What Is A Mine Cut Diamond

Are you shopping for a vintage diamond ring? In your search, you will come across the term ‘old mine cut diamond.’ These diamonds date as far back as the Edwardian and Georgian eras, and each boasts a beautiful, unique personality based on how it was hand cut.

Modern round brilliant cut diamonds are more popular among today’s brides, but if you want something different yet stunning, a mine cut one might be an excellent choice.

This guide will explain everything you need to know about mine cut diamonds, including their history and how they compare to other antique and modern diamonds. You will also find useful tips for buying a mine cut diamond to help you make an informed purchasing decision.

What Is A Mine Cut Diamond?

Mine cut diamonds, also known as old mine cut diamonds, date back to the 18th to 19th century.  If you are looking for an antique diamond for an engagement ring, an old mine cut is a good place to start.

So, what is an old mine cut diamond? The meaning of this term has evolved over the years. The term was first used in the 1800s when the mines in Africa begun replacing those in Indian and Brazil as the world’s source of diamonds. Historically, many of the world’s oldest mines were in Brazil and India, which produced colorless to near-colorless, brilliant, square-shaped diamonds.

When Africa became the new source of diamonds, the mines in Brazil and India effectively became the ‘old mines,’ and the diamonds coming from these mines were referred to as ‘old mine cut diamonds to differentiate them from the diamonds coming from Africa.

The new mines in Africa produced higher-quality diamonds of exceptional color. The term ‘old mine cut’ was then used to describe diamonds cut in the same style as those mined in India and Brazil and ones that had distinctive colors. In the end, the term went back to describe diamonds, square-shaped diamonds with large faceting. This description has stuck to date.

Mine cut diamonds were cut by hand. The diamond cutter, also known as bruters, used their eyes, unique perception, and skill to shape loose diamonds used in jewelry. Each old mine cut diamond has its own distinguishable shape and personality, which makes these diamonds so desirable, especially among knowledgeable antique collectors.

Old mine cut diamonds are both different and similar to modern cut diamonds. Let us take a look at some distinguishing characteristics of old mine cut diamonds.

Larger proportions

Compared to a modern cut diamond, an old mine cut is noticeably larger. These antique diamonds were intentionally designed to be bulky so they could be viewed under the dim light of candlesticks.

Smaller table

The table is the uppermost part of a piece of diamond. When viewed from above, a mine cut diamond has a smaller table than a brilliant modern cut or a cushion cut diamond, two of the most popular contemporary diamonds.

High crown

The upper part of a diamond just above the girdle is known as the crown. On an old mine cut diamond, the crown is usually high, giving the diamond a bulky appearance.

Deep pavilion

The pavilion is the lowermost, pointy part of a diamond. Old mine cuts typically have a deep or lengthy pavilion, which complements the high crown, and both of these characteristics contribute to making the stone look comparably large.

Large cutlet

In old mine cut diamonds, it was common for the tip of the pavilion to be slightly trimmed to create a flat rather than pointy end. This flat, cut-off surface is the cutlet.

When viewed from above, an old mine cut diamond will have a noticeably large circle in the middle of the table—this is a reflection of the cutlet. Modern cut diamonds generally have very small cutlets or none at all.

Short lower facets

Facets are the flat surfaces on a diamond. One thing that old mine cut diamonds have in common with modern cut diamonds is the number of facets, totaling 58.

The lower facets are on, the lower half of the girdle. Despite having a long pavilion, the old mine antique diamond has shorter lower facets, but this can be attributed to the large cutlet, i.e., a large part of the pavilion’s pointy end is cut off.

Asymmetrical proportions

Antique mine cut diamonds have an almost square shape with soft edges, but that is as symmetrical as this type of diamond gets. Most other aspects of the old mine cut diamond are asymmetrical, including the facets, table dimensions, and even the crown.

The Difference between Old Mine Cut and European Diamond

The Difference between Old Mine Cut and European Diamond
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As you shop around for antique diamond jewelry, you might come across another term: European Diamond. Although sometimes used interchangeably, European cut and old mine cut are not the same.

As all antique diamonds do, both diamonds share similarities, but there are important differences between these two types of diamonds that you should familiarize yourself with. Let us look at some of the key features that differentiate an old mine cut from a European diamond.


The old mine cut is a much older diamond and existed more than a century before the European cut diamond. The European cut diamond gained prominence in the 19th century, while the mine cut diamond was popular in the 17th and 18th centuries.


Compared to the old European cut, the old mine cut diamond is shorter due to its bigger cutlet and shorter pavilion facets. The old mine cut also has a wider table, and the crown is less bulky.


The biggest difference between these two types of diamonds is their shape.  The old mine cut is square-shaped with soft edges and resembles the modern cushion cut diamond. On the other hand, the European cut has a round shape and looks like the modern brilliant round cut.


Being antique diamonds, both the European cut and old mine cut spot a cutlet. But, as the antique diamond evolved over the years, the cutlet became smaller and smaller.

Therefore, the old mine cut has a larger cutlet than its successor, the European cut. The diamonds that came after the European cut, such as the modern brilliant round cut, have a significantly smaller, almost invisible cutlet.

Light reflection

In jewelry parlance, light reflection is known as fire. The old mine cut and European cut reflect light differently because of the diamonds’ different sizes and face shapes.

Is An Old Mine Cut Diamond The Same As A Modern Cut Diamond

Is An Old Mine Cut Diamond The Same As A Modern Cut Diamond
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The brilliant round cut is among the most popular modern diamonds. Although the old mine cut diamond is often compared to the brilliant round cut, these two diamond cuts are vastly different.

For one, as we have seen, the old mine cut is an antique diamond, while the brilliant round cut is very recent. Vintage diamonds were cut by hand and tend to have physical asymmetries and imperfections compared to modern diamonds that are cut and shaped using precision tools, resulting in a perfectly shaped stone.

In addition to this, the old mine cut diamond has a smaller table while the modern cut’s table is more than 50% percent bigger. The cutlet in vintage diamonds is bigger, and the crown height is fairly higher, so the diamond looks taller than the modern brilliant round cut.

Lastly, viewed keenly, you will notice that the girdle on an old mine cut diamond is frosted. Modern diamonds have a more symmetrical, faceted girdle.

Now you know what an old mine cut diamond is and the difference between this style and other popular options such as European cut and brilliant round cut.

Tips For Purchasing a Mine Cut Diamond

Tips For Purchasing a Mine Cut Diamond
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Next, we have compiled a few recommendations for buying an old mine cut diamond that suits your needs. Keep in mind that old cut diamonds are no longer in production, and there is a limited supply of these loose antique diamonds.

Always ask for a GIA report

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is a world-renowned organization involved in researching and grading gemstones. Reputable jewelers have their gemstones graded by the GIA for qualities such as cut, clarity, color, and carat weight.

After grading a stone, GIA issues a report containing all the details about the stone. This report will help you buy a diamond of your preference, including characteristics such as color, cut, and fluorescence, among others. Without reading the report, you would essentially be making a blind purchase on such an expensive item.

Don’t be put off by color alone

One mistake inexperienced antique diamond buyers make is using modern standards to compare a vintage item. Many modern cut diamonds are extremely bright and categorized as colorless or almost colorless.

But, old mine cut diamonds are identified by their warm, yellowish tinge.  This doesn’t mean that the mine cut stones are of a lesser value. If you are looking for a subdued, low-key but sophisticated diamond, the old mine cut might be an excellent option.

Embrace the imperfections

Old mine diamonds were produced, cut, and polished by hand. As such, these diamonds often have some imperfections in their cut, table, cutlets, facets, and overall proportions. The asymmetries do not hurt the value of the diamond and give the stone its unique personality.

In the end, the diamond you buy should be appealing to your eyes. The information in a GIA report is important, but it is not the be-all-end-all for buying your diamond. Choose a stone that vibes with you, and you will be happy with your purchase for many years to come.

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