In our fast-paced mass-produced high-tech world it is easy to see why some people seek refuge in the romanticism of antique jewelry. Cue images of Lady Mary floating down the stairs of Downton Abbey to be greeted by a liveried footman on her way to the dining room where she will exchange flirtatious glances with Cousin Matthew over Isle Flottante (quite possibly one of my favorite desserts, recipe here). SWOON! But before you all go running off to sweep up whatever antique jewelry you come across I want all my DMD darlings to be armed with sufficient knowledge to make an informed decision as to whether or not you indeed want a piece of antique jewelry.
Diamond cutting technique has improved vastly over the centuries. Todays diamonds are for the most part brilliant cuts (58 facets) or fancy cuts. The brilliant cut was invented in the mid 17th century and maximize a diamond’s brilliance, fire and scintillation (sparkle). The older round diamonds were either old miners cuts or European cuts and while they were the hight of sophisticated cutting technique at their time, visually they don’t compare to the modern-day round brilliant cuts. My pet peeve when it comes to old miners cuts is the ENORMOUS culet. What is a culet? It is the facet that is at the point of a diamond. Who cares if its enormous, you say? Its hidden by the setting, you say. Oh my dears, the culet size and placement is all important for the look of a diamond. A culet that is too large will look like a black hole right smack in the middle of your diamond and will affect the appearance of the stone making it less brilliant and give the whole stone a dark look. If the proportions of the diamond (crown or pavilion angles) are too shallow or too deep your diamond will look dull and lifeless and this is another trait that is very typical of old mine and European cuts. Proportions and symmetry matter when choosing a diamond.
Am I telling you not to buy antique jewelry? Absolutely not. By all means if that’s what strikes your fancy then indulge, collect and curate away. However, my DMD darlings should know the difference between antique diamonds cuts and the newer cuts so that you can buy wisely and set your expectations accordingly. Don’t expect an antique cut to look as brilliant as, well, the brilliant cuts. If you want diamond-induced blindness from your rock then stick to modern brilliant cuts. If you don’t mind less sparkle then go antique. If you want the blindness AND a romantic antique-y look, then go bespoke. . .obviously.
Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,
p.s. Have you seen my Pinterest board of Downton Abbey jewels? By “Downton Abbey” I mean late-Belle Époque and Art Deco eras, I don’t mean these were actually worn at Downton Abbey or on the show.