The question most frequently asked of our jewelry experts at Lang is "what is the difference between antique cut and contemporary cut diamonds?" The answer is to be found primarily in the fascinating historical and technological evolution that has taken place at the cutting wheel. For centuries diamond cutters have applied different approaches and techniques, by hand, to the ancient rough crystals that come from the earth. Most of the Lang collection dates from the late 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, a period of time that beautifully encapsulates a range of artful and inventive techniques used to bring out the best in each unique diamond crystal. Unlike contemporary diamond cutting, which primarily uses machines and endeavors to create a reliably identical product on a mass-produced scale, the diamonds of the past differ from those of the present and also from one another. Their captivating subtleties, coupled with their increasing rarity, makes their unique charms highly desirable and sought after.
Rose Cut Diamonds
Developed in the 1500s, this pretty cut is named for its likeness to the bloom of a rose. They have a flat bottom and domed top, and with as many as 24 facets, impart a soft diffused light. They are prized for their feminine, romantic subtlety and are typically to be found in our Georgian and early Victorian era pieces.
Mine Cut Diamonds
From 18th Century Europe, Mine Cuts, also referred to as Antique Cushion Cuts, are the forefathers of the Modern Round Brilliant Cut. These lively cuts are not round, however. The edge (or 'girdle') of the diamond forms a soft square or cushion shape. They were crafted with a variety of facet patterns, but always with a small table, high crown and large culet. These innovations resulted in diamonds that are especially breathtaking when viewed under the candlelit conditions typical of the 18th to mid 19th centuries, before the advent of electricity.
European Cut Diamonds
The late 1800's was a thrilling time of great technical innovation in diamond cutting. Mechanical cutting devices were introduced that aided diamond cutters in their pursuit of a rounder, more symmetrical and more brilliant cut. This dovetailed beautifully with the innovations happening in fine jewelry making as well, resulting in fine jewels of extraordinary quality and refinement. European Cuts are often spoken of in the context of a timeline of development that culminates in the Modern Round Brilliant Cut, and they possess characteristics of both the Mine Cuts and Modern Round Brilliant Cuts. They are well-represented in the Lang collection, as their captivating beauty is featured in a wide assortment of Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco jewelry.
Modern Round Brilliant Cut Diamonds
The first quarter of the 20th century saw the introduction of the Modern Round Brilliant Cut, but it wasn't widely used in jewelry until 1940's. It quickly became the standard, most popular way to cut diamonds and endures to this day, wherein its' proportions and facet arrangements have been mathematically perfected. Like the European Cut, it has a circular girdle and 58 facets. However, the larger table size and absence of a flat culet maximizes the diamond's ability to produce fire and brilliance, as it allows more light to be returned to the eye of the viewer without interference. These dazzling diamonds are to be found in Retro, Mid-Century and Contemporary pieces in the Lang collection.
Fancy Shaped Diamonds
'Fancy' is the category name that includes every diamond shape that is not round. They also have a long rich history and the Lang collection contains many superlative antique and modern examples.
The 4C's Of Diamond Buying
The popular expression 'the 4C's' refers to the most significant factors used in classifying diamonds: Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight. These four factors combine to determine every diamond's beauty, rarity and value.
Diamonds occur naturally in a wide variety of colors, but the subtle variations in white colorless diamonds led the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to create a color scale that begins at the letter D and moves through the English alphabet to the letter Z. Diamonds with higher color than Z are considered as Fancy colored diamonds. Fancy colored diamonds come in all different colors and are quite rare. To color grade diamonds, our highly trained team of on-site gemologists use a controlled lighting environment and master color grading diamonds for comparison.
When we speak of Clarity we are referring to the purity of the diamond. Diamonds are formed deep in the earth and are subject to tremendous heat and pressure which cause internal inclusions and external blemishes. Most diamonds have inclusions and key identifying characteristics and very few are flawless. We identify and grade diamonds based on these characteristics specific to their size, nature and location in/on the stone. Diamonds are graded by skilled gemologists with 10X magnification using a binocular microscope or 10X loupe with optimum lighting conditions.
The grading categories range from flawless to imperfect, and use these abbreviations:
|Internally Flawless||Very Very Slightly Included||Very Slightly Included||Slightly Included||Included|
Cut does not refer to the shape of a diamond, but to the angles and proportions of facet arrangements, as well as the polished finish and symmetry of the diamond. The optical attributes of the diamond influenced by cut are Brightness, Fire and Scintillation.
Carat is the unit used to measure a diamond's weight, not its' size. Carats are measured in fractions, with 100 "points" to a carat. So, for example, one carat is written as 1.00, 3/4 of one carat is written as .75 carat.