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

A few people have been asking me where to get vintage cut diamonds.

The following article talks a little about these antique styles followed by a recommendation on where to find some newly cut diamonds that are similar to the old mine cut but with some remarkable improvements in light performance.

History of The Old Mine Cut

Most Old Mine Brilliants found 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 and no 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.”

The Old Mine Cut‘s defining characteristics are more often than not a squarish shape. The Old Mine Cut diamond’s top and bottom — that is to say, crown and pavilion — were both much deeper than are found in cuts employed in the shaping of today’s diamonds. In the mid-1800’s  Coster’s Amsterdam diamond cutting house was the 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 polish 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 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

A Cushion Cut Diamond. Available from Ritani.com

The cushion cut diamond had a big increase in popularity over the course of the 19th century. Old mine cuts are often fairly close to and can even be confused with modern cushion cut diamonds. Today, some cushion cut diamonds are actually certified as “old mine brilliants”.

The main difference between Old Mine Cut diamonds and cushion cut diamonds is that Old Mine Cut diamonds have fewer facets which makes the facets larger than you would find in a cushion cut diamond of the same weight.

The cushion cut is basically a modern take on an old style. It has more of the fire, scintillation and brilliance 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 scintillation, fire and brilliance is what diamonds are most famous for.

Diamond manufacturers have been known to re-cut old diamonds in order to update their “look” as contemporary cuts.

You’re probably wondering, “Hang on! That’s going to make the diamond smaller!”

You are absolutely right.

Reshaping a diamond will reduce its weight. No two ways about it.

But it’s often considered a necessity. The manufacturer/jeweler can’t be certain vintage styled diamond will come back into vogue. But styles often do cycle around. What seems dated in one decade given 20 to 30 years becomes “vintage” and you start seeing a renewed interest.

It has become evident that the cycle has come around again. Jewelers, trades people and consumers have again come to appreciate the beauty of the antique faceting seen in these timeless diamonds.

Antique style diamonds have a special charm so it’s no surprise that the interest in vintage jewelry has increased dramatically of late.

While it’s not great to re-cut a diamond, because of the reduction in its size, the truth is that many old style diamonds did not have good light performance. They lacked the fire, brilliance and scintillation because the technology used to both plan, cut and measure the result was inferior to what is available today.

Improvements in cutting technology and techniques make it possible to recreate those antique cuts with minor adjustments which result in improved light performance.

Victor Canera is a diamond cutter in Los Angeles California that saw the charm of the old mine cut. He applied his expertise to improve the light performance of this style and the Canera Antique Cushion was born.

He created a unique cut that

An antique/vintage style diamond: The Canera Antique Cushion

The above diamond can be found here:

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. As touched on earlier, 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 designed by Victor Canera combines both the charm of the old style cuts while benefiting from the 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.

I 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.


Where can I buy the best diamond close to 1 carat for under $5000?

When speaking of “best” we have to consider that there can be subtle differences in taste, however it is generally agreed that the diamond should not look dull and lifeless. Therefore a diamond that can be deemed to provide the best value while displaying fine features will always be one that has the highest quality cut, highest grade of polish, have the highest grades in terms of proportion and will have optimum ratios. It will also have as few inclusions/clouds/feathering as possible so as not to detract from its beauty.

Having said that, choosing a diamond within budget will, with few exceptions, involve some form of compromise. It is generally a matter of finding those compromises which are acceptable.

(if the specific diamonds I showcase in this post are no longer available by the time you read this post, hopefully the information here will help you to find your own ideal diamond within your budget)

So here goes.

To stay under $5000 I began my search among the diamonds that are just under 1 carat. The price per carat does jump once the diamond reaches 1 carat, as is the case at several weight points. This means that the best bargains are to be found just below the whole, quarter, half, or three quarter carat markers.

First stop will be BlueNile.com

Setting the search parameters to include all diamonds that are $4900-$5000 will give us way too many hits. So I have narrowed the search by including only those diamonds that have been give an Ideal Cut grade or better, and an H to G color grade. The clarity grade I have chosen is VVS1 to VVS2. I’ve left the carat search field as is so we can see everything that this search gives us.

diamond search $5000 close to 1 caratOf the 21 diamonds this search turns up there are two for which BlueNile offers us 360 degree views. Taking a closer look at those two diamonds GIA reports I can see that one of them lists Pinpoint, Needle, Cloud amongst its clarity characteristics.

Therefore I will eliminate that diamond from my shortlist.

The one which will make it onto my shortlist is this one:

0.90-Carat Round Diamond

Stock number LD08079367
Price per carat $5,466
Carat weight 0.90
Shape Round
Color H
Clarity VVS1
Length/width ratio 1.01
Depth % 62.6%
Table % 57.0%
Polish Excellent
Symmetry Very Good
Girdle Medium to Slightly Thick
Culet None
Fluorescence None
Measurements 6.17 x 6.09 x 3.83 mm

We can see here that the price per carat is over $5000 and it would be unrealistic at this point in time to expect to get a 1 carat diamond without compromising in other areas such as quality of cut, clarity, color, which quite frankly are usually a lot more disappointing than a very small compromise in size.


Looking at this diamond’s GIA report we can see that there is a mention of “feather”. This is pretty common and sometimes the feather is a very minor internal flaw. But without a more detailed report we can’t actually see how much feathering there is in this diamond. A less detailed report like this does cost less than a full work up, but the compromise in this case results in some unknowns.

Apart from that minor concern, everything else looks great. No fluorescence to worry about, Symmetry is “very good”, which means it could be better, but the 360 degree view shows us that it’s very close to being “excellent”.

The next place we will look is at VictorCanera.com

VictorCanera stands out among the diamond jewelers I list here on MyTop10DiamondWebsites.com because Victor Canera is one of the jewelers that doesn’t actually stock any diamonds that one would regret buying. All the stock listed on their site is owned by Victor Canera. To see more about the difference between owned stock and virtual stock please see this post here.This allows Victor Canera to only select diamonds that are up to their standards.

Essentially it boils down to Victor Canera establishing a business that is not a sales machine but whose aim is to create beautiful things that people will truly love to own.

This all makes searching for diamonds much easier at VictorCanera.com than at many other websites as you aren’t faced with any dud diamonds.

Today’s search at VictorCanera.com turns up a beautiful diamond that is within the goal of being under $5000.

0.892 ct H – SI1 Canera Ideal Hearts Diamond

0.892 ct H - SI1 Canera Ideal Hearts Diamond under $5000
0.892 ct H – SI1 Canera Ideal Hearts Diamond under $5000

The diamond has had its lab report issued by AGS which is preferred by diamond cutters who have their own signature cut. Victor Canera explains why:

“AGS’ ground-breaking research in Cut and Light Performance has immensely contributed to the understanding of diamonds. AGS is considered the authority in the Cut analysis of diamonds.” – Victor Canera


Comparing this Victor Canera Ideal Hearts Diamond to the diamond listed at Blue Nile above we can see that this one’s symmetry is much better in terms of length to width ratio. The Victor Canera diamond is has almost identical length and width with a tiny tiny difference of .02 mm, whereas the one listed at Blue Nile has a difference between length and with of a gaping .08 mm. The near perfect symmetry of Victor Canera’s diamond plays an important role in this diamond receiving such a high rating from AGS on its Platinum Light Performance Diamond Quality Report.

What makes this diamond the winner is that it is a Canera Ideal Hearts.

As I mentioned above the high quality of Victor Canera diamonds begins with the selection of the world’s best rough diamonds. The diamond in the rough, is passed on to master diamond cutters who represent centuries of amassed knowledge of diamond cutting. The experience and skill of the polisher is further enhanced with the use of the world’s most modern diamond polishing technologies. After the rough diamond is polished, the stone is further inspected and only stones exhibiting ideal optical symmetry through hearts and arrows patterns continue to the next stage. And of course to make sure that only the best of the best are included in Victor Canera inventory the verification of Canera Ideal Hearts, Hearts and Arrows Diamonds is done through AGS Laboratories. The AGS labs are known as being one of the most rigorous laboratories in the world. Affirming its precision, Canera Ideal Hearts diamonds always achieve the distinction of receiving AGS Laboratory’s highest scores of 0 or Ideal, for Cut, Polish, Symmetry and Light Performance otherwise known as AGS 000.

Hopefully this write up will help you find your ideal diamond. Also you will be glad to know that you can call Victor Canera and arrange a free consultation. (Let him know Thomas J Stevens from mytop10diamondwebsites.com referred you, if you can.)

Alternately please send me your question through the contact form.

Your question will be used as a starting point for another blog post (though I’ll email the recommendation to you first so you can have a chance to reserve the diamond I recommend).

Happy diamond hunting.

Where Can I Buy The World’s Most Finely Cut Diamonds Online?

I was recently asked if I could help someone with their search for a jeweler that provides precision cut diamonds. Specifically the question was Where Can I Buy The World’s Most Finely Cut Diamonds Online (ideal AGS cut rating)? The diamond needed was for an engagement ring.

Short answer: Victor Canera
Victor Canera specialises in the following cuts: Hearts and Arrows Diamonds, Antique Cushion Diamonds, (a high performance diamond cut modeled on Old Mine Diamonds), and European Round Diamonds.

They have a wide variety of sizes in stock ranging from 0.3 carat – 4 carat
The range of clarity of Victor Canera stock is only of the highest grade, ranging from IF to SI1
And to top it off the Cut/Polish/Symmetry grades of Victor Canera stock is IDEAL grade.
Victor Canera jewelry is hand forged, which is a far superior way to make jewelry to your regular wax mold process.

Essentially their business is providing their customers with perfection.

Pure and simple.

A Victor Canera Ring is an infusion of three elements. This video explains how these elements are inherent in every VC design.

 Visit www.VictorCanera.com now.

Long answer:

The long answer also includes some advice on how to find a good jeweler within your local area. However for most people the highest quality finely cut diamonds will not be within driving distance. Therefore visiting a jewelry store in person is not feasible for everyone. Many people will have to conduct their search online. Luckily for anyone with internet access Victor Canera has an online presence and provides not only the highest quality cut diamonds but is also where you can have the finest hand forged jewelry made.

After gaining a little knowledge about diamonds very few people will content themselves buying from the mall jeweler. A great deal of chain stores are simply unable to provide high quality stones, much less finely cut diamonds with a super ideal cut. The diamonds found in many chain stores are simply unable to withstand a great deal of scrutiny.

Where to begin

If you think it takes a fair amount of effort to find a high quality diamond jeweler, you’re actually not too far off the mark. Short of flying around the world and spending time in Antwerp, Hong Kong and New York , you’re usually stuck with whatever local jewelers are within your immediate area. And then there’s the internet. With countless businesses vying for your attention it’s no easy task to choose and sift through the pages and pages of information. There doesn’t seem to be any easy way to locate that perfect diamond. The problem often compounds when you do find a jeweler that sells online but you’re not really sure about all the diamond jargon, so it all gets a bit overwhelming.

If you are confused and frustrated don’t despair.

The following points are designed to help with the initial screening process. The aim of this article is to help the smart shopper avoid difficulties which may be encountered when navigating the world wide web, in particular when shopping for precision cut diamonds. This article will include links to jeweler websites that I have screened and consider to be the best of the best of the best. As mentioned above, one of the jewelers that has an online presence and whom I would recommend to anyone looking for the world’s most finely cut diamonds is Victor Canera.

Yet there is a service that has been running for a number of years designed to connect shoppers to the best local jewelers that not only provide high quality stones but also provide excellent service, having passed a series of secret shopper tests. To read more about this please see the page explaining the FindMyJewelerTM service.

However if you would like to conduct your own search for jewelers that provide the world’s most finely cut diamonds here are some tips.

Owned stock or Virtual Stock

Something which can get overlooked when browsing a diamond jeweler’s website is whether the jeweler has stock listed on their website which they own or if the inventory is virtual stock. Virtual stock is very similar to drop shipping, though there are some technical differences which don’t make a huge difference in regards to the aim of this article so don’t need to be gotten into. The main point which this article addresses in regards to virtual stock is to realise that if the jeweler owns the stock themselves they will usually be able to lay eyes on the diamond and describe it to you. This is something which should not be underestimated. A diamond jeweler can’t help but appreciate the beauty of a well cut diamond and this will show in the way they describe it to you whether over the phone or via online chat or even by email. If diamond is from the jeweler’s “virtual stock” it means that it is held by the wholesaler. This presents two drawbacks which, though not major, should be considered. One, the diamond in “virtual stock” may get sold to someone else by another retailer/jeweler and you will have to spend time selecting another diamond. Two, as mentioned above the online jeweler may have no more information than is listed on their own website and therefore can’t give you any more information. To my knowledge the highest quality diamonds are not found within the virtual selections. There may be exceptions to this, but I haven’t come across such exceptions yet.

If high performance and fine quality is an important factor I would suggest that searching through virtual inventory is not going to turn up anything of note. If you are hoping for the jeweler to lay eyes on the diamond so it can be described to you, work with jewelers that own their entire stock.

Signature cut

Time is not the only reason to select a jeweler that owns their stock. If a jeweler/diamond cutter has developed their own signature cut they will in most cases be very meticulous when choosing which diamonds they acquire. Again, here is an area where Victor Canera shines, and it is another reason, among the many, why I am featuring their website repeatedly throughout this article. The diamonds selected by Victor Canera are of the highest grade and they are cut to the highest standard.

the world's most finely cut diamonds
Victor Canera: the world’s most finely cut diamonds
What’s a signature Cut?

To explain what a signature cut is we will first remind ourselves about the basic elements that make a cut diamond such a wondrous thing of beauty. A finished diamond attests to both an impressive feat of nature and of human achievement. A diamond’s scintillation, fire and brilliance* are mostly the result of three well known factors: the quality of the cut, the clarity of the stone, and the color of the stone. The classic diamond shape most commonly used in rings, known by various names but usually referred to as the round brilliant is based on a design published by an engineering student in 1919. The 20 year old Marcel Tolkowsky included this mathematical formula as part of his dissertation for his Ph. D. While the results were impressive for the day the mathematical calculations required to determine theoretically how light would bounce around and disperse in a diamond were calculated by him at a time when computers had not yet been invented. Since the time of his original dissertation many improvements have been added to the science of diamond cutting.  These improvements are incorporated into designs known as Signature Cuts. These designs are often light years ahead of the rest. And yet despite these marvellous improvements people can easily settle on a design that is based on century old calculations! In this day and age there are some wonderful signature cuts to choose from. Admittedly some signature cuts are a little over hyped, but there are some that are definitely worth a closer look.
*Brilliance = white light; Fire = colored light; Scintillation = play of white and colored light in motion.

The Victor Canera signature cuts truly are the result of the highest level of craftsmanship one can imagine.

The Canera Ideal Hearts (CIH) exhibits exemplary physical and Optical Symmetry , Light Performance.

The Emilya Halo Solitaire, hand forged in Precious Platinum pictured above features a 4ct Canera Ideal Hearts & Arrows Round diamond. A halo of Single Cut pave surrounds the center stone. The shank is adorned with “shallow U-Cut” Single Cut pave otherwise known as cut down. The U-Cut pave used throughout maximizes the size of the diamonds minimizing the amount of seen metal. As it is hand forged it is a much higher quality end product than it would be if a wax mold were to be used, as would be the case if this type of design were to be attempted by most other jewelers.

The above ring is to be found at:


The video above shows two Canera European Round Old European Cut Diamonds.

  1. www.victorcanera.com/diamonds/32h62n-1.515-e-vs1-ideal-estimated-old-european-cut
  2. www.victorcanera.com/diamonds/r4qf5a-1.492-f-si1-ideal-estimated-old-european-cut