An authentic vintage or antique engagement ring or wedding band is always a green choice - with no new mining required to source the materials, the environmental impact is zilch since these rings are reused and repurposed. But conscience aside, rings from past eras are in demand for their unique beauty and the sense of history they carry with them. Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson are two stylish A-listers who’ve gone the antique route with beautiful engagement rings from earlier eras. And trendsetting celebrity Mary Kate Olsen has recently begun wearing a stunning and unique 1950s ring that’s rumored to be an engagement ring as well.
One of the many distinctive features of decades-old antique rings is that the diamonds were often cut according to methods that are now rare. The super-sparkly round brilliant cut (the most popular cut for diamonds today) was first invented in 1919, was perfected in the 1950s, and has been the norm ever since. But while antique cuts lack some of the intense sparkle of modern cuts, they offer a lustrous shimmer and a warm, romantic glow, which some people prefer for its subtlety and heirloom feel. Often cut by hand, antique cuts have a personal touch and capture the essence of their eras.
If you’re thinking of an buying an antique engagement ring, or any piece of antique jewelry, here’s a glossary to the most common antique diamond cuts:
Old European Cut: With 58 facets and a circular shape, the old European cut is a predecessor to today’s modern round brilliant cut. The old European cut dates to the 1800s and was used mostly during the Victorian, Edwardian and Art Nouveau eras. This cut went through many variations as jewelers sought a way to best emphasize a diamond’s natural beauty.
Old Mine Cut: A predecessor to today’s cushion cut, old mine cut diamonds possess a soft square girdle with gently rounded corners. The old mine cut dates to the 1700s and was prevalent during the Georgian and Victorian eras. Created before jewelers understood how light moves through diamonds, old mine cuts involved faceting just around the natural edges of the diamond. For that reason, old mine cuts reflect that natural shape of the diamond crystal.
Rose Cut: The rose cut gets its name because it resembles a rosebud, with its flat bottom and dome-shaped crown that rises to a single apex. This cut dates to the 1500s and remained common during the Georgian and the Victorian eras. Rather than focusing on the diamond’s internal fire and brilliance, the goal of a rose cut is to highlight a diamond’s surface luster. Because of this rose cut diamonds give off a warm shimmer.
Single Cut: An extremely old cut dating to the 1300s, a single cut diamond has a large table (a table is the top, flat part of the diamond) and an octagonal girdle (a girdle is the edge of the diamond at its widest point), and usually features eighteen facets. Often small single cut diamonds were used to accent a center stone, because back then jewelers lacked the ability to create many facets in tiny gems.
If you’re looking for an engagement ring that’s eco-friendly and as unique as your relationship, an antique ring featuring one of these romantic and history-rich diamond cuts could be just the thing.