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The Magical and Mystical Old European Cut Diamond

There’s something about the old European cut diamond that just hits different, darling. They’ve got that vintage appeal, after all. But it’s not just that. While they’re certainly not tipping the scales of trending these days, an antique old European diamond has flare. You know the kind — where people just can’t stop staring because your ring is popping off with personality. All aglow in the uber romantic light and whatnot. We’ll be the first to admit — there’s a mysterious magic to these original stunners that’s hard to explain. But you can bet we’re gonna try. 

Old European Cut Diamond Drip

So what exactly is an old European cut diamond, anyway? Well, the OG quite frankly. A direct predecessor to today’s modern round brilliant cut diamond, the old European was popular during the late 19th to early 20th centuries, during the Edwardian, Victorian, and Art Deco ish time periods for some design reference. And they’re different from old mine cuts in that Europeans are round. Old mine cuts (which came first) were more like a cushion, less perfected to be totally circular.

old european cut diamond three stone engagement ring
Old euros look stunning in a simple solitaire, but we love the vintage cut with step cut side stones, like this custom piece, for a totally Deco look.
round brilliant diamond solitaire ring
Modern round brilliant diamonds have uniform facets and a pointed culet, while old euros have a more open rounded culet you can see from the top view.

Basic Brilliance

Now, when we say “perfected” let’s just lower expectations for a sec, sweetie, as part of the appeal of an old European cut diamond is in fact in its imperfections. See, these diamonds were cut back when candlelight was all the rage (or the default, really), and by hand. Diamonds didn’t start being machine cut until mid-20th century, really. That means old Europeans will have more irregular facets, a larger culet, and a cut that showcases how the stone sparkles under candlelight, which is much more subtle than today’s super bright LEDs. So round, well, isn’t perfectly round, let’s say.

The Glow Up

In fact, it wasn’t until 1919 when our old friend Marcel Tolkowsky came along and created the basis for the next gen of modern round brilliance. But that doesn’t mean old Europeans don’t sparkle. They just pop with a bit more rainbow flash and subtlety than today’s uber-perfect, laser cut stones. Which is kind of their appeal. Nod to the celebs who are totally into this vintage look, like Kate Moss, Emily Blunt, and friends.

Emily Blunt Old European Cut Engagement Ring
Celebrities love to rock vintage rocks, like Emily Blunt’s stunning old european cut diamond engagement ring.
Photo courtesy of Glamour
While you won’t get those bright white brilliant flashes from an old euro, those mesmerizing chunky facets more than make up for it.

Sus Cut

One of the major downsides of shopping for antique diamonds of any shape is that you can’t rely on what you know about cut. You know, how we’re always telling you it’s the most important of the 4Cs because cut determines the sparkle of your stone? Yeah, that. Throw it out the window, darling. Because old European diamonds were cut by (and for) candlelight, they were often cut more to emphasize their colorlessness rather than to increase their brilliance. What that does give you is a diamond that might face up a bit more white than its color grade, but what it doesn’t give you is a reliable way to judge sparkle or overall appeal simply by its certificate or cut grade. 

Shape Shift

While many will still be given a cut grade, old European cut diamonds will generally fall more in the “good” to “very good” range. Don’t go below this. A “very good” graded old European will also tend to have a smaller table (that wide open facet on the top of your diamond), a larger culet (you’ll see a flat facet at the bottom, through the table), and a wider range of depths than a modern cut.

old european cut diamond three stone engagement ring
Old euros typically face up a lot whiter in person, but you may not achieve the same whiteness in a photograph as they don’t refract light as well as brilliant cuts!!

Get Your Old Euro On

Instead of relying on cut grade, we really recommend using your eyeballs (or ours!) to determine if you like the look of an old European or other antique cut diamond before putting any hard dollars down. If you can’t find one listed, one of your best resources, especially given the rarity of good-looking antique gems is our Diamond Concierge. What the heck is that? Well, it’s really a team of experts who are at your service (at no charge of course) to help source unique and rare stones that fit your dreams and your budget. 


One of the other major bonuses about old European cut diamonds is the whole environment factor. Because these stones are, by nature, basically like the ultimate recycling job. If you’re down to dig into an old European cut diamond for your own dream ring, explore our collection of more than 20,000 natural and lab grown diamonds. Or drop us a line at and our team of gemological wizards will get you all sorted. Just let us know what you’re looking for, and about what you’re wanting to spend.

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