Vintage Wedding

Old European–Cut Diamonds: The Complete Guide

If you fall into the camp of brides-to-be who prioritize a vintage engagement ring, the old European-cut diamond ought to be at the tip-top of your list. This style has a cult following among antique lovers and has come back into the spotlight, thanks to celebrities like Mary-Kate Olsen, Miley Cyrus, Scarlett Johansson, and Olivia Wilde who have all endorsed the historic stone silhouette.

What Is an Old European–Cut Diamond?

An old European-cut diamond has a round shape featuring 58 large facets and a small circle in the center (the open culet). The majority of these stones were cut by hand between 1890 and the 1930s.

“These stones were taken from the rough and were measured, cleaved, and cut by hand,” says Ashley Zhang, jewelry designer and founder of Ashley Zhang Jewelry. “During the majority of this time, candlelight was the main source of light in use so diamonds were cut to maximize their sparkle for this type of lighting.”

Meet the Expert

Ashley Zhang is a jewelry designer whose eponymous label is composed of pieces that are made to order in New York City. Zhang studied at Parsons School of Design and launched her first collection in February 2018.

Old European-cut diamonds were popular during the Victorian, Edwardian, and art deco periods and predate the popular round brilliants of today. Often, you’ll see art deco and vintage influence when shopping for this style of ring, and it makes for a stunning vintage engagement ring look.

Pros and Cons of the Old European Cut

If seeking out a lower-cost diamond is on your ring checklist, you’re in luck. “Old European-cut diamonds are usually priced lower than a modern round brilliant,” says Zhang.

Another benefit of old Europeans is that they tend to appear whiter than their certified color grade. “When diamonds are graded by color, they are turned upside down and looked at from the side,” Zhang says. “Since old European-cut diamonds were produced in a time period with lower lighting (candlelight), they were cut to maximize color over brilliance.”

Unfortunately, this cut is a bit harder to shop for online. Due to the artisanal techniques these diamonds were cut with, each stone can look slightly different. “I don’t recommend shopping for an old European-cut diamond by looking at the certificate alone,” Zhang explains. “You need to see how it looks in person.”

They have a shallower proportion that can make your diamond appear larger for its carat weight. “Any time you are looking at the proportions of a diamond you need to make sure they are not too extreme to the point where you are losing sparkle,” she adds.

What to Look for in an Old European Cut

  • What settings work best with an old European cut? “My clients tend to choose a more simplified setting when working with an antique diamond because they don’t want any design elements to distract from the uniqueness of their stone,” says Zhang. That’s not to say that a more ornate setting won’t work with this cut. In fact, you may run into more unique settings with old Europeans, as they were popular during the art deco period. If you are looking for a simpler look, consider a solitaire setting. But for a bolder look, opt for a filigree or vintage setting.
  • Are all old European diamonds hand-cut? Yes, machine-cutting wasn’t available during the time old European diamonds were cut, which means that each diamond was handcrafted. That’s why you will never see two old European-cut diamonds that are exactly the same.
  • Where can I purchase this type of cut? Since old European-cut diamonds are considered antique, it can be a bit harder to find various options in this style. You will want to work with a seasoned jeweler who can help you seek out the old European-cut ring that best fits you.

How to Care for Your Old European Cut

When cleaning your old European-cut diamond, stay away from any harsh cleaning chemicals or detergents. Instead, stick to a combination of lukewarm water and gentle dish soap for your cleaning solution. When not wearing, store inside a cloth-lined box.

Old European cuts can have a tendency to chip over time, depending on the grade of the girdle. “This is the edge of the diamond between the crown (top of the diamond) and the pavilion (bottom of the diamond),” Zhang says. “This is the area most likely to get chipped.” The thinner the grade, the more likely the stone will chip.

Courtesy of Ashley Zhang


This traditional six-prong solitaire engagement ring is the perfect match for an old-meets-new aesthetic.

Courtesy of Isadora


This 1940s ring features an old European-cut stone accompanied by three smaller diamonds on each side for a sparkling effect.

Courtesy of Mark Broumand


For the bride looking for an art deco engagement ring with plenty of brilliance, this beauty does not disappoint.

Courtesy of Rosey West


For those looking to incorporate an old European-cut diamond into a three-stone ring, your search has come to a close.

Courtesy of Yates Jewelers


This striking ring, hailing from the 1920s, is a unique choice for the vintage-obsessed bride.

Courtesy of Sofia Kaman


An 18k gold band featuring a 1.05ct. old European-cut diamond mounted in a cushion frame setting. It’s as gorgeous as it sounds.

COURTESY OF RIVE GAUCHE JEWELRY


This bright white, old European-cut diamond shines with a weight of 1.37cts. The shank holds two equally white baguette-cut diamonds.

COURTESY OF ESTATE DIAMOND JEWELRY


A hint of color makes this art deco ring all the more unique. Two caliber-cut natural sapphires flank the center old European-cut diamond, and the band is sprinkled with more old-cut diamonds and filigree.

COURTESY OF THE BAND VAULT


Cluster diamonds surround this old European-cut diamond to create a floral-like design. The pavé band is crafted in Edwardian platinum.

COURTESY AJ MARTIN


The old European-cut diamond on this ring is held in four split prongs, and the band is a marvel in itself with alternating baguette-cut and rounded diamonds.

COURTESY OF LONG’S


Three stones are better than one with this triple old European-cut array of diamonds. The stones are set on a two-tone band.

While the old European diamond on this ring is undoubtedly impressive, the real star is the intricately engraved band that makes for an antique look.

COURTESY OF 1STDIBS


French art deco is the driving style of this ring. Its old European-cut diamond is held in an eight-prong setting with a pavé band.

COURTESY OF TRUMPET AND HORN


This art deco ring feels reminiscent of the jazz age with its milgrain details. Additional stacked rounded diamonds surround the center old European-cut diamond.

COURTESY OF DOYLE & DOYLE


This bezel-set old European-cut diamond is held in an ornately crafted 18K yellow gold band.

COURTESY OF BRILLIANT EARTH


You can’t go wrong with a timeless look, and this retro-era ring shows how classic can still look modern. The old European-cut diamond is set in a flared 14K white gold band.

COURTESY OF TRUMPET & HORN


This Trumpet & Horn ring holds all the glamor that comes with its namesake, Fifth Avenue. The set sparkles with a 2.17ct. old European-cut diamond. And the coolest part? It was designed by Tiffany & Co. in 1935.

COURTESY OF ETSY


Vintage from the 1970s, this art deco ring is a funky take on the classic engagement ring with its two-tone metal band. The old European-cut diamond is flanked with diamonds that lead into the beginning of the gold band.

COURTESY OF THE BACK VAULT


This one-of-a-kind engagement ring features several differently shaped diamonds. From baguette-cut to rounded, this old European-style ring has it all.

COURTESY OF FIRSTWHILE


This circa-1930 ring is still chic and modern today. Two baguette-cut diamonds are on both sides of the shoulders, and there is a 2.26ct. old European-cut diamond in the center.

COURTESY OF SOFIA KAMAN


The cinnamon-champagne color of this old European cut brings a feeling of warmth to the diamond. With a solitaire setting, this ring is a simple and sweet choice.

COURTESY OF ASHLEY ZHANG


This old European-cut diamond is beautifully placed in a bezel setting. With an open back, this diamond glitters like no other when it hits the light. Two smaller rounded diamonds accompany the center diamond on either side.