Much has been written about the make or cut of diamonds. These articles generally refer to the characteristics of what is known as the Modern Round Brilliant Cut, as opposed to antique cuts such as the Old European or Old Mine Cut. The charm and beauty of the old cut diamonds could be compared to a vintage car vs. a modern car. If you were to remove the engine from an antique Rolls Royce and put it into a modern Audi, of course it will not perform like a modern engine. However, in the classic car that same engine represents a large portion of the car’s charm, desirability and certainly value.
In the old days before lapidaries discovered the science of how light behaves within gemstones, the most important aspect of the gem was generally its weight. Diamonds, which naturally form in a cubic shape, were cut to save as much of the carat weight as possible. Due to their natural shape, cutting for weight resulted in higher crowns and smaller tables than you would expect to find on a well cut modern round brilliant diamond today. Often times the square corners of the rough diamond would be only softly rounded producing a cushion shape rather than round.
The technology of diamond cutting has improved greatly over the centuries and more still today with the use of laser technology. Today’s technology allows diamonds to be cut to perfect point at the base, where antique diamonds have had an extra facet at the based, known as a culet. Despite their differences, antique cut diamonds are graded using the same system as modern diamonds, in terms of colour and clarity. However, applying the same proportion and symmetry grades to them would be positively ludicrous, like comparing the construction code of the Eiffel Tower to a modern high-tech wind turbine. Old diamonds have the nostalgic beauty, allure and rarity of an old sepia photograph, where modern diamonds present the slick brilliance of modern mega-pixel, digitally enhanced photo.
- Ronnie Bauer