Old European Cut Diamonds Guide

Angelica Frey | August 28, 2023

Angelica Frey | August 28, 2023

The Old European Cut is a historic diamond cut that was the precursor to the Round Brilliant Cut. Most Old European diamonds were cut between 1890 and 1930, and enjoyed a lot of popularity during the Edwardian and Art Deco period.

Compared to Round Brilliant diamonds, Old European diamonds have a small table, larger culet, and high crown. Their facets, while smaller than the ones seen on Old Mine diamonds, are also larger than the ones seen in modern Round Brilliant diamonds.

Book an appointment with a VRAI diamond expert to learn more about our Round Brilliant cut VRAI created diamonds.

How Do I Identify an Old European Cut Diamond?

An Old European Cut diamond is a diamond that has a round shape and has 57-58 facets. The Old European Cut is considered the precursor to the Round Brilliant diamond. Much like its square counterpart the Old Mine Diamond, they were both cut by hand and individually, so the actual characteristics could vary drastically from stone to stone and cutter to cutter.

The invention, in 1874, of the bruting machine made the creation of a symmetrical outline and faceting pattern easier for the cutter. It allowed them to cut diamonds into precise round shapes without following the outline of the original crystal. This invention eventually paved the way for the standardization of the Round Brilliant diamond, formulated by Belgian-born Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919.

What Is the Difference Between Old European and Old Mine Diamond?

The main difference between Old European and Old Mine diamonds lies in their shape. Old European diamonds have a round shape, Old Mine diamonds are square-ish. Think of, in modern terms, the difference between Round Brilliant and Cushion diamonds. “It’s similar to comparing a Cushion and a Round Brilliant,” echoes Grace Taylor, VRAI’s Senior Director of Sales and Customer Experience. “The Old Mine Cut is going to be more squared and the Old European Cut more rounded.” Also, Old Mine Cuts have much larger culet facets than Old European Cuts as well, so that circle visible through the center of the diamond will be larger.

comparison of old mine cut, old european cut and modern round brilliant cut with facet view, top crown view, bottom pavilion view and side girdle view

How Does an Old European Cut Diamond Compare to Modern Shapes?

Old European cuts are round-shaped diamonds with a higher crown, a smaller table, and a culet. Compared to modern shapes, they also have a different weight distribution, with a deeper pavilion than Round Brilliant and Cushion diamonds.

Old European vs Round Brilliant Diamonds

“Old European cut diamonds are a precursor to modern round brilliant diamonds. They are both rounded in shape and feature 57-58 facets,” says Grace Taylor, VRAI’s Chief of Sales and Customer Experience. “The big difference is that Old European Cut diamonds were cut by hand and as a result are much more varied in their shape and size. Old Euros have larger facets and higher crowns than modern diamonds, because they were cut to prioritize their apparent colorlessness.”

Old European diamonds were cut and polished to maximize their fire, while Round Brilliant diamonds are cut to maximize brilliance. Fire refers to the rainbow-colored flashes of light refracted by the diamonds. Brilliance indicates the white light reflected by a diamond.

The difference also comes down to the type of lighting that was in use at the height of the Old European cut. The larger facets were optimized for candlelight, while the smaller facets of the modern Round Brilliant diamond have been perfected to make the diamond scintillate under electric lighting.

Old European vs Cushion Diamonds

Old European Cuts and Cushion Cuts have some similarities in the faceting pattern. However, Old European diamonds are round in shape, while Cushion cut diamonds have a square-ish shape with rounded corners, and also come in an elongated shape.

Old European Cut Diamonds and the 4Cs

Despite having a round shape, Old European diamonds express their 4Cs quite differently from the modern Round Brilliant diamonds. “Old European Diamonds were cut to prioritize color so they tend to show less color overall than a modern round brilliant,” explains Taylor. “They’re fairly forgiving when it comes to clarity because of the faceting and smaller table, and they will be less flashy as a result of that smaller table, too.” In fact, the larger the table on a diamond, the more white flash you get off of it when it sparkles. Smaller facets lend themselves to more rainbow refraction. “Old European diamonds also hold their carat weight differently,” Taylor clarifies. “They typically have higher crowns and therefore look a little smaller from the top-down than the same size round brilliant would.”

It should be noted that GIA does not apply a cut grade to diamonds cut in the old European style, because, were they judged with the same standards applied to modern cuts, they would only receive a “Fair” or “Poor” cut grade.

Are Diamonds Still Being Cut in the Old European Cut?

Some cutters still cut diamonds in the Old European shape, but that’s not a widespread trend. “Interestingly, in the industry over the years it has been more popular to take Antique diamonds in the Old European and Old Mine cut and and recut them into modern shapes,” explains Taylor. “Several of our Cut for You™ shapes have the same appeal: Regulus is the closest facsimile but we also offer our Passion shape which has some of the floral feeling faceting that you can see in an Old European Cut.”

Are There Lab-grown Old European Cut Diamonds?

Some lab-grown diamond providers might offer small collections of Old European Cut diamonds, but they’re not as common as other modern cuts. In the case of VRAI created diamonds, as stated above, Cut for You™ shapes such as the Regulus and the Passion are round-shaped diamonds that share some similarities with Old European diamonds, especially in terms of facets and scintillation pattern.

Top 3 Best Settings for an Old European Diamond

If you choose an Old European diamond, the best setting is something that allows them to shine. “A simple solitaire is always great,” says Taylor. “Our Petal Classic Ring would be gorgeous with a vintage inspired cut. You can also play into the vintage vibe by opting for a three stone like the Three Stone with Tapered Baguettes.” To preserve the vintage-inspired feel, we also suggest the Two Tone setting, which echoes the early 20th-century tendency to pair a gold band with platinum prongs.

The Classic Two Tone
The Petal Classic
The Three-Stone Round & Baguette

What Is a VRAI Created Diamond?

A VRAI created diamond is a lab grown diamond created in a foundry that is Carbon Neutral certified as zero-emissions then cut and polished by master craftspeople. All VRAI created diamonds were created with no mining, no human toll, no emissions. VRAI created diamonds are physically, chemically, and optically identical to mined diamonds. This reduces the cost so you get more carats for less.


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