Expert's Guide to Buying a Vintage Diamond

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Royal Palm  | Royal Palm is an exquisite platinum and diamond engagement ring showcasing incomparable craftsmanship from the Art Deco era (Circa 1935).

If you have your eyes on a vintage diamond and you’ve done a bit of research, you know that buying a vintage diamond online is way different than buying a brand-new, modern stone. That’s why it’s important to treat this search differently and take specific things into consideration along with standard elements. It may seem daunting, but trust us, it’ll be so worth it when you have your gorgeous vintage sparkler on your hand!

At T&H, all of our vintage diamond engagement rings have a story unique to its own era. How cool is that?! An antique diamond carries with it not just warmth and beauty, but a legacy and lasting history that carries on with each wear. Getting to know the nitty-gritty details of your diamond will help determine its value and its history.

Keeping in mind the ‘four C’s’ when buying a vintage diamond engagement ring, it’s important to remember certain rules that apply uniquely to antique diamonds. In regards to the “C” of color, vintage stones typically (but not all the time!) have a slightly warmer hue because of the diamond mines available at the time. Most Victorian and older stones were sourced from India before the discovery of the whiter diamond material in the African mines. In some cases, your vintage diamond’s color may not even be noticeable to the naked eye and can only be detected by a gemologist. (Fun fact, color is graded from the side of the stone, rather than the top, so depending on how your stone ‘faces up’ it might not be a factor!) We are never ones to shy away from color, and depending on the setting of the stone, it can even help you out with the price!

Palm Beach | Authentic Art Deco era platinum and pear shaped diamond ring

Getting familiar with the different cuts of diamonds can help you determine the style of vintage diamond engagement ring you want. In regards to the cut, it means two things: the manner in which the diamond was physically cut, and the shape of the diamond (square, round, etc.). The cut of a diamond is what gives it that ‘sparkle’ so commonly longed for. With vintage diamonds especially, the cut creates that dazzling prism-like effect that enchants anyone who sees your vintage diamond ring! Pro tip: vintage stones dazzle in candlelight since they typically have larger facets and that is the light they were cut with before electricity!

Shafor Park | Edwardian era platinum, diamond and sapphire engagement ring circa 1910 by Trumpet & Horn

The method of cutting vintage diamonds has certainly evolved over history. Veryyyy early cuts like Point Cuts and Table Cuts paved the way for more brilliant cuts like Rose Cuts, Pear Cuts, Emerald Cuts and more. Jewelry mavens wanted diamonds that danced and sparkled, looking more brilliant in the light. Thus, the Old Mine Cut diamond was born. Old Mines can be various shapes, but the most coveted is the Old Mine Cushion because they typically are a little more bang for their buck. They show or "face up" a little larger than their actual weight, giving the appearance of a larger stone. Who doesn't want that?! With Old Mines, cutters weren't trying to create a perfect circular diamond, they were simply trying to get a cool, unique shape from the rough diamond material. Because each vintage Old Mine Cut diamond is hand cut, wearing one of these beauties is a very chic, historical fashion statement! Pro tip: A fun party trick is to point out the open culet in your old stone! This is typically a circle/pin dot at the center of most Old Euros, Old Mine Cuts and antique Cushions that shows off the technology available at the time. Cutters were unable to get the diamond to a perfect point (like the diamond emoji!) without the material breaking, so they would get it as close as they could, then chop it off. This results in a small, circular flat bottom to the stone. They can range in size depending on the stone, but they are a small, charming marker that reminds you of the unique history of your vintage diamond.  

Empire State | A handmade 18k yellow gold and platinum vintage inspired ring with a old mine cushion cut center by Trumpet & Horn

With electricity came the diamond wheel for Old European Cuts, Emerald Cuts, Round Brilliants and many more. Over the years as techniques and technology advanced, modern cuts have greatly changed in style AND sparkle. With the invention of lasers, cutters were able to achieve a very detailed "splintery" sparkle that sets them apart from older, chunkier stones.

The cut and color of a vintage diamond can give you hints to its history and create a brilliantly beautiful vintage diamond engagement ring! The perk of going vintage not only means you are recycling metals and stones, but you are purchasing a ring that no one else in the world will have. You can't get cooler than that! 

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