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Old Mine Cut Diamonds

A guide to old miner diamonds and which qualities you should focus on

By Mike Fried,

Characterized by their cushion-like shape, high crown, and large facets, Old Mine Cut diamonds were originally crafted in the late 17th to early 20th centuries. They typically feature 58 facets, but what sets them apart is their uneven and less symmetrical arrangement, giving them a unique, “softer” sparkle compared to the brilliance of modern cuts. When looking to purchase an Old Mine Cut diamond, consider factors like the Four Cs—cut, color, clarity, and carat weight—but also pay attention to the diamond’s proportion and symmetry. The quality of the cut can greatly affect the stone’s appearance, making it important to choose a well-cut stone for optimal sparkle.

In terms of budget, Old Mine Cut diamonds can vary widely in price, depending on factors like size, quality, and rarity. They are generally less expensive than modern brilliant cuts but can still fetch high prices, especially if they are of high quality and have historical significance. Prices can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands per carat. These diamonds are most commonly found in antique jewelry pieces like engagement rings, brooches, and earrings, making them a romantic and timeless choice for those captivated by the charm of yesteryears.

Old Mine Cut Diamond from Abe Mor
A stunning 7.51ct Old Miner in a yellow gold solitaire from Abe Mor

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

What is an old mine cut diamond?
What is the history of an old mine cut diamond?
How much does an old mine cut diamond cost?
What is the difference between an old mine and old European cut?
How does an old mine cut differ from a modern round brilliant cut?
Tips for buying an old mine cut diamond

To help you with the diamond buying process we lean on our expertise and experience. The author of this article, our CEO, Mike Fried has over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. Mike started from the bottom, sorting and evaluating hundreds of thousands of diamonds to learn every facet (pun intended) of diamond quality and value. Mike followed that up by spending years buying and selling diamonds on the wholesale market as well as selling tens of millions of dollars worth of diamonds to diamond retailers.

Bottom Line Recommendation:

Old mine cut diamonds have a beautiful appearance that dates back to an era when diamonds were cut and polished by hand. 

Like other antique diamonds, old mine cut diamonds have a softer look than modern diamonds, with large facets that produce unique fire. They often also have the beautiful imperfections that give antique diamonds so much character. 

If you’re searching for an old mine cut diamond for an engagement ring, we recommend buying from Abe Mor Diamonds, who specialize in antique cut diamonds and have a diverse selection of high-quality diamonds and settings available. For more help, you can also contact us.

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What is an Old Mine Cut Diamond?

Old mine cut diamonds are a type of antique diamond. Unlike modern diamonds, which are cut and polished using high-tech equipment, old mine cut diamonds were cut by hand, giving them a charming, warm look that many people love about antique diamonds.

According to the GIA, the term “Old Mine Cut” like came into use in the 1800s when diamond production in Africa began to eclipse production from the ‘old mines’ in India and Brazil.

You might see the old mine cut referred to online and in some diamond guides as the “miner’s cut.” This diamond cut was used extensively throughout the 18th and 19th centuries in a wide range of diamond rings and other jewelry. 

Aesthetically, old mine cut diamonds share some similarities with modern diamonds. They also have several key differences that give them their unique appearance.

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

However, there are also several major differences between old mine cut diamonds and modern diamonds. We’ve explained these, and more, below.

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Old Mine Cut Diamonds: Visual Characteristics

Old mine cut diamonds share some features with certain modern cut diamonds. However, they also have several major differences. Visual characteristics of the old mine cut include:

  • A relatively small table. Like other antique diamond cuts, the old mine cut diamond has a small table. This is obvious when viewed from above, particularly when an old mine cut diamond is placed next to a modern round brilliant or cushion cut diamond.
  • A large, obvious culet. Most old mine cut diamonds have a large culet. When you look at an old mine cut diamond from above, the culet is often easily visible through the table, giving the diamond a unique appearance.
  • A high crown and deep pavilion. Compared to most modern diamonds, old mine cut diamonds typically have quite a high crown (the upper part of the diamond, above the girdle) and deep pavilion (the lower part of the diamond, below the girdle).
  • Short lower half facets. Although it has a deep pavilion, the old mine cut has much shorter lower half facets than other antique diamonds such as the old European cut, largely because of its large culet.
  • 58 facets. Like many modern diamond shapes, old mine cut diamonds have 58 facets, including a large culet.
  • Imperfect symmetry. Like other antique cut diamonds, old mine cut diamonds often have imperfect facets and asymmetrical features — unique, interesting quirks that are common in diamonds measured by eye and cut by hand.

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.

7.51ct K VS1 Old Mine Cut Diamond
7.51ct K VS1 Old Mine Cut Diamond in a Side Baguette Three-Stone Setting for $97,000

History of Old Mine Cut Diamonds

Old mine cut diamonds date back to the early 18th century. During this period, diamonds were cut and measured by hand, with the diamond cutter’s skill and perception playing a key role in each diamond’s proportions, appearance and overall beauty. 

The old mine cut was particularly popular during the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras — in fact, it was arguably the most popular diamond cut of all from the early 18th century until the last few decades of the 19th century. 

In the late 19th century, the old European cut — a transitional cut between the old mine cut and the modern brilliant cut — became a more popular choice. 

Unlike modern diamond cuts, which tend to have names that are directly related to their shape, the name “old mine cut” can seem like a bit of a mystery to would-be diamond buyers. 

Instead of being related to the diamond’s shape, the name “old mine cut” comes from the origin of rough diamonds commonly used in 18th and 19th-century jewelry. Explaining this requires a quick history lesson on the early diamond industry. 

Up until the late 19th century, the vast majority of diamonds used in jewelry were sourced from mines in India and Brazil. 

India was the world’s first large-scale source of diamonds. Diamonds were mined in India from ancient times, with mining-focused Indian cities such as Golconda gaining a reputation abroad as places of large, stunning diamonds and immense wealth. 

Detail of an Old miner cut in yellow gold solitaire setting
A stunning Old Miner cut ring from Abe Mor

In 1724, diamonds were discovered close to the modern city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil. Brazil quickly became another major supplier of diamonds. 

Throughout the 18th century, India and Brazil were the two main sources of diamonds used in jewelry. Then, in the 1860s, diamonds were discovered in South Africa, resulting in a massive boom in diamond mining throughout the African continent.

Originally, the term “old mine” referred to diamonds sourced from mines in India or Brazil — at the time, the “old” mines of the diamond industry. Over time, it was used to refer to diamonds from any country that used this old-style cut. 

Old mine cut diamonds remained popular until fairly late in the 19th century, after which the old European cut became the most popular diamond shape. 

By the early-to-mid 20th century, as diamond measuring and cutting technology became more precise and advanced, both antique diamond cuts were largely phased out in favor of modern diamond shapes such as the round brilliant cut.

Old Mine Cut Diamond Value

As with other diamond shapes, the value and price of an old mine cut diamond can vary based on its carat weight, color, clarity and the quality and beauty of the diamond’s cut. Old mine cut diamonds are generally 10 to 15 percent less expensive than the old European cuts. You can get an inferior 0.40ct for only $300 or a gorgeous 2ct for $5,500.

Until recently, old mine cut diamonds and other antique diamonds sold for slightly less than modern diamonds. This is because they were often recut into modern shapes — a process that resulted in part of the original diamond going to waste. 

Today, antique cut diamonds are in demand specifically because they’re old and unlike modern cuts, meaning they tend to sell for similar prices to equivalent diamonds in modern cuts. 

Many old mine cut diamonds were cut and sold a long time before diamond engagement rings became a mainstream piece of jewelry. As such, they’re often larger than most diamonds used in modern engagement rings — one of several factors that can affect their value. 

If a diamond is of historical or cultural significance, it may also command a premium compared to other antique and/or modern diamonds. 

Unlike modern diamonds, old mine cut diamonds were cut and polished long before precision diamond cutting equipment was available. As such, you can often find asymmetrical features and imperfections in old mine cut diamonds. 

For a modern diamond, an asymmetrical cut can seriously harm its value. However, this is less of a factor with an antique diamond such as an old mine cut. For many buyers, a diamond with a slightly imperfect cut might have more beauty and character than a perfectly cut stone. 

Beyond these factors, antique cut diamonds like the old mine cut are valued the same way as most other diamonds, by assessing their color and clarity grades.

Old Mine Cut Diamond Prices

Carat Weight Range Price Per Carat
0.5 to 0.69 ct $1,800 to $2,000
1 to 1.4 ct $2,700 to $3,300
1.5 to 1.99 ct $3,300 to $4,100
2 to 2.99 ct $4,500 to $5,800

If you’re interested in buying an old mine cut diamond and have a specific budget in mind, feel free to contact us for expert help.

Old Mine Cut vs. Old European Cut

The old mine cut is sometimes compared to old European cut — another antique diamond cut that’s gained in popularity over the last decade. Although both of these diamond cuts share a few features, there are also several key differences:

  • Age. The old mine cut is more than 100 years older than the old European cut. The first old mine cut diamonds date back to the late 17th and early 18th centuries, while the old European cut diamond wasn’t common until fairly late in the 19th century.
  • Shape. The old European cut has a round outline similar to that of the round brilliant cut that’s common today. The old mine cut, on the other hand, has more in common with the modern cushion cut.
  • Culet. You’ll be able to see a culet on both the old mine cut and the old European cut if you look closely. However, the culet of the old mine cut is much larger and often easy to see through the table with the naked eye.
  • Proportions. The old mine cut is slightly shallower than the old European cut, due to its larger culet and shorter pavilion facets. The old European cut also has a heavier crown, with a slightly smaller table (38-45% of diameter, vs. 38-53% for the old European cut).
  • Fire. Due to their different facet shapes and sizes, the old mine cut and old European diamond cut display different fire, meaning they show color and contrast patterns in a different way.

With these differences out of the way, there are also several major similarities between the old mine cut and the old European cut. 

First, both diamonds feature 58 facets, although they’re cut quite differently. Both diamond cuts also have a softer, less brilliant appearance than modern brilliant cut diamonds, giving them an elegant, classic appearance that’s subtle and less likely to draw overt attention.

Old Mine Cut vs. Modern Round Brilliant Cut

The old mine cut is also occasionally compared to the round brilliant cut — the most common modern diamond shape. Although they share a few similarities, the old mine cut and modern round brilliant cut are very different diamond shapes with numerous differences:

  • Table size. Old mine cut diamonds tend to have a relatively small table, accounting for 38 to 45% of the diamond’s total diameter. The round brilliant cut has a far larger table, with a very good table size somewhere in the 52 to 60% range (ideally 54-59%).
  • Crown height. Old mine cut diamonds have a relatively high crown, particularly when they’re compared to modern round brilliant cut diamonds. Viewed from the side, an old mine cut diamond will usually look taller than a round cut diamond of the same weight.

    In addition to a tall crown, old mine cut diamonds have a deep pavilion, contributing to their “tall” look when compared to modern diamonds.
  • Culet size. As we mentioned above, old mine cut diamonds tend to have a large, easily visible culet. This is because they typically predate modern diamond cutting technology, making it impossible to cut a tiny culet like on a modern diamond.

    While some round brilliant cut diamonds and other modern diamonds may have a culet, they tend to be extremely small and invisible to the naked eye.
  • Girdle finishing. As is common in antique cut diamonds, the old mine cut usually has a bruted, or frosted, girdle. In contrast, most modern diamonds, like the round brilliant cut, use a faceted girdle.
  • Precision and symmetry. Because old mine cut diamonds were measured by eye and cut by hand, they’re less precise and symmetrical than modern diamonds. It’s normal to see asymmetrical facets, as well as other minor quirks of the hand cutting process.

    For many people, this is part of the appeal and character of an antique diamond. Since modern diamonds are measured and cut using advanced technology, they usually don’t feature any obvious imperfections.
  • Designed for color and fire vs. brilliance. As its name suggests, the round brilliant cut is designed for brilliance. Its facets and proportions are optimized to take in light, giving it the beautiful, eye-catching appearance for which it’s known.

    The old mine cut, on the other hand, is not cut for brilliance. Like many other antique cut diamonds, it was cut to produce a warm, beautiful glimmer under candlelight, with a rich, romantic appearance that many people appreciate.

Tips for Buying an Old Mine Cut Diamond

Unlike buying a modern diamond, shopping for an old mine cut diamond isn’t quite as simple as you’d think. Because these diamonds are antique and no longer produced, the supply is limited, with only a few diamond vendors offering them.

Below, we’ve offered our expert tips to help you successfully buy an old mine cut diamond while getting the best possible deal:

  • Focus on what you like, not just the diamond’s GIA certificate. In our other diamond buying guides, we recommend looking at a diamond’s GIA certificate and buying pretty much based on its grades (cut/color/clarity/fluorescence…).

    While color and clarity are still important for antique diamonds, finding the right diamond is much more about personal preference than factors like the cut quality grade.

    Old mine cut diamonds are full of what we would now call imperfections, some of which can add to a diamond’s appeal. As such, while we recommend checking the diamond’s GIA certificate, it’s best to focus on diamonds that look attractive to your eye.
  • Don’t worry about the perfect color. Many antique diamonds have what’s described as a “warm” color. If you’re shopping for an old mine cut diamond, you’ll notice that many of the available stones have colors in the K range and below.

    This is partly because many colorless antique diamonds (grade D-H) have been recut over the years into modern brilliant diamonds.

    Like we recommended above, focus on what looks attractive to your eye when you’re choosing an antique diamond. The warm color of an old mine cut diamond is part of its appeal, making it silly to judge a diamond of this age by modern standards.
  • Pair it with a yellow or rose gold setting. Because of their warm color, old mine cut diamonds look particularly beautiful in yellow gold settings (but any type of metal is fine as long as you like the look). Most antique engagement ring settings are available in yellow gold, making this an easy tip to implement.
  • Buy from the right vendor. Old mine cut diamonds and other antique cut diamonds aren’t widely available. As such, you won’t find them from vendors like Blue Nile, or in local jewelry stores (outside of specialist antique jewelers).

    We recommend buying antique diamonds from Abe Mor Diamonds, who specialize in antique cuts such as the old mine cut and stock a diverse range of antique diamonds and engagement ring settings. To get in touch, you can send them an email here.

Don’t know where to start? If you need personalized help finding and buying the right diamond, engagement ring or other jewelry, feel free to contact us.

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab-created diamonds online.
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well-known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high-quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. 
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
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About the author

Mike Fried Mike Fried Mike Fried has over 25 years experience in the diamond industry working with Leo Schachter Diamonds, Moshe Namdar Diamonds, and joining The Diamond Pro in 2007. He is recognized as an industry expert and has been quoted in publications such as Us, People, Page Six, The Next Web and more.

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