Most people are attracted to antique cuts intuitively because of their characteristic retro vibe. Unfortunately, labs do not differentiate between modern and antique cuts, except for cushions. Today, the majority of antique cut diamonds on the market are modern replicas. However, this does not diminish their beauty and value. Antique cuts are scarce, so modern standards are not applicable in their evaluation.
Antique diamond cuts you should know about:
- Assher cut
- Antique cushion
- Old European cut
- French cut
- Single cut
Antique cuts are like orphans looking for a new home. They are steeped in fascinating history and charming traditions. Antique diamonds bring us closer to our roots, filling us with a sense of belonging to a bygone era.
Every antique diamond is unique. Their artisanal individuality makes up for mechanical precision. Antique diamonds were designed when candlelight was the primary source of indoor illumination, making them burst with intense fire.
When you compare a vintage diamond to a modern diamond, it’s easy to see the difference. Should the charming past radiating from every facet of an heirloom diamond be destroyed to increase the perceived value?
The answer is: No. Old cut stones are genuinely scarce and only get rarer with every passing day.
A recut diamond is identical to a diamond produced from rough yesterday. With the absence of a historical record, it’s impossible to tell when the stone has been cut.
Unfortunately, many of the world’s most famous and historic diamonds have been recut over the centuries of their lifetimes. Sometimes it was done to improve the appearance of stones, but more often to conceal their identity for criminal gain.
Antique diamonds offer timeless romantic appeal and dazzling fire. Unlike modern cuts, there are very few antique diamonds to choose from. An antique Asscher cut is undeniably the most beautiful of all antique diamonds. It is closely trailed by Antique Cushions and Old European cuts. The classic French cut is the absolute classic among accent stones.
An Asscher cut diamond seems to draw your eye to the center of the stone, to its magical depth, and the source of its incredible fire.
It is an octagonal cut with corners almost as wide as the sides, a small table, a high crown, and a deep pavilion. The table of an antique Asscher is typically less than 50%, with a total depth exceeding 70%, and with evenly spaced facet steps.
Antique Asschers come from estate jewelry and are hard to find. The True Antique Asschers are modern replicas of the antique cut. Both the antique Aschers and their replicas command premium prices due to their scarcity.
The Classic Asscher is a contemporary take on the antique Asscher cut. It mixes the wide-corner, small-table, uniform-facet concept with the low-crown, shallow-pavilion proportions of a contemporary emerald cut.
The Classic Asscher cut produced today is not as deep as the Antique cut. Its table hovers at around 60%, its depth is between 65% to 72%, its crown is lower, and the corners are not as wide.
Classic Asschers are reasonably priced, but they are in a limited supply and require a trained eye and lots of time and patience to distinguish them from modern Asschers.
The Royal Asscher Diamond Company was established in Amsterdam in 1854. Royal Asscher® is a patented brand owned by the company. The Royal Asscher® is a modern classic Asscher cut modified with two additional rows of pavilion facets. They are laser-inscribed with the brand’s logo and an identification number.
The Royal Asscher® is the only diamond that the GIA identifies as an Asscher cut on its certificates. All other Asscher cuts, including vintage and antique stones, are called a “square emerald cut” on GIA reports. Sold at a premium price, the beautiful Royal Asscher® is not superior to a well-executed Classic Asscher, which can rival the Royal cut in brilliance and fire.
A common square emerald cut is often called a modern Asscher. Using the term Asscher is misleading and deceptive since this modern cut lacks the mysterious elegance and finesse associated with the Asscher. A modern Asscher has tiny corners, a large table, and shallow depth. A typical depth is 60% to 70% and the table is 60% to 65%.
The Asscher cut is a step cut and requires superior clarity due to the higher visibility of even minor inclusions. Brilliant cuts are better at hiding inclusions with their brilliance. The recommended minimum clarity for an Asscher cut is VS1. Lower grades are acceptable for rare antique stones, such as the True Asscher cut.
Asscher cuts, just like other antique diamond cuts, tend to mask the diamond color and make it less noticeable. Therefore, warmer stones look more natural and face up whiter than expected.
The traditional classic Asscher is a square cut with a length-to-width ratio of approximately 1.00 to 1.06. An elongated Asscher with a ratio that’s longer than 1.1 is called the Krupp cut. The name comes from the emerald-cut diamond given to Liz Taylor by Richard Burton. He purchased it at the Krupp estate auction for $300k – it’s currently worth millions.
Joseph Asscher, the founder of the Royal Asscher Diamond Company, is famous for working with two of the largest diamonds in history: the 995-carat Excelsior and the 3,107-carat Cullinan.
King Edward VII contracted Joseph Asscher to cut the Cullinan. Joseph studied the enormous piece of rough for six months. He finally notched a groove at a carefully calculated spot in preparation for the big moment. At precisely 3:05 pm, he took a shot of Jägermeister, mumbled something in Yiddish and hit the cleaver, and immediately passed out. After regaining consciousness, he learned that the stone split into three pieces, all according to plan. Was it stress or too much Jäger responsible for his fainting? We’ll never know.
Joseph fashioned the Cullinan into 21 gems, ranging from less than a carat to 70+ carats rock. The stones cut from the Cullinan diamond, all flawless, are exhibited at the Crown Jewels collection at the Tower of London.
The Asscher cut was created by the diamond cutter Joseph Asscher. His Royal Asscher Diamond Company Ltd. was established in Amsterdam in 1854.
The extended Asscher family has a reputation for being excellent diamond cutters and polishers. They work with hard-to-cut odd-shaped rough and are known to produce beautiful gems.
At one time, the Asscher factory employed 500 people. In the old days, the polishing wheels powered by steam engines were attached to long shafts with leather belts. The driving shafts ran the entire length of the building. Even after the introduction of electricity, the original shafts were retained.
Classic (Antique) Cushions are rare, timeless, and sophisticated jewels. In the trade, they are known as Old Miners. The Antique Cushion’s high-contrast faceting mutes color perception, so they look whiter than their modern counterparts. The Antique Cushion’s prized mix of fragmented brilliance and extreme dispersion is also unmatched.
Cushion Brilliants are essentially round brilliants with a pillow-like shape. Their pavilion facets originate at the culet and extend to the girdle in a star-like fashion. A stone loses its spot on the top of cushion’s Mount Olympus and becomes Cushion Brilliant when it matches at least three of the following criteria:
– the table is over 53%
– the crown angle is over 40°
– lower halves are 60% or less
– the culet is slightly large
Cushion Modified combines radiant-cut facets with a cushion-shaped outline and soft, rounded corners. Modified Cushions have excessive brilliance without contrast, giving them a “crushed ice” look. Some facets terminate below the girdle. In places where the facets meet, they form bulges that complicate the ring’s construction and carry dead weight.
The traditional Antique Cushion cut diamond is a beautiful jewel. It has a pillow-shaped outline, soft, rounded corners, an open culet or a keel, a small table, and a high crown. The Classic Cushion comes with Old World flair and romantic appeal. Antique cushions are not necessarily old. Most Antique Cushions sold today are recently cut.
The Antique Cushion was the dominant diamond cut for centuries until the advent of the modern Round Brilliant, which is uniform, scalable, easy to make, sort, and use. By going back to Antique Cushion, we are able to revive and recapture the magic of the Golden Era.
Antique Cushion diamonds have superior dispersion, radiating an abundance of fire when lit by flickering candlelight. An Antique Cushion has an open culet, a high crown, and large facets – a perfect combination of sophisticated elements for a connoisseur seeking a diamond with character and pedigree.
Antique Cushions are closer to Step-Cut diamonds in the way they transform light. They don’t have the dreaded “crushed ice” look of Modern Cushions.
Antique Cushions are classified as Old Mine Brilliants on GIA lab reports.
The Old European (or simply European) Cut is a vintage Round Brilliant Cut. It became popular in the late 19th century when its predecessor, the Old Mine Cut, lost its Cushion shape and became round thanks to the invention of the bruting machine. The Old European Cut retained the rest of the Old Miner’s charms – the high crown, small table, and open culet.
The Modern Round Brilliant is a direct descendant of the European Cut. Both have the same round shape and 57 facets, not counting the culet. The proportions and angles have, however, changed drastically.
The current proportions of the Modern Brilliant inspired Marcel Tolkowsky, Henry Morse, and others to experiment with angles and facets searching for the ideal round cut.
Today, Old European Cut diamonds are found in vintage jewelry. They usually have poor symmetry and low color, and they are sometimes mistaken for antique cushions.
Like its predecessor, the Old Miner, the Old European Cut features spectacular “inner fire” by design.
Back when warm, flickering candlelight illuminated the 19th-century ballrooms, the Old European’s dramatic inner fire was a diamond’s most desired property. In later decades, when wearing diamonds outdoors became common, the emphasis shifted to cuts that maximize brilliance rather than fire.
- Old European Cut diamonds have small tables and relatively high crowns.
- There is always an open, often a large culet. The culet size may vary, but it is usually large enough to be seen with a naked eye.
- The Old European diamonds are not perfectly round. Cutting diamonds by hand often resulted in an off-round shape.
- The girdle of the old-euro is usually bruted. Its frost-like appearance is different from the clear faceted girdle of a modern diamond.
A Round diamond has to meet 3 out of 4 benchmarks to be certified as an Old European Cut by the GIA:
-A table size of less than or equal to 53%,
-A crown angle of 40 degrees or more,
-A lower half facet length of 60% or less,
-An open culet.
GIA treats an Old European diamond as a fancy shape and does not evaluate its cut. However, Old Europeans are considered to be Round Brilliants in the diamond trade. The round shape is significantly more expensive than any fancy shape.
The first Brilliants, known as “Mazarins,” were introduced in the 17th century. Uniform diamond cuts did not exist until then, so each diamond had highly irregular shapes and a jumble of facets.
Before the invention of the diamond saw, a single piece of rough yielded just one stone. The European Cut was given a high crown, a small table, and an open culet to maximize the yield. Skill and experience, rather than machinery and automation, give the Old European Cut a beautiful organic, artisan look. The imperfections add character and timeless charm that only one-of-a-kind diamonds possess.
Old European Cuts are no longer produced. They are a prized find by collectors and history buffs.
The Transition Cut also called the “American cut,” is a short-lived bridge between the Old European Cut and the Modern Brilliant. The experimental cut hosted a mix of modern and antique features in the same stone. The cut was invented in the 1870s by a Boston cutter and possibly a Red Sox fan. His name was Henry Morse, not to be confused with Samuel Morse, the inventor of the Morse code systems. Henry told everyone that a diamond’s beauty is more valuable than the rough yield. His goal was to find the most flattering proportions that return maximum light from inside a diamond. The diamantaires before him always strived to waste as little rough as possible during cutting. Henry, however, decided to go against the grain and waste as much rough as necessary to achieve the most sparkle.
The Jubilee diamond cut is usually reserved for large diamonds. It empowers a diamond to shine spectacularly. Compared to the round brilliant’s 58 facets, the Jubilee cut features 88 (sometimes 80) facets. Because it’s not deep and has no culet, the Jubilee has a glittering effect second to none. It is one of the brightest cuts you can find and also extremely rare.
The French cut diamonds originated in the 14th century, and their name reflects the fact that they first became popular in France. They are evolved from the old Table cut. The Scissors cut is a variety of French cut with a slightly more elaborate faceting.
A French cut diamond can be easily recognized by a rhomboid table turned 90 degrees to the diamond’s outline. The shape is usually square but can be rectangular or even trapezoid. The pavilion of a French cut diamond is split into four plain facets, sometimes divided in half.
A French cut has a small table created by slicing one end of a well-formed octahedral crystal, and its edges have smaller facets added for extra brilliance.
The French cut is a marvel of elegance. The French cut came into fashion in the 17th century and has been used in high-end jewelry ever since. The name reflects the fact that these diamonds were favored by French jewelers. The French cut is a result of the evolution of the primitive Table cut diamond.
French Cuts are primarily found in antique jewelry. Currently, there is a very limited production, mainly from a rare type of diamond rough – the well-formed octahedral crystals. Unfortunately, the yield is low, which results in a higher per-carat price.
Top jewelry houses quickly absorb the small quantities available, so finding the French cut diamonds on the open market is nearly impossible.
Another factor limiting the broad adoption of French cuts is their lack of uniformity. A wide variety of faceting styles and proportions prevents mixing various outputs in the same layout. The French cuts are mainly used as accents in groups called layouts and not individually.
Antique-style French cut diamonds are produced using a well-formed octahedron rough. The modern French cuts are often produced by recutting baguettes and princess cuts and thus have a low crown and a large table.
The French Cuts were extremely popular at the beginning of the 20th century during the Art Deco era featured prominently in the works of the top jewelers at the time. The Art Deco movement, with its emphasis on the pure geometrical forms, provided fertile ground for the wide use of French cuts in jewelry designs.
The Rose Cut is one of the oldest diamond cuts. It became widespread in the 1500s and remained popular until the early 1900s when more complicated and precise cuts were developed.
Picture a flat round diamond with a bulging pavilion and a giant table. Flip it upside down, and you’ve got yourself a Rose Cut diamond. It’s an equivalent of a cabochon in diamonds.
Owing to its shape, carat-for-carat Rose Cut diamonds face up larger than any other diamond cut. This makes the Rose Cut an attractive purchase for those harboring a beer budget and a taste for vintage wine.
The crown of a Rose Cut is dome-shaped, formed by the facets meeting at the center. The Rose Cut reacts very differently to light than other diamonds because of its flat bottom and shallow depth. The absence of a pavilion results in washed-out luster and dull brilliance.
A Rose Cut diamond crown has six triangular facets that resemble the petals of an unfolding rosebud. Perhaps having a drink can help you make the same connection. A conventional Rose Cut diamond crown has six triangular facets arranged in a hexagon and small triangular facets completing the second row. Large stones have as many as seven or eight rows of facets.
Rose Cuts come in many shapes, although the majority are round.
Variations include the Briolette, a hexagonal Antwerp Rose, and a Double Dutch Rose, which resembles two Rose cuts united back-to-back. A Rose with a large table is called a portrait diamond.
Rose Cut diamonds are timeless – it’s a pretty cut that gives any jewel a unique vintage feel. They can be used in any piece of jewelry and are exceptionally graceful in earrings, pendants, and necklaces.
The Rose Cut enjoyed a resurgence in popularity when Jennifer Anniston was proposed to with an 8-carat Rose Cut solitaire which sparked a short-lived renaissance. It’s still trendy and widely used in inexpensive fashion jewelry.
The Single Cut is one of the oldest diamond cuts. It is a very simple cut, essentially an upgrade from the Table Cut, which the Point Cut preceded. The Point Cut diamond is a naturally formed octahedron crystal polished but not faceted. With the advancement of diamond cutting techniques, the square Table cut gave way to the octagonal Single Cut.
Single Cuts rose to prominence in the 1920s. They were common accent stones in Art Deco pieces that saw extensive use of antique cut diamonds.
They are easy to tell apart – the Modern Single Cuts do not have open culets.
Antique diamonds were cut by hand under dim light, so they were malformed, ill-proportioned stones with uneven facets and poor symmetry. Some think this was the secret of their charm, but others disagree. Today, Antique Single Cuts are found filling up tight spots in vintage jewelry.
Modern Single Cuts are fashioned using high-precision technology. They have perfect symmetry and command a premium price.
It depends. If stones smaller than 1.2 mm are used, Single Cut diamonds look better. Single Cut diamonds match well with Antique Cut center stones. Antique replicas and bespoke jewelry can all benefit from using Single Cut stones. Using a Single Cut in modern bridal jewelry is usually an unnecessary expense because they are premium stones. Single Cut diamonds are more expensive than Full Cuts and are in limited supply.
The diamonds used in modern jewelry are typically Full Cut diamonds. Each tiny stone is the replica of a large round brilliant. As the diamond’s size gets smaller, its facets shrink so much that its reflections blend into a single point of light. In other words, they lose their brilliance which is the diamond’s ability to blink.
On the other hand, the facets of a similar-sized Single Cut are three times larger. This gives a Single Cut superior brilliance when they are tiny.
Today, Single Cuts are used exclusively in ultra-high-end jewelry pieces and hands and dials of luxury watches. Single Cuts burst with brilliance and fire – they form a repeating pattern of facet reflections giving pavés a fabric-like texture.
The first Pear Shape was invented in the mid-15th century by a Flemish cutter, Lodewyk van Bercken. The cut was a variation of a Rose Cut but with a point.
The True Antique Pears are not Briolettes or Rose Cuts. Instead, they have tables, crowns, and pavilions. Their point is usually blunted or even rounded, and they have large open culets.
They are hard to come by, and if you ever find one, do not let these marvelous and unique stones out of your sight.
Often creating an illusion of a larger size, the “Moval” or antique marquise shape is the universal symbol of opulence and glamour. It straddles the shapes between an oval and marquise. Its gracefully elongated shape is very rare and desirable, typical of the Art Deco period.
Europeans learned about the existence of briolettes in the 1600s when Jean-Baptiste Tavernier brought some from India to France. Louis IV, Marie Antoinette, Henry Philip Hope, Persian and English royalty owned and admired diamond briolettes. Unfortunately, briolettes were the first casualties of recutting old stones into modern cuts depriving the world of the ancient art form because the cut was deemed inefficient and wasteful.
It wasn’t until the Victorian and Art Deco periods that briolettes rose to prominence again. Once again, gems were being cut to new standards set in the diamond industry. Briolettes returned to the spotlight with a renewed appreciation for history, used by well-known designers, including Leon Mege. Their subtle beauty is proving to be timeless.
The most beautiful pillow-shaped diamond with large, stout facets, hypnotizing open culet, and regal pedigree.
An antique cushion cut diamond is a classic and timeless jewel. Its pillow-shaped outline, softly rounded corners, small table, high crown, and large open culet are easily distinguished from other diamond cuts. No other diamond cut can replicate the Antique Cushion’s prized mix of checkered brilliance and extreme dispersion.
Antique cushions are extremely rare. At any given moment, there are only a few antique cushions on the market for every thousand modern cushions. An antique cushion is the most desirable diamond cut used in high-end jewelry.
The fire of this precious prism of pure crystallized carbon is stunning during a candlelight dinner. The sparkle and scintillation in pure rays of sunlight leave other diamonds yellow with envy. On an overcast day, it will cradle your finger, permeating a soft glow and reminding you once again that you are loved by someone who knows that you are special.
Our True Antique™ cushions are a contemporary version of the Old Mine diamonds with perfect symmetry and excellent polish. It is the classic cushion cut that ruled the world until the round brilliant-cut was developed.
The world’s most famous diamonds, including the Hope Diamond, feature the same Old Mine cut as our antique cushions.
An antique cushion diamond always has an open culet. Most antique cushions have a high crown, a small table, and broad facets that are not as thin and stretched as modern ones. The traditional pillow-shaped outline conveys the appeal of a bygone era when diamonds were cut to burst alive with intense fire under the romantic glow of candlelight. In addition, antique cushions’ high-contrast faceting mutes the color perception, expanding the number of stones perceived as white.
True Antique cushion diamonds and other premium cuts like an Asscher are slightly more expensive than the rest of the fancy shapes but still significantly less expensive than round diamonds.
Cutting antique cushion diamonds requires specialized knowledge, tools, equipment, and techniques because of their extreme difficulty. It takes on average 30% longer to cut an antique cushion diamond. The same piece of rough yields about a 10-15% smaller antique cushion than a modified cushion. Our True Antique cushions are premium stones that command higher prices due to their exceptional beauty, higher production cost, and scarce inventory.
Leon Mege True Antique™ cushion diamonds are newly minted diamonds, not recycled vintage stones or old stones taken out of period jewelry.
True Antique™ cushions are currently produced in New York by an extended family of artisan diamantaires who has preserved the secrets of the antique faceting style through many generations.
Although not blood-related, we are honored to be a part of the family and closely collaborate for several decades to produce and popularize these rare gems.
Our True Antique™ cushions are cut entirely by hand and eye, using the same techniques diamonds were cut hundred of years ago.
GIA classifies the great majority of our antique cushions as the Old Mine cut. Some antique cushions cut from a flat rough and, therefore, with depth lower than 60% are certified by the GIA as Cushion brilliants.
According to GIA unfortunate guidelines, the antique cushion is classified as a cushion brilliant when all except one is true:
- The table is over 53%
- Slightly large culet
- Crown angle is over 40°
- The lower half is 60% or less
This outdated guideline is misleading because antique cushions look dramatically different than cushion brilliants.
A proper balance between brilliance and dispersion is the hallmark of every True Antique™ cushion diamond. It is the authentic cushion cut that fits rigorous geometric and optical requirements. Not every antique cushion can pass the rigorous requirements we bestow upon our stones. Antique cushions do not have the dreaded “Crushed Ice” splintered brilliance found in modern cushions.
True Antique™ Cushion Diamonds’ proportions seem to be a perfect match for a halo. The antique cushion’s high crown braced by a micro pave skirt is stunningly beautiful.
True Antique™ cushions are an excellent choice for solitaires or three-stone rings, especially those where the basket is set with pave.
Unlike modern cushion cuts, Antique cushions do not have a bulging pavilion providing ample space for metal to be concealed underneath.
In addition, the shorter prongs block less of the stone’s side view because the girdle they grip is lower.
Leon Mege is the only place to find a complete selection of True Antique™ Cushions.
To see the complete and exclusive inventory of antique cushions, please check the stock list using our dedicated portal at antiquecushiondiamond.com.
The pavilion facets originate at the culet and extend to the girdle in a star-like fashion. The great majority of cushion brilliants are modern cushions, but they rarely have a “crushed ice” appearance, unlike modified cushions. Cushion brilliant cut is less common and sold at a premium.
The cushion modified cut is essentially a radiant cut with rounded corners: same outline, different faceting.
All modified cushions are grouped as modern cushions known for their excessive brilliance without a contrast that results in a “crushed ice” look. The majority of modified cushions have four protruding bulges on the pavilion that make concealing the metalwork difficult.
Almost all famous diamonds with their ancient pedigree and fascinated history are Antique Cushions – the cut people with refined taste find astonishing, enigmatic, and electrifying. Until the modern round brilliant appeared in the early 1900s, most diamonds were cushion-shaped. The Old Miner cut, characterized by a distinct crown, small table, shallow pavilion, large facets, and open culet, was the equivalent of today’s round cut. The beauty of the antique diamonds is not in perfect symmetry or percentage of light return but their explosive scintillation and intense fire.
Initially, the stone does not look like a cushion, but you can trace a poorly shaped cushion outline if you look closer. The name stands for “Mountain of Light.” A 105 carat (21.6 g) diamond was once the largest known diamond in the world. Captured in 1526 by Humayun, it was valued at half the daily expense of the whole world. In 1850, it was presented to Queen Victoria. It originally weighed 186 carats and took 38 days to cut to its present form of 108.93 carats at the cost of 8000 pounds. The stone is currently set into the Maltese Cross in the crown made for the Queen’s mother in 1937.
The Kohinoor diamond was found five thousand years ago in the Kollur Mine in the Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh. It was called Syamantaka jewel in the early Sanskrit scriptures. In 1304, the diamond was owned by the kings of Malwa until 1306, when the Kakatiya Empire of Orugallu forced them to give it up.
The diamond was in the hands of the Delhi Sultanate between 1323 and 1339 when Muhammad bin Tughlaq brought it to Samarkand, where it stayed for the next 300 years.
In 1526 the stone went on a trip to Mughal Empire, where it stayed for 200 years. Nader Shah robbed Moguls of their prized possessions in 1739, shipped it to Persia, and renamed it “Koh-i-Noor,” meaning mountain of light.
Nader Shah got himself killed in 1747, so the diamond passed to his general Ahmad Shah Durrani, who “took care” of it until his descendants brought it to Punjab, India, and presented the diamond to the founder of the Sikh Empire, Maharaja Ranjit Singh. In 1849 after they conquered Punjab, the British East India Company sent the diamond to Britain, becoming one of the crown jewels. On its way from Lahore to Britain amid excessive drinking and debauchery, the diamond was temporarily lost but later found by a servant.
The world’s most famous diamond has been rumored to bring misfortune to its owners first appeared on record in 1666. The Paris diamond merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier stole the 112-carat uncut diamond from a Hindu temple, cursing anyone who attempted to own the gem. Two years later, Tavernier sold the diamond to King Louis XIV, who had the diamond recut into a 67-carat heart shape and renamed it the French Blue. From now on, the curse of the Indian goddess Sita sprang to action.
- In 1749, Louis XV, his great-grandson, had it hang off the Order of the Golden Fleece insignia worn by the French royalty until the French Revolution, during which the crown jewels were stolen. The diamond reappeared in London in 1812 reduced to 45 carats to avoid detection.
- Thomas Eliason, a diamond merchant, sold it to King George IV, an addict with severe health problems, massive debts, and an estranged marriage.
- Prominent British banker Thomas Hope purchased the diamond naming it the Hope diamond. He passed it down until, in 1894, his grandson, Lord Henry Francis Hope, the Duke of Newcastle, inherited the gem. The Duke married an American singer May Yohé, his fortune on her until May left him for another man. In 1901 he sold the stone to a London jeweler for £29,000.
- A New York jeweler, Simon Frankel, paid $250,000 for the diamond but was forced to sell it during the Depression of 1907 due to financial problems to a wealthy Turk, Sem Habib, dealing on behalf of the Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II, who was deposed a year later.
- In 1910 Pierre Cartier sold the Hope diamond for $300,000 to Evalyn Walsh McLean, a wealthy socialite, and her husband Ned, the publisher of the Washington Post. In 1919, their young son was hit by a car and died. They divorced in 1932. Ned died in 1942 after suffering from mental illness, which seems to be the Washington Post owner’s affliction.
- Evelyn died later in 1947 of pneumonia. Her estate was purchased by Harry Winston in 1949, who toured the cursed diamond around the country, failing to find a buyer. In 1957 he came up with a scheme to donate the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian. The diamond was mailed to DC from New York in a plain brown paper envelope, allegedly hoping to collect $1 million in insurance if it was stolen. The curse prevented the Postal service from doing what they do best – losing the package, so it was promptly delivered to Winston’s great disappointment.
The Regent, a 140.64-carat Old miner with bluish fluorescence, is the 7th largest D-color internally flawless diamond and the 2nd largest cushion-shaped D-color diamond in the world. It was discovered in the 17 century in Golconda and stolen from India like many other famous diamonds.
The slave who found the 410-carat gem concealed it under the bandages of a self-inflicted wound. He offered a captain of a British ship half of the proceeds for helping him escape the country, but the captain promptly murdered the slave and kept the diamond which he sold to an Indian diamond merchant for about £1,000. Supposedly feeling guilty for committing the murder, the captain hanged himself.
In 1702 the diamond was sold to the British Governor of Madras, Thomas Pitt (no relationship to Brad Pitt or his brothers Stu and Arm) under murky circumstances for an estimated £20,000. It took two years and cost £5,000 to cut the rough diamond into Old Miner. The Pitt diamond turned out to be one of the most brilliant and finest diamonds in history. Peter The Great of Russia bought the leftovers for about £7,000.
In 1717, Philippe Il, the Duke of Orleans, appointed Regent, bought the diamond for about £135,000 after King Louis XIV’s death. In 1723 Louis XV wore the Regent diamond in his crown during the coronation. In 1775 the diamond was bestowed on another crown made for Louis XVI’s coronation. The diamond was also used as an adornment on the hat of Marie Antoinette.
The Regent was stolen in 1792 and later recovered hidden under the roof in a Paris garret. Napoleon Bonaparte had it mounted in the hilt of his sword. The Regent was worn in 1825 at the coronation of Charles X and embellished the “Grecian diadem” of Empress Eugenie during the Second Empire. The stone is now on display at the Louvre. The Regent Diamond was named The National Diamond of France.
The Cullinan II Diamond is an iconic Antique Cushion cut weighing 317.4 carats measuring 4.54 cm × 4.08 cm × 2.42 cm (1.79 in × 1.61 in × 0.95 inches). It is now set into the British Imperial State Crown.
The largest diamond ever to be discovered, Cullinan, weighed 3106 carats in its rough form. The rock was found in 1905 and initially thrown out in trash perceived as far too big to be a diamond. Fred Wells, a manager of the Premier Mine in South Africa, recovered the stone from trash, and the rest is history. The stone yielded nine faceted diamonds and plenty of smaller ones.
Joseph Asscher of Amsterdam – the leading diamond cutter of the time spent weeks studying the stone. It took four days to groove the stone in preparation for cleaving, and on February 10, 1908, he split the stone, breaking the knife on the first attempt and fainting on the second. Over the next eight months, nine large stones numbered from I to IX, and ninety-seven small brilliants were cut and polished.
Wittelsbach Blue has mysterious provenance, believed to originate in the Golconda mine weighing 35.56 carats. The diamond has 82 facets arranged in an unusual pattern. The star facets on the crown are vertically split, and the pavilion has eight pairs of extremely narrow facets. Typical of any antique cut stone, The Wittelsbach has a giant culet.
In 1664 King Philip IV of Spain gave it away as a dowry for his daughter, the Infanta Margarita Teresa, on her engagement to Emperor Leopold I of Austria. In 1722 it passed to Bavaria’s ruling Wittelsbach family, where it was incorporated into the royal crown and later put up for sale.
The diamond reappeared at the 1958 world’s fair in Belgium but later vanished, reportedly sold in 1964 to department store magnate Helmut Horten as a wedding present for his wife.
London jeweler Laurence Graff bought the diamond at Christie’s in December 2008 for £16.4 million and gave the stone a makeover by adding facets to improve its color. The recutting reduced its weight by about four carats to 31.06 and enraged Germans who accused Mr. Graff of vandalism by destroying a piece of Germany’s national heritage. Mr. Graff, who is Jewish, hit back at the Krauts by renaming it the Wittelsbach-Graff diamond.
The Ashberg diamond is one of the world’s famous yellow diamonds. The amber-colored diamond once was part of the Russian crown jewels, and it weighs 102.48 carats.
The Ashberg diamond is named after Olof Aschberg, a Swedish banker and communist sympathizer who financed the Bolsheviks’ 1917 revolution. Aschberg got rich by trading with Lenin during the 1920s and in 1922 was appointed the head of Soviet’s international bank – the “Ruskombank.”
Ashberg bought the stone in 1934, giving Stalin much-needed cash to carry on with his murderous plans at the dawn of Great Terror. In 1959 the diamond was sold to an anonymous private buyer but resurfaced again in 1981 when it came up for sale at Christie’s auction in Geneva.
The fancy yellow diamond from the Kimberly diamond mine in South Africa was purchased by the company’s founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany, in 1877. After cutting and polishing, the 287.42-carat rough yielded a 128.54-carat Antique cushion with 82 brilliant facets. It has been on display since 1896 at Tiffany’s in New York.
Socialite Mary Whitehouse was the only woman to wear the diamond at the 1957 Tiffany Ball in Newport, Rhode Island.
In 1961, Audrey Hepburn wore the Tiffany diamond set in a lavish collier designed by Jean Schlumberger during Breakfast at Tiffany’s promotional campaign. In 2019 the diamond made a transition from glamour to trash when Lady Gaga, Tiffany’s brand ambassador, donned the 30-million dollar diamond for the Oscars.
The Idol’s Eye is a 70.21-carat diamond with a faintly bluish tint, typical for Golconda diamonds. The diamond was rumored to serve as an eye of a venerated Hindu deity statue until the 17th century when someone plucked it from its socket and shipped it to Europe.
Around 1607, the stone was owned by a Persian warlord Rahab (not Rehab). After heavy partying, Rahab ran out of money and gave the stone to the East India Company as a portion of his debt. The stone was not seen for the next 300 years. When it reappeared, it went through the severe commotion, such as being a ransom for Princess Rasheetah’s release from a Turkish Sultan. In 1865 the Idol’s Eye was auctioned in London by Christie’s to the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Abdul Hamid II, deposed in 1909. On June 24th of that same year, the Idol’s Eye reappeared in Paris and was sold to a Spanish nobleman.
After World War II, Harry Winston purchased the Idol’s Eye from a Dutch dealer. In 1947 the Idol’s Eye was sold to Mrs. May Bonfils Stanton, daughter of Frederick G. Bonfils, the publisher and co-founder of the Denver Post newspaper. In the early 1980s, Laurence Graff sold the diamond to the controversial President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, deposed in 1986.
The Dresden Green originated in the Kollur mine in India sometime before 1722. It’s the largest and one of the rarest and most valuable diamonds in the world.
At first sight, Dresden Green appears to have a shape of a chubby pear, but under close examination, it becomes apparent that it is an antique cushion with one truncated corner. The diamond weighs approximately 41 carats.
The Dresden Green is a rare Type 11a diamond with VS1 clarity and evenly distributed color between light mint and apple green. It is the crown jewel of the Green Vault at Dresden Castle, housed in eight ornate rooms in the Residenzschloss. The former royal palace had three rooms destroyed by Allied bombing in World War Two, but the museum was restored to its previous glory after the war. It is called the Green Vault because some rooms were decorated with malachite-green paint.
Chemical composition in conjunction with the highly unusual green color makes the Dresden Green one of the most extraordinary diamonds in the world.
On 25 November 2019, the Green Vault was burglarized, and a lot of priceless artifacts of great cultural value were stolen and never recovered, but the Dresden Green was not among them. The famous stone was in New York at that time on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The robbers were six German Arabs from the “Remmo clan,” an organized crime family notorious for stealing from European museums.
The 34.98-carat modified “pear double rose cut” diamond of the Prussian crown jewels was in the hands of the House of Hohenzollern for three long centuries, then was passed to the ruling dynasty of Prussia and, after all that time to the German Emperor. The stone was stolen from India by French ambassador Nicolas de Harlay, Lord of Sancy, and given to Queen of France Marie de Medici. She wore it at her coronation in 1610 and passed it down through the royal families in France, England, and Prussia.
The 34.98ct modified pear double rose-cut diamond most likely comes from Golconda in India, the sole source of diamonds until the discoveries in Brazil in the 1720s and later in South Africa.
Agra is the site of the Taj Mahal, one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
The Agra was certified as a fancy light pink natural color and sold for £4,070,000, briefly making it the most expensive pink diamond ever.
In 1990, the Agra and two other diamonds from the collection were auctioned at Christie’s.
Since then, the Agra has again been re-cut to 28.15-carat cut-cornered, rectangular mixed-cut, fancy intense pink diamond.
The matching pair of True Antique cushion diamonds 30.01 and 30.08 carats were faceted in New York circa 2015. Leon Mege diamond cutters fashioned the pair from a single 100-plus carat piece of rough. The prominent pair of cushions exhibiting superior brilliance (scintillation) and dispersion (fire) is set into a pair of bespoke platinum eardrops.
One of the most well-known examples of Type IIa diamonds is the 33.19-carat Elizabeth Taylor’s “Krupp Diamond.” Before the early twentieth century, the Krupp diamond’s history and even its origin are uncertain. Most likely, it originated in India’s storied Golconda region, but also there is a possibility of it coming from the South African Jagersfontein Mine. A German actress Vera Krupp received the brilliant ring set the diamond from her wealthy industrialist husband between 1952 and 1956. The diamond went up for auction in 1967 at Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York City when she passed away.
On May 16th, 1968, Richard Burton purchased the diamond ring for $305,000, the highest price paid at auction for a diamond ring at the time. Burton presented it to Elizabeth Taylor as a surprise gift, and after her passing in 2011, the ring was auctioned off at Christie’s to a Korean retailer for over $8.8 million.
The 19-carat diamond sold for 14.4 million Swiss francs (€12.35 million, $14.6 million). Diamond of Louis XIV is the pale pink diamond, dubbed Le Grand Mazarin, a “timeless symbol of beauty” and a “witness to 350 years of European history.”
The diamond comes from the Golconda mine and bears the name of Cardinal Mazarin, who served as a chief minister under Louis XIII and Louis XIV in France. The Cardinal left the stone to Louis XIV in his will, who passed to several other kings and queens. It was set into Louis XVI’s crown and remained there until the king was beheaded during the French revolution in 1792.
In 1810, Emperor Napoleon ordered jeweler François-Regnault Nitot to create a jewelry set for his wife, Marie-Louise, including a crown, diadem, necklace, comb, earrings, bracelets, belt, and more. The diadem was set with the crown jewels, including Le Grand Mazarin.
The 78.54-carat D-internally Flawless diamond mined in the Golconda region some 300 years ago gets its name from Archduke Joseph August (1872-1962), the prince of the Hungarian line of the Hapsburg dynasty and the first known owner of the gem.
In 1993 at Christie’s Geneva, it sold for $6.5 million to Molina Fine Jewelers of Phoenix, whose owner, a chairman of Black, Starr & Frost, recut it down to 76.45 carats. In 2002 Laura Harring wore the diamond at the Oscars while Celine Dion loaned it for her TV special.
On November 13, 2012, the stone sold for $21,506,91 at Christie’s Geneva.
The 21.25 carats Eureka Diamond was the first diamond discovered in South Africa. The 10.73-carat diamond is currently on display at the Mine Museum in Kimberley. Its discovery marked the beginning of the diamond rush in South Africa.
The Eureka Diamond was found in 1867 near Hopetown on the Orange River by a 15-year-old boy named Erasmus Stephanus Jacobs. The stone drew the attention of the acting Civil Commissioner Lorenzo Boyes, who identified it as a diamond.
The Eureka or its glass replica, as some claimed, was on display at the 1867 Paris Exhibition. The rough gem was bought for £500 by the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Philip Wodehouse, and sent to England. The stone was cut into 10.73-carat Old Miner. It was sold for £5,700 on 16 April 1946 at Christie’s in London set in a bangle bracelet. In 1967 DeBeers, who owned the stone at the time, donated the diamond to the South African people.
The cushion-shaped, 205.07 carats fancy yellow stone comes from the Kimberly mine in South Africa. The diamond was sold for a measly £35,575 by Christie’s London in 1918 to benefit the British Red Cross Society.
The stone is notable for its Maltese Cross shadow pattern making it attractive to zealous European royal families. In 1973 an anonymous American businessman was trying to sell it for £2,000,000 but failed. It was put up for auction again in 1977, but it is not known whether it sold. The identity of its present owner is unknown.
The diamond origin and its first owners are unknown. The diamond bears all the characteristics of a South African origin. The Shah of Persia, Nasir ud-Din Shah (1848-1860), was one of the first to begin collecting fancy yellow diamonds considered nearly worthless at the time.
The 102.07-carat fancy intense yellow cushion Allnatt diamond is named after sportsman and philanthropist Major Alfred Ernest Allnatt, who purchased it in the early 1950s. Soon after purchasing the diamond, Major Allnatt hired Cartier to design a brooch for the Allnatt diamond as its centerpiece. The original weight of 102.07 carats was reduced to 101.29 carats when it was re-cut to improve its color. In 1996 the Allnatt was auctioned by Christie’s for $3,043,496.
It was discovered in March 1888 in the De Beers mine, weighing 439.86 carats in the rough and 228.5 carats after cutting; it was exhibited at the Paris Exhibition of 1889. It is the 7th largest cut diamond in the world.
In 1925 when Cartier first purchased and set it. Sold again in the 1930s. In 1982 it came up for auction but was withdrawn at $1,750,000, which was below its reserve price.