6 Tips For Buying Antique Diamonds: Know the 4 Cs

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by Suzanne Sachs 5 min read



Anyone in the market to buy an antique engagement ring will quickly learn the four Cs – color, cut, clarity, and carat – but antique diamonds are a bit different. The four Cs still apply to antique and vintage rings, but you need to carefully consider the special nature of these rings even as you evaluate the four Cs.


Why are Antique Engagement Rings Different?

While diamond engagement rings has been popular for centuries, the mining, cutting, polishing, and setting techniques to show diamonds to their greatest beauty is constantly evolving.

Antique diamonds may not have received the same treatment as modern stones, since different cutting tools, magnification devices, and other technology did not exist when antique stones were cut. Modern stones may also subject to different treatments and enhancements that were not used on antique diamonds. 

Furthermore, standards of taste, value, and fashion change over time, and diamonds that were most popular in bygone eras were measured by different characteristics than what may be most valued for modern jewelry. This can apply to any of the four Cs of diamond buying, and anyone looking for an vintage engagement ring must carefully consider the different expectations of different eras when judging stones. Antique diamonds, however, are no less lovely and elegant than any modern gem.

The following are a few key tips for buying a beautiful antique engagement ring.

Tip # 1 - Know The Antique Diamond Cuts

A diamond’s cut refers to the overall stone shape, including the number of facets incorporated into its surface to create inner brilliance. In general, antique diamonds have fewer facets and more diffuse internal light due to the cutting processes of the time. The first diamonds were cut in the 1300s, and today there are still new cut techniques being developed to create additional facets and add more sparkle to an individual stone.        


Tip # 2 - Which Cuts Are The Oldest

Some diamond shapes are much older and more commonly found in antique diamonds. Cuts such as the rose, old European, and mine cushion cut are very characteristic of antique gems. The round brilliant cut is a perennial favorite, but it too has evolved over time to incorporate more facets, and older round diamonds may seem less brilliant than modern cut stones of the same quality. 


Tip # 3 - Know the Step or Table Cut History

In some cases, as diamond shapes and cuts have been refined, their names have also changed. The step or table cut is more common in antique stones, but in the 1930s further refinement of this rectangular cut became known as the emerald cut, and the square version – the Asscher cut – wasn’t popular until the 1920s. Understanding the evolution of the of diamond cuts can help you better realize what cuts you may find in different eras of antique diamonds. 

Tip # 4 - Know Antique Diamond Clarity                    

The clarity of a diamond is a gauge of how many flaws, inclusions, or blemishes may be visible within or on the surface of the stone, generally when seen under 10x magnification. Modern stones may be specially cut or treated to minimize flaws, often with skilled lapidary techniques that may not have been available or widespread when antique stones were processed. In past eras, however, not all diamond flaws were considered problems. In fact, some flaws were showcased into stones to highlight their uniqueness and individuality, adding to the charm of an individual stone. Today, however, modern tastes prefer more uniform, flawless stones. It is also important to remember that antique diamonds may naturally show more flaws on their surfaces from decades, even centuries, of wear. While this may seem to create a less valuable stone, it actually demonstrates the long history of an antique diamond and the many rich layers of its personal story.  


Tip # 5 - Carat Weight of Antique Diamonds   

Carat weight varies widely in any age, whether for antique diamonds or modern stones. Many antique diamonds, however, were overall smaller in carats, but set into elaborate, fanciful settings such as with Edwardian engagement rings or Victorian engagement rings, which highlight the stone without the need for additional carats to add to its distinctiveness. Large stones are naturally more dramatic, and are often mounted in less elaborate settings so as not to detract from their unusual carat weight. Instead, large antique stones may showcase different cuts more clearly, adding to their vintage appeal.               

Tip # 6 - Know The Fifth C of Antique Diamonds      

There is a fifth “C” of antique diamonds, one that must not be overlooked – character. These stones have rich histories and may showcase the values and preferences of a wide range of eras. A vintage ring may have a personal connection and be part of a family’s history, or could have distant connections to royalty, historic events, or far-flung destinations. These stones may show more wear or look different from modern diamonds, but that does not detract from their beauty, longevity, or the symbolism they can bring to your jewelry collection.   

Antique Rings For Everyone:

No matter which shape is your favorite, these time-honored rings have a rich history and individualized character and will continue to have a timeless beauty and elegant appeal that is part of a legacy to pass on to future generations.

Find The Perfect Engagement Ring:

Antique rings are prized not only for their beauty but also for their exquisite attention to detailing and design. If you’re looking for a ring with a sense of glamour, sophistication and vintage charm, explore our collection of vintage engagement rings today!

Suzanne Sachs

Suzanne has always believed vintage rings can change lives. She's been in the jewelry industry for over 35 years, working with vintage jewelers, diamond dealers, diamond cutters, and gemologists. Suzanne started Artdecodiamonds in 2000 and understood the demand for vintage rings throughout the world. Suzanne ultimately started in 2014, and understands each vintage ring is a reflection of you – your history, your relationships, your style, your elegance and is honored to have the opportunity to help you showcase your flair in a unique and exquisite way.


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