What Is a European Cut Diamond

Most people have heard about the “4 Cs” of diamond quality: color, cut, clarity and carat. These important characteristics help determine the value of a diamond before purchasing or selling a piece of jewelry or even a loose stone.

However, unless you’re in the business, you rarely hear words like culet, pavilion, crown and girdle. These terms have to do with how the diamond is cut and shaped—a process that has changed significantly over the centuries.

Hand-cut diamonds are a thing of the past.

It’s hard to imagine a time when diamonds were cut by hand, but prior to the late 1800s and early 1900s, that was how things were done. There was no modern machinery yet that could do the delicate work of cutting a diamond, so it was performed by hand (a process called bruting).

For this reason, the majority of hand-cut diamonds you will see today are considered “vintage cuts.” Few modern jewelers will take the extra time to cut their diamonds by hand, because doing so can take weeks and rarely results in a flawless diamond.

A European cut diamond is an example of a vintage cut diamond.

Sometimes referred to as “Old European” or simply “Old Euro” diamonds, they are the considered predecessor of today’s modern round brilliant cut diamond and were extremely popular in the early 1900s.

Both the European diamond and the brilliant cut diamond have 58 facets each, the big difference being that the facets on the former are thicker and more triangular, while the facets on the latter are ultra-thin and designed for maximum shimmer.

European diamonds are said to have an “inner fire,” because of the way they capture and reflect light—in a softer, more subtle way that seems to make the stone glow from the inside rather than project a dazzling sparkle. Again, this has to do with the way it’s been cut.

How can I recognize a European cut diamond?

If you’re wondering whether or not you have a European cut diamond in your collection, here are a few key characteristics to look for:

  • The culet (the facet at the bottom of the diamond) will be wide and flat, meaning it is cut straight across instead of coming to a point. Because of this, it can been seen when peering down through the top of the diamond.
  • The table (the facet at the top of the diamond in the center) will be very small.
  • The girdle, the thin facet that encircles the diamond and separates the crown (the top part of the diamond between the girdle and the table) from the pavilion (the bottom part of the diamond between the girdle and the culet) is frosted. This is the case with most vintage diamonds and it gives the girdle a rougher, unfinished look.
  • The crown is taller.

Why choose a European cut diamond today?

Nowadays, most vintage cut diamonds you find will appear in estate pieces, or they have been removed from other pieces (such as antique brooches or necklaces) and reset.

One of the biggest draws of a European diamond is its uniqueness; because they are cut by hand, no two are alike. Often, a few imperfections is worth having a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry.

Like most diamonds mined in the 18th and 19th centuries (before the South African diamond mines were even discovered), European cut diamonds are conflict free. Their rarity has made them more valuable over time, and yet they still typically cost less than new, laser-cut diamonds.

Many diamond lovers also prefer the soft glow of a European cut diamond over the glitter of a brilliant cut diamond.

Bring your vintage cut diamond to Southwest Jewelry Buyers.

Do you have a European cut diamond you’re looking to sell? Call us today at 480.773.8004 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment and meet with a GIA-certified jewelry buyer to sell your diamonds.

Though we specialize in one-carat diamonds and larger, Southwest Jewelry Buyers will happily purchase anything a half carat or more. With minimal exceptions, we buy most diamond cuts and shapes.