Where to Buy Vintage Style Diamonds: Old Mine Cushion Diamonds That Sparkle

In decades past, jewelers would take vintage diamonds and re-cut them into more modern cuts. This is akin to committing diamond sacrilege. Re-cutting these beautiful stones into modern cuts may have “updated” the cuts, but reshaping a diamond will invariably reduce its weight. What’s worse, though, is the loss of a vintage styled diamond that given enough time will come back into vogue. The short-sightedness employed in such a practice while deplorable, is a product of the pressures of commerce. It is difficult for a merchant to hold on to stock without any type of guarantee that those styles will become fashionable again at some point in the future. Styles do cycle around and often what seems dated in one decade given 20 to 30 years becomes “vintage” and interest is revived. Today, jewelers and trades people have again come to appreciate the beauty of the antique faceting seen in these timeless diamonds. There has been a strong uptick in demand from consumers for these vintage styles. Antique style diamonds do have a special charm. It’s no surprise that the interest in vintage jewelry has increased dramatically of late.

An antique/vintage style diamond: The Canera Antique Cushion

The above diamond can be found here:
www.victorcanera.com/diamonds/55416k-2.017-h-vs2-ideal-antique-cushion

The above diamond has an Ideal or 0 Cut grade which is the highest cut grade issued by AGS. An AGS Ideal Cut diamond is considered by many to be one of finest cut diamonds in the world. An Ideal cut grade is reached by factoring in polish, symmetry, proportions and performance scores of a diamond.

The Canera Antique Cushion is a high performance cushion cut diamond. The old mine cut diamonds of the 19th and early 20th century did not have the benefit of the advancements in light performance that we have today and therefore did not display the optimum traits that the new designs exhibit. The Canera Antique Cushion is designed by Victor Canera and combines both the charm of the old style cuts while incorporating advancements in the science of light performance. Within its beautiful “pillowy” outline, the Canera Antique Cushion employs an antique facet pattern inspired by Old Mine Brilliant diamonds of centuries past. This type of faceting is commonly referred to as being “broad faceted” or “chunky faceted”. These terms accurately describe the large, optimally tuned facets employed in the Canera Antique Cushion that reflect broad flashes of light compared to modern diamonds that have a more “splintery” reflective character.

Left: AGS000 Generic Antique Cushion with “mushy” appearance caused by virtual facets. Right: an AGS000 Canera Antique Cushion

The Canera Antique Cushion is a high performance vintage cushion cut diamond having optimal optical symmetry and ideal light performance and can be found exclusively at VictorCanera.com.

History of The Old Mine Cut

Most Old Mine Brilliants existing today are diamonds that have been handed down from generation to generation. These antique diamonds while charming are often lacking in many areas. First of all being used diamonds, these antique stones can have many signs of wear, including chips, abrasions, and cracks. These stones, having been cut at a time when diamond cutting technology was not as developed as it is today, are also severely lacking in cut precision. It’s common to see antique Old Mine Brilliants that are lop sided and the poor craftsmanship is easy to spot. In addition to physical symmetry polishers had little to no understanding of light interaction in a diamond or the notion of light performance.

The Gemological Institute of America informs us that centuries ago, diamond cutting was a slow process. The less material the cutter removed from the original rough diamond crystal, the more quickly he completed his work. If a diamond cutter took too long to complete a task they would see their wages cut as a penalty. Therefore, the typical cut during this time was actually a squarish, sometimes slightly oval cushion-brilliant. The name used by most jewelers today when refer to such shapes is the “old mine cut.” This cut’s defining characteristics are more often than not a squarish shape. The old mine cut diamond’s top and bottom -ie crown and pavilion- were both much deeper than are in the cuts employed in the shaping of today’s diamonds. In the mid-1800’s  Coster’s Amsterdam diamond cutting house was largest diamond cutting establishment in the world. It employed a labor-intensive process that included three phases of operation, each phase required specialized skilled labor to split or cleave the diamonds, cut the diamonds, and finally polishing the diamonds.

In the 1870’s a “bruting” machine started being employed which gave the diamond a round outline. The first angle gauges led cutters to use the angles associated with today’s modern cuts. In the year 1900 a second event changed the way diamonds were shaped: the circular saw came into use. This new tool made it a great deal easier to split the typical octahedral-shaped diamond rough crystal into two pieces. This in turn made it possible to cut the smaller top piece into a finished diamond. The technique which had been employed prior to this was to simply grind it away. – A waste of precious diamond which would no longer be necessary. Within the next couple of years many in the industry realized that using the saw saved weight from the common octahedral diamond crystals, which meant that the new proportions could be cut without the type of waste of diamond rough that previous techniques had caused. This change shifted the emphasis from weight recovery to allowing diamonds to be cut into prettier shapes resulting in the many designs which eventually have become the styles that we see today.

Vintage Style Diamond Cut: Cushion Cut

vintage-cushion-halo-ring-with-matching-band
A Cushion Cut Diamond. Available from Ritani.com

The cushion diamond had a big increase in popularity during the 19th century. Old mine cuts are often confused with modern cushion cut diamonds. Today, some cushion cut diamonds are actually certified as “old mine brilliants”. Old mine cut diamonds are somewhat similar to cushion cuts the main difference being that old mine cut diamonds have fewer facets and the proportions also vary.

The cushion cut is a modern take on an old style, as it has more of the sparkle expected in diamonds, while still having a shape reminiscent of the old mine cuts.

Cushion cuts have been in high demand in the past few years, yet it was not until the Canera Antique Cushion came on the scene that anyone had been able to bring out the true chunky faceted style of the Old Mine Cuts and still have the diamond display the optimum light performance that makes a diamond sparkle. In the end this sparkle, fire and brilliance is what diamonds are famous for.

We invite you to view Victor Canera’s current offering of loose Canera Antique Cushion Diamonds and see why the lucky owners of this gem, call it one of the finest cushion cut diamonds in the world.

 

What are Virtual Diamonds?

I have been asked a question which I am sure other people are also wondering about. What are Virtual Diamonds? If you have no idea what the term Virtual diamonds means you could easily start wondering if these are some sort of imaginary diamonds. Are the diamonds really there? What the heck are virtual diamonds? Have no fear. We’re here to clear  up any confusion surrounding virtual diamonds.

In a sense virtual diamonds are not there, so in a way you’d be right. But the good news is that they are somewhere. They do exist. They just aren’t being physically kept by the jeweler that is retailing them. Virtual diamonds are the diamonds which are still held by  manufacturers, ie siteholders. These diamonds may be listed by a number of jewelers as virtual inventory by permission from the siteholder. Some online jewelers’ inventory is entirely virtual. This is how James Allen and Blue Nile began.

Jewelers who own their own inventory such as Brian Gavin Diamonds  do also have access to diamonds held by siteholders and are therefore able to also list these diamonds on their website. There are a few reasons they may choose to do this. For example listing virtual diamonds allows them to increase the number of choices available to their customers. Brian Gavin Diamonds has a very large fan base. Anyone who has experienced the care and service that Brian Gavin Diamonds provides would likely look to Brian Gavin Diamonds for their next diamond purchase. As such Brian Gavin Diamonds increases the variety of diamonds available by also listing virtual diamonds. This simply gives more options to anyone browsing their website.

Advantages OF BUYING FROM VIRTUAL INVENTORY

On of the advantages of being able to access a virtual inventory is that  you have access to a wide selection of diamonds. The ability to compare many different diamonds allows you to select for whatever attributes you want. Some people select size over quality of cut, others (who do their research, and know that a poorly cut diamond is not going to sparkle) make their selection based on the quality of the diamond’s cut. But the choices are there and much of this is made possible through virtual stock. Jewelry retailers can list diamonds without having to arrange and maintain secure storage not to speak of investing untold millions of dollars in the precious cut stones themselves. The wide variety of stones available through virtual stock is great for those who like to research and narrow their search down to within specific parameters.

Disadvantages of buying from Virtual Inventory

One disadvantage of browsing through virtual stock is that not all listings include a photo of the specific diamond. Often listings only show a stock photo, or none at all. This is not always the case, but it is understandably quite a logistical challenge for a jeweler to photograph inventory they do not have possession of. Which is why James Allen’s amazing feat of photographing tens of thousands of diamonds is all the more impressive. One disadvantage to buying from a virtual selection that has given rise to complaints on more than one occasion is that in rare circumstances the diamond someone wants may already be in the process of being sold to another jeweler. If this were to happen to you most likely your jeweler would be happy to suggest some alternative stones. However you may have thought long and hard about a particular diamond and will understandably not be too happy at being told that it’s no longer available. Another disadvantage of buying from virtual selections is that all the best signature cuts are generally not included in virtual listings. Signature cuts are best bought directly from the cutter for the best deals anyway.


While we’re on the topic of signature cuts, some jewelers whose signature cuts are to die for and are definitely worth checking out are:

To sum it up, virtual diamonds present us with an opportunity to browse many more diamonds than would be possible if jewelers had to own all their stock.

While the highest grade diamonds are usually purchased from those who specialize in such items and are often hard to find in virtual listings, every inventory will have better and lower quality diamonds. One simply has to choose in which areas they are willing to compromise: size, cut, color, or clarity.