Antique Diamonds

Posted by Ellen Hoffman on

What are antique diamonds?

Antique diamonds are stones cut by hand, before the invention of power-driven machinery in the late 1800s.  Because diamonds are the hardest natural material on the planet, they require great effort to grind and polish by hand.  Therefore, these stones generally have fewer facets (faces) and generally conform to the shape of a stone as it was found.  The modern round brilliant, by contrast, has a standard 58 facets and an established set of proportions.  Although up to 50 percent of the stone's weight is consumed in the cutting process, modern stones have much more sparkle and brilliance than antique cuts.  The question is:  What is the definition of beauty in a diamond?  Must it be solely how brilliant it is?  Or can it be warmth, romance, character and charm coming from an appreciation of what nature has given us?  If it's  the latter, then antique diamonds are clearly the winners.  Antique diamonds embody Wabi Sabi principles, explained here.

Antique diamond pricing

Antique diamonds come in a wide range of prices, and the prices depend on quality and size just as with modern stones.  Certain stones have enormous appeal to those who appreciate and know about them. They may command premium prices because of their uniqueness and rarity, regardless of the grading they receive.  A diamond's true value depends on perceived beauty, not necessarily mathematical perfection. 

Antique diamonds are priced lower, size for size, because they often have lower numbers in cut, clarity, and color (according to modern grading standards used by the labs that certify stones).That doesn't mean that they aren't beautiful; it just means that they measure lower on the scale by which modern diamonds are measured. 

Advantages of antique diamonds

 Besides lower cost, antique diamonds have several other major advantages over modern stones:  They are rare (and becoming rarer);  they are beautiful;  they are charming and romantic; they are cut and polished by hand in the days before electrical machinery, thus preserving the human touch; they convey history; and finally, antique diamonds have no associations with political conflict and labor issues.  

What's the downside to antique diamonds?  

Because they are cut by hand, antique diamonds do not have the mathematically ideal proportions of modern cuts and therefore they are not as bright and sparkly.  They may have inclusions or internal features considered "flaws" by diamond graders (but appreciated by connoisseurs). They are the ideal stone for the kind of jewelry that Ricco creates. Since Ricco makes everything by hand, a handmade stone is a perfect complement to that style.

Whatever your choice of type of diamond, modern or antique,  the way to start is to decide on what you want to spend.   Once you choose a price range that you're comfortable with, I can let you know about stones that match your budget in whatever category you like.