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5 Things You Need to Know About Old Mine Cut Diamonds

What is an old mine cut diamond? Learn the 5 things you need to know about this antique diamond style and how to find the best one for your engagement ring.

By Stephanie Dore

Sometimes, old stuff is just old. It’s dusty, and worn, and just plain past its prime. But then there’s the hidden treasures. Like scoring the Gucci or Prada buried deep in the racks of your favorite thrift shop, finding an antique diamond you love is a mission not for the faint of heart. But it can definitely be worth your while if you’re into vintage style that stands out from the department store diamond crowd. Enter, the old mine cut diamond. What exactly is this mysterious diamond cut that sounds like it came straight out of an old talkie film? We’re about to break it down. Here’s 5 things you should know about old mine cut diamonds before you buy.

Hillary Kerr's Old Mine Cut
diamond engagement ring
Hillary Kerr’s Old Mine Cut
Engagement Ring
Credit: Who What Wear

They’re Old

A mainstay of the 18th and 19th centuries, old mine cut diamonds, aka miner’s cut, are known as such because they came from “old mines” in India or Brazil, before newer mines started popping up in Africa. Each one was hand cut and polished to best use its diamond rough, before diamonds were machine-cut in the late 19th, early 20th centuries. Because of this, they are much less precise and have way more personality. They have 58 facets, a squarish outline, and predate the old European cut (another name you’ll definitely see on the antique diamond scene that has a round outline). 

They’re Rare

Like other old school diamond cuts, you’re not going to find a bunch of old mines listed on every dot com diamond site, so finding one—and in particular, a good one—can be a challenge. The best way? Hand. Me. Downs. If you’ve got one of these unique diamonds in the family, give it a second glance. You can always have a talented jeweler reset it in something that suits your modern style. The contrast of an old diamond in a modern setting is one of our favorite looks, in fact. Or start hunting antique houses and antique gem dealers online. Just remember to get a good look at the product before you start cashing in and make sure it’s something you really love, since each one is unique!

Champagne Old Mine Cut diamond
Champagne Old
Mine Cut

They’re Cheap-ish

Old mine cut diamonds, for the most part, are pretty affordable. They are priced based on the same 4Cs as modern diamonds, but because their quality tends to be on the lower end of the scale (a lot of the higher color/clarity stones have been recut to reflect today’s standards), they’re usually more affordable. You will, however, find the occasional antique stone that will command higher collector-worthy pricing, so as always, just know what you’re looking for and set your budget accordingly. 

They’re Sustainable

Hate the idea of buying a brand new diamond? Don’t understand the labs? Antique diamonds might be the way to go. While lab-grown diamonds have come a long way in the last few years, especially when it comes to sustainability concerns, an old mine cut diamond is like the ultimate reduce, reuse, recycle when it comes to still putting dollars down on an engagement ring (rather than foregoing the tradition altogether). Whether you keep them in their original settings or pair them with some modern metal, an antique diamond can keep your conscience a little clearer if that’s important to you.

natalie portmans old mine cut engagement ring
Natalie Portman’s Old Mine
Cut Engagement Ring

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/
Getty Images
natalia portmans four carat old mine cut engagement ring
Natalie Portman’s
Old Mine Cut
Credit: Natalie Portman’s Instagram

They’re Not Sparkly

Old mine cut diamonds were cut to make the best use of their raw material and to shine in candlelight, not modern fluorescent bulbs. They have larger facets, smaller tables, and pretty noticeable culets (if you look straight through the table of the diamond, you’ll see a dark circle at the center). Along with that, you’ll notice that, from the side, they are significantly taller, so you’re not going to get that super low-profile look. Basically, they’re cut for fire—probably closest to a modern cushion, if you need a comparison—and will show rainbow flashes instead of bright white brilliance. They also tend to be found in warmer colors (think more in the J-K range) that look gorg in yellow gold. This softer look is really part of the appeal, so if it’s scaring you, it might not be your match.

I SI Old Mine Cut
J VS2 Old Mine Cut
I VS1 Old Mine Cut
J SI2 Old Mine cut

Ready to Take it Back to the Old School?

Here at Frank Darling, we love recycled diamonds, and we’re more than happy to help you find one for your dream ring. If you want to work out a style first, try our design quiz to get a free sketch, then book a consult to chat with our experts about diamond options to complete your look. 

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