but Old European cuts employed new technology in diamond saws and jewelry lathes that resulted in a cut that maximized carat weight, but was a bit more refined than the Old Mine Cut. These stones were not only designed to sparkle in candlelight, but under a gas lamp as well and emit an undeniable romantic glow. Because of this, with an Old European cut diamond, you are guaranteed to have a totally one of a kind stone. 


1.67 carats old european cut diamond  accented by eight round round brilliant cuton a 18k yellow gold ring

Also similar to Old Mine Cuts, Old European Cuts have less brilliance, but more fire. Brilliance and Fire both refer to the light play within the diamond and the resulting sparkle. Brilliance is how we describe the small flashes of white light, scintillating and bright. Fire is the dispersion of white light into rainbow colors. So Brilliance really means white sparkle and Fire is much more about color sparkle. Both produce a dizzying dance of light and beauty, but it is up to the personal tastes of the gifter or the wearer to determine which they prefer. 

Old European cut diamonds are characterized by their distinctive appearance and cutting style. Here are some of their common features: Because Old European Cut diamonds were a precursor to modern wars, drug trafficking and topographical claims, they are considered conflict free and eco-friendly.

What to look for when shopping for an Old European Cut Diamond 

A few things to remember when you are shopping for an Old European Cut Diamond 

  • Find a partner to help you - This is the most important thing we can tell you. Here at Jack Weir & Sons, we’ve been traveling the globe for over four decades to find the absolute best of the best. We’d love to help you find your perfect Old European Cut diamond - antique diamonds are kind of our thing! We offer in person and virtual meetings and free shipping and sizing. If you have someone else in mind, that’s great too - just make sure you have a partner who can help you through this process. 
  • Worry less about the specs - Each one is unique, and they were cut by hand - so there won’t be a GIA cut grade. 
  • Enjoy the warmth - Old European cut diamonds were usually in warmer colors, white colors that are frequent in modern round brilliant diamonds are very hard to find. 
  • Be patient - A diamond like this needs to speak to you, wait for the one that gives you butterflies. 
  • Don’t sleep on it - Once you find that diamond that gives you butterflies, buy it. Old European cut diamonds are increasingly rare and increasingly popular, which means that if it’s giving you butterflies, there’s probably someone waiting in the wings for whom it’ll have a similar effect. 
2.51 carats old european cut diamond ring accented by six single cut diamonds on a platinum setting

If you are looking for an Old European Cut diamond, but don’t know where to begin, please reach out to Sasha here at Jack Weir & Sons  and we can get you on the road to these fiery facets in no time. 

Sasha the director of sales and marketing

Sasha: director of Sales & Marketing

Here at Jack Weir & Sons we’ve spent the last 40 years traveling to Europe and all over the world, curating extraordinary estate jewels. JWS is where the old world meets the new world. Celebrate life, preserve history, discover your own priceless heirloom jewel. We are extremely grateful for our clients and the ability to help people to celebrate their special moments through one of a kind jewelry. To share that gratitude and our strong family values, we chose to partner with Baby2BabySince the beginning of the partnership, we've donated $125,000. A portion of every sale goes towards children living in poverty to provide them with diapers, clothing, and all the basic necessities that every child deserves. 

We offer in-person and Virtual Appointments and are happy to answer any questions about your favorite jewel. 

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