Different styles of Old Miner cut diamonds.
Old mine cut diamonds (OMC) date back to the early 18th century and are precursors of the modern round brilliant cut. They look somewhat reminiscent of the present-day cushion cut and take on a “stubby” appearance (see diamond on left).
In recent years, the timeless and romantic appeal of vintage style jewelry had been driving growing demand. More specifically, old world diamonds like the miner cut and European cut had experienced a strong revival of interest from consumers.
In today’s write up, I am going to address some commonly asked questions and problems that people run into when shopping for an old miner cut. I’m also going to reveal some insights to selecting vintage cushion cut diamonds with personality and charisma.
Like many antique diamonds, old miner diamonds were cut to maximize yield from the rough stone in a laborious process. At that time, the rough diamond would always dictate the final shape of the polished stone and had the following attributes:
Back then, candlelight was the most common form of lighting and diamonds were specifically cut to sparkle under dim lighting conditions. That’s the reason why most vintage diamond cuts had high crowns, deep pavilions and broad facet reflections.
And unlike modern day diamonds, old miner diamonds were polished by hand in an era where artisans only had basic tools to work with. This gave rise to diamonds with facets that lacked uniformity and had significant variations in symmetry.
So, if you are out in the market looking for an old miner cut diamond, it is very likely that you will find diamonds looking like this:
Do you notice the severely off-centered culet and heavily distorted outline?
Let’s be honest, do you really want a diamond that appears like this? Would you want to present this diamond in an engagement ring to your fiancee? If you do, you better think twice and be prepared for some bad news.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of these vintage cut diamonds receive some of the lowest ratings for Polish and Symmetry grades. Check out this GIA grading report of a typical “Old Mine Brilliant” which was sent to the lab on Feb 11th 2015…
Antique cut diamonds often receive a “Fair” or “Poor” ratings for Polish and Symmetry.
Now, I know some people may argue that it isn’t fair to judge a genuine antique cut diamond using modern day grading standards. There is also a small minority of people who love the unrefined and unsightly appearance of retro miner cut diamonds.
For the record, I respect every individual’s personal tastes and opinions. After all, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. However, if you are like most consumers, you are probably looking for diamonds that are cut for optimal beauty and sparkle.
Besides shape appeal, one of the things you should look out for when buying vintage cut diamonds is optical performance. And that’s where you will run into difficulties in finding well-cut old miner diamonds because they are super rare.
The fact is, most jewelers don’t carry OMC diamonds in stock. Even if they do, the vast majority of these antique cushion cuts do not exhibit decent light performance (sparkle!). Let me show you a couple of examples to illustrate this…
Both diamonds exhibit too much darkness in the center of the diamond caused by light obstruction. This creates a distracting appearance and makes the diamond unappealing to look at.
The diamond on the left exhibits extraneous light leakage through the middle of the diamond; giving it a slushy looking appearance and lackluster light return. On the other hand, the stone on the right has poor contrast patterning which gives it a gauche scintillation pattern.
Now, there do exist old-miner cut diamonds which are cut to decent standards. However, these diamonds are extremely difficult to find and require prior knowledge of cut understanding. Personally, I had to sieve through about 90 stones to find a single stone that is purchase-worthy.
While this stone can be considered well-cut by antique diamond cutting standards, it does require a huge amount of effort and experience to weed out mediocre stones. Fortunately, there’s a shortcut to selecting old miner cut diamonds with ideal optics.
And what I’m going to show you next will knock your socks off!
Whether you are a first time shopper or a jewelry connoisseur, I’m sure your bottom line is a diamond that is beautiful and sparkly. With Victor Canera’s Antique Cushion Cut, you can take the guesswork out of your diamond selection.
Victor Canera’s Antique Cushion features ideal light performance and crisp contrast patterning.
The Canera Antique Cushion is a proprietary design inspired by old world diamonds. One of the things which set them apart from other vintage cushion cut diamonds is that they are optimized for light performance and cut precision.
And you know what’s the best part? The Canera Antique Cushion exudes the charm of an antique diamond even though it is crafted with modern day technologies and tools.
For the purpose of this review, I randomly chosen a 1 carat antique cushion cut with F color and VS2 clarity from Victor Canera. To see the full listing, go to: https://www.victorcanera.com/diamonds/2l6xlc.
From the 10X magnified photograph, the diamond displays a beautiful patterning formed by chunky facets; which are characteristic of old miner cut diamonds.
More importantly, Victor Canera’s signature antique cushion cut diamonds have a visual performance that rival even the best modern round brilliant cut. Here’s the corresponding grading report for the above diamond:
Every single CAC is consistently cut to achieve the highest possible rating for light performance (AGS 0). And let me tell you this is no easy feat. If you don’t know yet, the American Gem Society (AGS) is one of the most reliable and consistent gemmological labs in the world.
In terms of clarity and color grading standards, they are on-par with GIA. However, when it comes to analyzing cut quality, AGS evaluates a diamond’s light performance using sophisticated ray tracing software. This scientific approach undertaken by AGS results in a more restrictive cut grading and is a notch higher than GIA’s cut grading methodology.
I want to bring your attention to the ASET and Idealscope images above. If you are looking for a diamond with ideal optics, this is exactly what you want to see! The red color indicates areas of intense light return and you can see that they cover significant sections of the stone. Basically, this means the diamond is going to be bright and brilliant.
The green color indicates areas with less intense light return and the blue represents contrast. Both of which are very important to a diamond’s appearance in the right amounts. And in the case of Canera’s Antique Cushion, the balance is perfect.
As a comparison, here’s how a generic OMC looks like beside a Canera Antique Cushion…
Blatant light leakage under the table facet of a generic OMC (left) compared to a CAC (right)
Well, here’s a video captured by a happy customer from Victor Canera who purchased a 2.041 ct F VS2 diamond. As they say, seeing is believing. The incredible amount of sparkle and life displayed by the ring is simply breathtaking.
I simply adore the broad flashes of sparkle and dispersion the diamond exhibits.
While the center diamond is a critical element of an engagement ring, the choice of setting helps set your ring apart from others. In fact, it is also one of the first things people notice and compliment on.
And if you are looking for truly well-made settings, Victor Canera is one of the best in the craft. His unique hand-forging technique makes all the difference with quality in terms of beauty, touch and longevity.
Check out some of his designs below…
This majestic ring features graduated French-cut diamonds that are channel set along the shanks to create a gentle accent effect on the center stone. The double rows of milgrain finish add to the decorative elements of intricate craftsmanship and enhance the ring’s overall sparkle factor.
Featuring a halo made with U-cut pave set diamonds, this ring is embellished with white and glittering melee diamonds. The split shoulders provide a touch of visual interest to a viewer’s eye and draw their attention towards the gorgeous center stone.
Staring into the mesmerizing center of the ring will draw you into a vortex of brilliance. Hand-forged in precious platinum, this antique style ring is adorned with high crown french cut diamonds on its sides. The ring also features hand carved details on the bottom and side profile of the shanks.
An impressive ring design for all to envy, this setting features a cathedral shank and halo that surrounds the center stone in a sea of sparkling diamonds. The coppery pink color of rose color creates a striking contrast against the white diamonds.
On the right, the same design is shown with a setting made of different metals. A rose gold halo stands out magnificently from a white gold shank. This modern combination of colored metals gives the ring design a creative twist.
For more designs, click here to check out vintage rose gold diamond ring ideas.
Feminine in styling and delicate in appearance, this hand-forged 18k rose gold ring features a sturdy clawed prong solitaire mounting for the center stone. Flanking the sides of the main diamond are shanks with encrusted single-cut melees which shows a detailed level of craftsmanship like no other.
The old miner cut diamond has a distinctive light play and exhibit elegance from a bygone era. They are perfect for people who are searching for a cosmopolitan yet traditional look in their jewelry.
If you are looking for some of the most beautiful vintage cushion cut diamonds, Victor Canera is a vendor you should check out. Their selection of ideal cut diamonds and transparent business practices makes the shopping experience really easy.
It’s a great pleasure for me to read your website and get to listen to your well informed recommendations. First of all let me introduce my self, I’m from Ecuador and I’ll be traveling to the States this September for business and vacations with my girlfriend. I’m looking to get engaged there on this trip so I’m looking for the perfect ring.
I’ve read your entire article as well as other information from the GIA page and other pages. The thing is that it is really hard to pick a perfect ring with a nice, shiny and excellent cut stone. Most of the pages don’t even talk about the cut, and you got all of this “famous” brands that look nice but probably are a rip off. I’ve seen the Ever Us, Tolkowsky, Leo, and even Vera Wang rings. Most of them don’t even have a certification and they even put the real stone size, they just publish the TC weight so you get really confused and don’t really know the main stone weight, shine, cut and color.
The thing is that after seeing a lot of online stores and reading a lot I got to the conclusion that buying a ring from Kay, Zales etc it’s not a good idea. That’s where I got my concerns and need your advice and help. After researching a lot and consulting on the GIA page for recommended jewelries I found this one that seems pretty reliable. I need to pick up the ring and be able to buy it on Miami so it could limit a little the search, anyway I found this two options. What I liked about them both is that first of all they seem to be one of a kind, then the ring is not made as most on the web, 14k white gold but instead platinum. The ring seems to be from some previous owners but the description of the stones sound pretty interesting. “The center set with 1 genuine round old mine-cut diamond, approx.0.82 ctw, H color, VS clarity.
Also the characteristics of the stone, such as clarity and color related to its size seem to be nice, but there is no description of the cut and the GIA report. Basically, it is uncertified.
The two options I found for this jewelry that get into my budget and are in Miami.
This first option is the one that I like it most. I think the ring is pretty unique with that antique look and it is probably antique with a history behind it. I like the characteristics and the size of the diamond as well. But my concern is that how can I know if it is worth it and if it is shiny and nice. Also if the price “professionally appraised” could be real or it is just a catch.
I want to really know if all that is just a catch for the customer to feel he’s getting a bargain. The same concerns I have on the second ring I like. But I think these two options are really the best options that I have seen so far due to the ring materials, the stone used etc.
This jewelry seems to have really expensive and unique rings as well. So what do you think about these pieces? Are they as good as they seem to be?
My budget is $3000 and I’m looking a good size stone for a ring size 5. I want something nice and don’t really care that much about clarity or color, as much as shine and cut. I want to have the best stone for the budget and if it is a solitaire I think I can get more for that money right?
These are other options I also found out after browsing your recommended pages. Let me know how can I do to get a better deal regarding the diamond.
You are in for a rip off with these 2 rings the physical jeweler showed you. The lack of a reliable grading report is a big tell tale sign.
With regards to the James Allen setting, I personally prefer pave settings because of the extra bling.
At the end of the day, your personal preferences take precedence.
https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/round-cut/0.80-carat-j-color-vs1-clarity-excellent-cut-sku-3255041 is a well cut diamond for this price range. It’s a great find.