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Old mine Diamonds History Explained

Edmund Brunetti

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The old mine term history

Diamonds were being used as objects of beauty for thousands of years. They were first used in their rough form and embellished mostly by royalty or aristocrats of the time.

Utilizing rough diamonds was the only option until people started to realize that diamonds can be cut by other diamonds only. This changed with the discovery of the graining directions and the ability to cleave diamonds into different parts.

Around seven centuries ago faceting was discovered and a few centuries of natural evolution brought what is presently known as old mine cuts.

When Old mine diamonds were first cut

First came the simple point cut which was possible after cleavers discovered that splitting irregular rough shapes into the diamond natural octahedron form allowed a certain play-of-light which made a whole visual difference and importance.

Further evolution for about 300 years brought a Venetian lapidary by the name of Vincenzo Peruzzi to develop the Peruzzi Cut or what we know today as the old mine cut diamond made of the standard 58 facet brilliant cut.

Where did Old mine cut diamonds cut

Throughout the Middle Ages, the entry into Europe for diamonds from India was through the historic port of Venice, so it is assumed that the first cutting of diamonds originated in Venice.

Historic literature shows us also that early diamonds cutting was also practiced in the Belgian city of Bruges which was located near the North sea where many trading ships from venice would unload their riches.

Where was the first discoveries of rough diamonds?

Historically the first diamond were discovered on the Indian continent, more so in Hyderabad where the Golconda region is located.

A lot of their historic information regarding their discoveries, trading practices, transport routing are well documented in Jean Baptiste Tavernier's account of his 17th century travels to India, “The Six Voyages of Jean Baptiste Tavernier”. I warmly recommend reading to any gem enthusiastic.

When were old mine cutting was stopped (1919) and why

At around the latter part of the 19th century a Bostonian cutter by the name of Henry Morse developed the round brilliant diamond to his optical preference, this cut was later known as the American cut and was mainly supplied to US jewelers such as Tiffany’s etc…

It wasn't until the early 20th century (1919) when Belgian mathematician Marcel Tolkowsky documented specific angles and proportions in his Diamond Design treatise.

Historically, Tolkowsky’s design was what became the norm in regards to the round brilliant cut ending the century’s long practice of what today is called the old mine cut diamonds.

Finding Old mine diamonds today

The majority of original Old Mine Diamonds found today are either still in their original antique jewelry or sold by specialty gem traders who specialize in the antique niche.

Their availabilities are extremely limited, which only add to their mysterious and storied allure. In recent years, some new cutters have been offering what seems to be old mine cut diamonds but unfortunately cutting these to standard 20th century proportions doesn't really bring their old look and feel old mine cut diamonds are famous for.

To locate nicely cut old mine cuts one must educate themselves on the special little nuances that come with this wonderful world of period cuts diamonds


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