One of the oldest gemstone cuts, a cabochon-cut stone has been shaped and polished without any facets.
The Emerald Cut
First noted in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gifted Mary of Burgundy with an emerald-cut diamond engagement ring, emerald-cut stones remain popular to this day. The emerald cut is a type of step cut, typically a rectangle with rectangular facets. Its cropped corners give the cut a fantastic architectural look that has led to its enduring popularity.
The Rose Cut
Popular from the 1800s through the 1900s, the rose cut is one of the very oldest faceted stone cuts. Often described as a "faceted cabochon-cut stone," the rose cut, unlike a modern gemstone cut has a flat base and a faceted domed top, causing it to appear like a rose about to unfurl its petals. Rose cuts are very shallow, so at first glance, the stones often look twice their weight.
The Old Mine Cut
Old mine-cut stones date from the mid-1800s through the 1900s and are most often found in Georgian and Victorian jewelry. Primarily hand cut with the aid of early machines, old mine-cut stones are uniquely beautiful. As a predecessor to both the old European cut and the brilliant cut, from the top they look like a gently rounded square. Because the old mine cut was deep, the stones have a high crown, small table, and flat culet.*
The Old European Cut
The old European cut dates from the 1870s through the 1930s. This cut was popular during the Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco Eras. One of Isadoras' very favorite cuts, the old European-cut diamond is round when viewed from above. Like the old mine-cut diamond, the old European-cut diamond has a high crown, small table, and flat culet.* This cut has 58 facets and precedes the modern brilliant-cut diamond. The differences between an old European cut and a brilliant cut are subtle but distinct. Both cuts exhibit a beautiful sparkle, but an old European cut draws the eye inward, while the gleam of the brilliant cut tends to have outward movement.
The Transitional Cut
The transitional cut dates from approximately 1918 through the 1920s and was perfected by Henry Morse and his partner Charles Field, who established the first diamond cutting factory in the United States. The transitional-cut diamond is a round, faceted-cut with consistent proportions. As an evolution of the old European cut, the transitional cut (sometimes known as the early American cut) has a lower crown, medium table, shorter pavilion, and smaller culet* than that of the old European cut.
The Early-Modern Brilliant Cut
The brilliant cut was invented in 1919 by Marcel Tolkowsky. For the first time, very specific proportions and mathematical computations were applied to the cutting of stones in order to create maximum brilliance and dispersion of light. The early modern brilliant cut has continued to evolve since its creation and is one of the most popular cuts of stone to this day.
The Princess Cut
The princess cut is similar to the brilliant cut, but rather than being round it is square. This modern cut is not found in antique and vintage pieces.
If you love a square look but want a vintage stone, we recommend purchasing an illusion-set ring. The illusion setting is simply a square setting for a round stone and was highly popular from the 1920s through the 1950s. You will usually find an old European cut, transitional cut, or early-modern brilliant-cut diamond set in the illusion setting, which not only gives the round stone a square look but makes the diamond appear larger in size.
The French Cut
The French cut is a fantastic square cut that we rarely find but absolutely adore. There is a dispute about when this cut was first invented, but there is no dispute that its popularity surged during the Art Deco Era. The French cut looks like a square from above, the facets creating the look of a four-pointed star.
The Asscher Cut
Developed in 1902, the Asscher cut was popular during the Art Deco Era for its geometric form and square or rectangular step-cut shape with wide corners. The crown is usually very high with a small table and large culet. Since only the most expert cutters crafted Asscher cuts, only the finest stones were used. Vintage Asscher-cut diamonds are almost always exceptional and are considered one of the rarest and most beautiful diamonds. When cutting the diamond much of the stone is lost, which is why the Asscher cut is so rare and those in existence are deemed so valuable.
*A Note About Culets
If you are looking at an older diamond and you see a tiny dot in the very center of the stone, you have located the culet. One of the idiosyncrasies of older-cut stones, particularly old European cuts and old mine cuts, is the existence of a culet. Modern stones come to a point at the very base of the diamond. However, with older stones, a facet was created where that point now exists. Often, the older the stone, the larger the culet.