Old Mine Cut Diamond Ultimate Buyer's Guide

by Sasha t on Mar 28, 2023

Old Mine Cut Diamond Ultimate Buyer's Guide - Jack Weir & Sons

Love History? Love Romance? How about the beauty of a one of a kind piece? 

Well, you’ve come to the right place and we’re happy you’re here. Today we’re talking about Old Mine Cut diamonds, a cut that can be found in jewelry from eras such as the Edwardian era, Georgian and Victorian eras. A cut that you will absolutely come into contact with if you are shopping for an antique diamond. If you’re shopping for an antique diamond, once again - you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive in. 

Old Mine Cut 

When shopping for a modern era diamond, you have modern era parameters to guide you, the GIA 4Cs. With antique diamonds, these parameters are much less relevant, making shopping for an antique diamond a bit overwhelming and without guardrails to help guide you. That’s where we come in. A diamond of any era is a special investment, emotionally and financially, and we want to make sure you have the resources you need to make the perfect decision. We’ve written a little guide below to help you navigate the oldest recognized diamond cut of the modern era, The Old Mine Cut diamond. 

If you are looking for modern day precision and perfection, an antique diamond may not be your best bet. With antique diamonds, you have to be ready to let your heart guide you. For those seeking a sparkling and unique piece of history, an old mine cut diamond may be the perfect thing. These diamonds were hand cut by candle light - essentially born of romance. There facets may not be symmetric, but they have a special fire that is truly undeniable. But like anything else 

7.60 carat old mine cut diamond ring on a platinum setting

The History of the Old Mine Cut 

The Old Mine Cut is named after its initial key provenances - the old mines  of Brazil and India. Prior to the discovery of mines in South Africa, the majority of diamonds came from Brazil and India. This, along with the Old European Cut is the most prevalent precursor to the modern day Brilliant Cut diamond made popular by DeBeers and Tiffany and Co. 

The Old Mine Cut (formerly known as the Miners Cut, Mine Cut, Old Miner Cut or Old Miners cut depending on your geography) diamond was popular during the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras. So, if you are trying to find the vibe, think Jane Austen, think Emily Bronte, think Louisa May Alcott - women just starting to experiment with the way they dress, the way they express themselves and what it is that they want from life outside of the home. The tail end of this time period is when diamonds overtook pearls in the upper echelons of society, due in large part to King Edward's reign - a reign known for opulence of all kinds. Today, the Old Mine Cut is also sometimes used interchangeably with an Antique Cushion Cut, which is something to keep in mind as you shop. 

Also known as the “grandfather of Old Cuts,” these diamonds have less refinement than the diamonds we cut today. Each Old Mine Cut diamond was cut by hand cut - each stone unique to the hand who cut it and the candlelight they cut it by. That’s right - Old Mine Cuts were cut and polished by hand and by candlelight - a world of difference from the fluorescent bulbs and modern technology we rely on today. Because each rough diamond was cut to optimize its unique shape and beauty, not cut to a set of specifications like a modern brilliant diamond is today, every Old Mine Cut diamond is extremely unique. 

The, what we would now consider “imperfections” of these diamonds generally manifest as uneven facet junctures and asymmetry. Of course, if you are shopping for an old cut diamond you know that these are not imperfections but rather what makes the diamond so uniquely beautiful. 

The diamonds themselves tell the stories not only of those who have worn them before, but those who compelled the beauty from under their rough exterior. Before the modern brilliant era as we know it today, the diamond cutter prioritized the unique traits and carat weight of each stone and focused on optimizing the light play within the stone in even the softest, candle-lit ambiances. These diamonds are much chunkier, and the facets are much larger, in large part due to the type of tools and knowledge available to diamond cutters at time. 

Characteristics of an Old Mine Cut Diamond

Small Table, Chunky Facets and a whole lot of Fire

Old mine cut diamonds have a small table, which is common with antique diamond cuts. This may be one of the easiest ways to determine that you are looking at an Old Mine Cut diamond. The smaller table is something that you would notice when looking at the diamond from above, and especially when you put it side by side with a more modern, brilliant round cut. Like our modern round brilliants, the old mine cut has 58 facets, but they are chunkier and more geometric facets than we see today. How about fire, the dizzying dance of color and light mentioned up above? Because of these larger facets, the Old Mine Cut has much more fire, the dizzying dance of color and light, than some of its more refined and contemporary counterparts. 

The table of these diamonds is 38% to 45% of the girdle diameter. The table of modern round brilliant diamonds is 53% to 64% of the diameter. Because of the large culet, which we will get into next, you will also be able to see a large circle within the table. This is another big clue that you are looking at an Old Mine Cut diamond. 

Art Deco inspired 3.39 carat old mine cut diamond sapphire on a platinum setting

Large Culet: The bottom facet of a diamond. 

What is a culet you might ask? A culet (pronounced koo-lay) is the facet, or really the lack of facet, at the base of the diamond. A culet refers to the removal of the sharp point of a base of a diamond, leaving a flat surface in its place. If you look down the middle of a stone, you can see the black or white base that is the culet. But by removing this point, the bottom facet, you lose the reflectivity the pointed base of a diamond provides and allow for light leakage. The aesthetic this creates is in direct conflict with the way we think about brilliance in a diamond today, splintered facets creating a snowflake effect. 

However, in the age of the Old Mine Cut, a culet played a functional role - it provided a sturdier base, something that is also valuable to a wearer today. By removing the point, the bottom facet, you also remove the potential for this particular facet, the most delicate on a stone, to chip. One little chip can lead to fractures throughout the stone diminishing its  brilliance and beauty. 

This is why when you look through the table of an Old Mine Cut, you see a circle - that is the larger culet. 

2.71 carats old mine cut diamond on a white gold setting with six old mine cut diamond weighing approximately 0.30 carats

High Crown and Deep Pavilion: 

The easiest way to think about the crown and the pavilion of a diamond is this: the crown is the top half of a diamond and the pavilion is the bottom half, the half often unseen within a setting. Old mine cut diamonds have their crowns angled at 40 degrees or greater, where modern brilliant cut diamonds have crowns angled at 34 degrees. This angling makes the old mine cut diamond look taller than the modern round brilliant cut diamond.

Short Lower Facets

Even though the diamond cut has a deep pavilion, you’ll notice shorter facets on the lower half of an old mine cut diamond. This feature makes the cut stand out compared to other antique cuts. Old mine cut diamonds have a square shape with soft, slightly rounded corners. From above, a typical old mine cut diamond will have an outline that’s somewhat similar to the modern cushion cut diamond. 

Imperfect Symmetry: 

One of the most telling features of an old mine cut diamond is that you will notice the facets aren’t symmetrical, and there are imperfections throughout the diamond. This is because all antique old mine cut diamonds were cut by hand, so there were likely to be mistakes or variations during the cutting process. However, this makes each old mine cut diamond have unique aspects compared to others of the same cut. Placed next to a modern diamond, the proportions of an old mine cut diamond can look overly large and bulky at first glance. 

However, this is all a deliberate part of the diamond’s design. Unlike modern diamonds, which are cut to look beautiful in any setting, old mine cut diamonds were cut to be viewed under the candlelight and offer a unique warm appearance, with a soft, romantic glow.


Reasons to Buy an Old Mine Cut Diamond 

Buying an Old Mine Cut Diamond is a beautiful way to wear history everyday. With each wearer, comes new energy and significance. So much of our lives today are disposable, and there’s a real commitment to the past, the present and the future when you decide on an Old Mine Cut diamond. With an Old Mine Cut Diamond,  you also have the clarity of consciousness knowing that the diamonds were mined prior to the conflict diamond era. You are getting both a natural diamond, derived from the beauty of mother nature without the fear of it playing a part in any conflict. 

Another really beautiful thing about an Old Mine Cut diamond, as with all estate jewelry, is that it has a much smaller carbon footprint. You are choosing to use what is already available, instead of creating something completely new, you are recycling and upcycling. It’s a sustainable option that you can feel extremely good about. 

4 carat old mine cut diamond accompanied by two tapered baguettes 14 karat on a platinum setting
6.62 carat old mine cut diamond ring surrounded by emeralds on a platinum setting

But perhaps the most powerful reason to purchase one of these diamonds is that each one is unique. No two diamonds are the same. Because of the hand cut and polish nature of these stones, there is beauty in the distinct asymmetry of each. You will never have to fear having the same ring as the person sitting next to you getting a manicure. In fact, if you’re up for it - there’s really no better conversation starter than the significance and history of an Old Mine Cut diamond. 

Sometimes these cuts are less expensive than more modern cuts. This is because the beautiful asymmetry and warm coloring of an old mine cut diamond are less valued on paper than the precision cut, colorless diamonds so prevalent today. This is not to say that the value of these cuts is insignificant - in fact, quite the opposite. Though I wouldn’t suggest purchasing one of these cuts if you are looking to quickly turn it over for a profit, there are a finite number of stones in these cuts available. There is not a bad investment to be made here. 

Here at Jack Weir we suggest finding a credible, trustworthy dealer (we’d trust us if we were you) who specializes in antique and vintage pieces (that’s, ahem, kind of our thing) to help you find the perfect piece. We also happen to offer in-person and virtual appointments, so don’t worry if you’re not in the neighborhood, we’re happy to hop on a call and show you some options. In all seriousness, Jack Weir has been traveling the globe for four decades searching for the most exquisite pieces that speak to the soul, that exude romance and that are really, truly one of a kind. We’d love to answer any questions you have - so please feel free to reach out at any time. 


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 Baby2Baby. Since 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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