Diamonds Cuts and Types

No jewelry item quite has the reputation of a diamond. It’s a classic, forever elegant and timeless stone known for its luxury and glimmer. At Tyson’s Watch & Jewelry Exchange, we know quite a bit about diamonds, having worked closely with pre-loved jewelry for over 25 years. Learn more about diamonds in this blog, including types of diamond cuts, how they’re cut, and whether it’s best to sell or pawn your diamond jewelry.

What Is an Old or New Diamond?

An age old topic, but still a hot topic in the diamond industry: Is there such a thing as an old diamond or a new diamond?

Diamonds are found in igneous rocks called kimberlite (a mineral composed of a chain of carbon atoms that’s been crystallized). Diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring substance with the highest thermal conductivity capable of any material. You’ve heard the expression, “A diamond lasts forever.” Did you know that the ancient Romans and Greeks believed that diamonds were tears cried by the gods or splinters from falling stars? An example would be in 1981, when Smithsonian researchers tried to cut through a large iron meteorite that had crash-landed in Antarctica, it was full of microscopic diamonds!

Jewelers are frequently asked if a diamond is a “new” diamond or an “old” one. However, what consumers don’t realize is that diamonds are continuously resold and repurposed not only by the consumer but also by reputable diamond brokers throughout the world.

Different Types of Diamond Cuts

The bigger question may be, do you favor an old mine cut, old European, modern round cut, or traditional cut? Confused? Not to worry; you’re not alone. Mainly due to technological advances in the cutting process, vintage diamond cuts have significantly less facets than the modern round cuts of today.

Old Mine Cut Diamonds

Old mine diamond cuts are just that: older cuts that were faceted from the 1700s through the Victorian era. These works of art were faceted by hand. The first old mine cuts were square, but with time became rounder at the girdle. Old mine cut diamonds have high crowns, small tables, and large and flat culets.

Old European Cut Diamonds

An old European cut diamond has small table facets, heavy crowns, steep proportions, and are round in shape. Old European cuts date from the 1800s to the Art Nouveau era. The later transitional old European cut began to show a wider table and a centered point or culet.

Cushion Cut Diamonds

A cushion cut diamond complements the square shape with softened corners, giving it a pillow-like look, hence the term “Cushion Cut”.

Some call the cushion cut diamond an “old new classic” because its origins date back to the very earliest diamond cutting styles. The modern-day cushion cut owes its facet design to an ancient diamond cut called the old mine cut, which dates back to the 1700s. In the 1700s, the brazilian stonecutters utilized the old mine cut most often since it maximized carat weight. From the 1800s well into the early 1900s, before the round brilliant diamond cut existed, the old mine cut, precursor to the cushion cut, was the most widespread style of diamond shape. Both today’s cushion cut diamonds and old mine cuts have noticeable similarities & differences. The old mine cut has 58 facets, while the modern cushion cut usually has 64 facets.

Nowadays cushion cut diamonds are popularly referred to as cushion “brilliant cut” diamonds since they incorporate both the old cushion cut patterns while integrating additional traits of the round brilliant diamond, the most popular diamond shape of all.

Modern Round Cut Diamonds

Modern round cut diamonds, commonly seen in engagement rings, evolved with technological advances in the late 1900s. For almost 100 years, diamond cutters have been using theories of light behavior and precise mathematical calculations to optimize the fire and brilliance in a round diamond. The glow of the traditional round cut diamond has been compared to the black and white contrast of a checkerboard pattern.

This cut is now the standard and by far the most popular way to cut a diamond. With its fifty-seven facets, its brilliance out shines the other cuts. The round brilliant is also the most expensive diamond cut because it wastes around 60% of the rough stone during the cutting process.

Emerald Cut Diamonds

The emerald cut diamond is one of the oldest diamond shapes. Its origins date back to the table cut of the 1500s when stonecutters initially created the shape and cutting process for emerald gemstones at the Muzo mine in Colombia. Hence the emerald cut draws its name from the stone, most cut in this rectangular shape, the green emerald. The modern emerald cut has 58 facets, 25 on the pavilion, 25 on the crown, 8 on the girdle, with three rows of top steps and three rows of bottom steps.

The emerald cut saw a rise in popularity during the art deco era of the 1920’s and 1930’s. However during the 1970’s the emerald cut diamond saw another resurgence as the clean lines appeared in mid-century modern engagement rings. This shape highlights the clarity of the diamond more than others while also revealing any flaws that the stone may have.

Pear Cut Diamonds

A mix between round and marquise outlines, a pear shaped diamond is a wonderful option for those in search of a chic but less classic cut. One of the most famous pear shaped diamonds in history was the nearly 70 carat Taylor-Burton diamond purchased for the actress Elizabeth Taylor topping over a million dollars in 1969. Pears are a great choice for rings because their graceful pointed teardrop shape makes them appear larger than the alternative round diamond and they will flatter almost all hand shapes.

Oval Cut Diamonds

Oval cut diamonds are simply an elongated round brilliant cut. Oval cuts have the brilliance of the round diamond, but with a more unique shape. They are a fashionable and trendy diamond cut that, when cut well, can look larger than a round diamond of the same carat weight. Like the marquise shape, ovals are a good buy for people who want a stone with a visually impressive size. Finally, symmetry and proportions are also of paramount importance to ovals. Poorly proportioned ovals will also exhibit bow ties across their middles.

Marquise Cut Diamonds

The history behind the marquise cut is very interesting. King Louis XV is to thank for this oval, yet pointy cut. He met madame De Pompadour at a ball at Versailles in 1745. He was enthralled with the shape of her lips, so he commissioned a diamond cutter to recreate its shape. Also called the “Navette” shape, which means little boat.

The marquise brilliant diamond uses the well-known brilliant cut for maximum brilliance and shine. Marquise diamonds have a boat-like shape because the diamond is narrower at the ends and fuller towards the middle. The biggest pro to this shape is that it gives you more diamond for your money. Marquise diamonds will look a lot larger than other diamonds of the same weight because of their long shape.

Princess Cut Diamonds

Princess-cut diamonds are a popular choice, known for their square or rectangular shape. Princess cuts have pointed corners and up to 76 small facets. You may see this type called square modified brilliant. Israel “Izzy” Itzkowitz started cutting diamonds at the age of 13, when family tragedy hit. In 1979, he invented the princess cut, the first to use a brilliant faceting arrangement on a square diamond. Of all diamond styles, the princess diamond cut is the second-most sought after style, just behind the round cut. In 2008, Itzkowitz perfected a cut that would capture all of the benefits of brilliancy and dispersion of light with the asscher cut.

How Are Diamonds Cut?

Back to the original question: new or old? As you’ve probably guessed, there is no new or old when it comes to diamonds. Yes, a diamond can be recut, but some would ask why. Clients often assume that because diamonds are so incredibly hard that they can’t chip. We often explain that even though it is the exception and not the rule, that diamonds can definitely chip if struck with enough force and at the right angle. Many of the older chipped diamonds are now sent off to be recut by highly skilled diamond cutters. Even old chipped or slightly nicked diamonds can sparkle like new after it has been recut.

Older cuts are full of personality and appeal. They are truly one of a kind. Newer cuts exemplify just how far we’ve come in showcasing the earth’s creation.

An important take away: What matters is where you purchase your diamond. There’s too much history and knowledge to leave your diamond purchase to an unskilled professional. At Tyson’s, we take pride in our jewelry services and the level of care we show to each diamond that comes through our business.

Should I Sell or Pawn My Diamond?

There’s a difference in selling versus pawning. When you sell your jewelry, there’s a cleancut transaction. Upon evaluation, we’ll buy your jewelry pieces and provide you with immediate cash in exchange. This is the option to choose if you do not want to regain ownership of your diamond jewelry. If you do wish to regain ownership but need cash quickly, you may want to pawn your diamond. When you opt to pawn, we’ll evaluate your jewelry pieces carefully to determine their value. We’ll then create a contract with you stating that we’ll provide you with a loan while we keep your jewelry in our possession. You can regain your jewelry items once the loan has been repaid based on the terms of the contract agreed upon.

If you’re interested in purchasing new, used, or pre-owned diamonds, Tyson’s diamond collection is among the highest standard you’ll find in the Washington DC metro area. Our team of jewelry professionals carefully inspects, cleans, and repairs each item to its best condition so our customers walk away with stunning, authentic jewelry items that stand the test of time. Browse our diamond collection to see what’s currently available at Tyson’s.