A diamond is a precious stone that is made of pure carbon, the hardest naturally occurring substance. Carbon atoms well below the surface of the earth are subject to tremendous heat and pressure which...
A diamond is a precious stone that is made of pure carbon, the hardest naturally occurring substance. Carbon atoms well below the surface of the earth are subject to tremendous heat and pressure which, over time (billions of years, in fact), causes the separate atoms to bond in such a way that create a beautiful crystalline structure - diamonds. Diamonds are known to be invincible and indestructible.
Discovery of rough diamonds
The very first diamonds were discovered in India sometime around the fourth century BC where they were gathered from the country’s rivers and streams. The quantities were limited, so only the very wealthy people could own them. In the early 1700’s, India’s diamond supply was beginning to decline when diamonds were discovered in Brazil. Gold miners found them as they sifted through the gravel of the local rivers looking for gold.
Where were diamonds first cut?
Diamonds slowly made their way from India into Europe in the middle ages. Venetian merchants began opening up the trade routes to the east and like all the other new and precious goods, most diamonds went through the wealthy seaport of Venice where most assume that the very first diamonds were cut. Following Venice, evidence points to Bruges in Belgium, another wealthy seaport at that time, as a center for diamond cutting.
When did old mine diamonds appear on the scene?
Vincenzo Peruzzi developed the cut that is known today as the old mine cut (brilliant) with fifty-eight facets. The old mine diamond was the most common cut of diamonds from the early eighteenth century through the late nineteenth century. During this time, diamond cutters would shape the old mine cut diamonds by grinding two diamonds together to create the desired shape, and then a diamond polisher would polish the facets to make them shiny. This was a very unique diamond cutting method that was done by hand, therefore no two old mine diamonds were cut the same.
When did old mine diamond cutting stop?
Around the end of the nineteenth century, Henry Morse changed the market with his round brilliant cut diamond which quickly gained popularity. The round brilliant cut diamonds, named the American cut, were supplied mainly to U.S. jewelers, but in 1919 the American cut went global when Marcel Tolkowsky, a mathematician, published a paper documenting the proportions and cutting angles of the new round brilliant cut. Jewelers around the world began using Tolkowsky’s guide to produce American cut diamonds. Soon thereafter the old mine cut became passé and disappeared into obscurity.
How to find them today
Like many fashion trends, old mine cut diamonds are making a comeback, but finding a true old cut gem today is rare. Although some jewelers are trying to re-create the look and feel of the famous old cut, newer methods fall short of capturing the mystique of the storied jewel.
Before purchasing an old mine cut diamond, be sure to do your research in order to identify the small nuances that make these rare old gems so valuable and desirable.