Diamonds: Preserving old cuts

I recently inherited a diamond ring, a gift from my father to my mother in 1947. The cut is 'transitional', between Old Mine or European cuts and the newer Round Brilliant styles.

The stone has brilliance and sparkle, but not the extreme dazzle of today's,
more blinding than Regis Philbin's teeth. When I took it to my jeweler's, he suggested recutting to the current style.

His point: the stone will be worth more, "better", even though I'd lose up to 40% of the size.

His partner suggested only a repair to a chipped
girdle. I agreed; instead of another average-sized diamond, I have a subtle, sentimental and substantial stone.

I prefer these old cuts to the modern shower of sparkle- they look like minerals. When I see a woman with a solitaire engagement ring, I recall Coco Chanel's waspish comment that "a woman with a diamond might as well wear a price tag around her neck", even as my reptile brain responds, "Oooooh!"

if you have an old mine or European cut diamond, don't recut it to the modern standard unless it's damaged; don't remount it unless you choose another antique-style setting. Otherwise, the stone will look out of place, like steel-framed windows on a 16th-century house. Only rarely does this juxtaposition work.

The ultimate anti-bling is a rough or minimally-cut diamond.

Patti Hansen wears a 10-carat uncut diamond from Keith. If he would just call to tell me it's conflict-free (the ring, not the relationship) I would be in Jewelry Heaven.

You can see some mouth-watering examples at designer Todd Reed's site; I would love to wear the dan
gle earrings (above, $6,250) or the multi-stone ring (below $12,500).



17 comments

Frugal Scholar said...

I'm with you. As with most things, I like the old stuff. BTW, I've left some comments on other posts that didn't "take"--perhaps others are having the same problem? (Assuming that this one makes it)

sallymandy said...

Oh, the original cut and setting are beautiful. The design itself, with the square and the circle....what could be more timeless? I'm glad you chose to keep it as is.

Thanks for joining my followers. I like your site! I agree with so much of what you've said. And I'll follow yours, too.

lagatta à montréal said...

It is lovely - eventually the vintage style will make it a far more valuable piece (in historical as well as monetary terms) than it would be recut. The horror!

Frugal, I wrote a long comment with some research at the post on diets, and it didn't "take". Unfortunately I had too much work after, that day, to get back to it. If one is writing something long or detailed, it is better to always do "save", but I forgot. :-(

Duchesse said...

Fugal: too bad as I appreciate comments.

lagatta: People keep sending me comments about nutrition, their own experience, etc. and I appreciate them, but I'm simply reporting the results of the study.

WendyB said...

I would keep an old cut the same if possible. On the other hand, there's a long history of recutting and resetting stones -- that's what happened to many ancient and medieval pieces. That actually seems rather thrifty to me. As for conflict diamonds, as I always remind people, there has to actually be a conflict going on for there to be misuse of the money generated by mining. If there is no war in a country, the diamonds are fine. The people who get the most aggressive with me about conflict diamonds -- I only work with wholesalers who guarantee their gems, of course -- don't know the first thing about politics in Africa. It's shameful.

WendyB said...

P.S. and if you just want to redesign a setting for your existing stone, obviously I'm the person to do that! Redesigns are my specialty :-)

Deja Pseu said...

My engagement ring is all old mine-cut stones, passed down through my husband's family. My setting is a modern, channel-cut setting, and I've been wanting to do something different with it, and your post explains perfectly why. Though I love simple, clean lines when it comes to jewelry, it really isn't the best setting for these stones. The jeweler had mentioned having the main larger stone re-cut but suggested against it as he said the uniqueness of the stone would be lost.

Duchesse said...

Wendy: The UN's definition of conflict diamond is
"Conflict diamonds are diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council."

There does not have to be armed warfare going on at the time.

Also, it's very easy to 'launder' diamonds coming out of these areas, now that people are aware of ths issue.

So, buy Canadian diamonds.

Imogen Lamport said...

So with you Duchesse - why modernise and take away the character of something so beautiful.

And what would probably happen is that in a couple of years you'd wished you'd never done it.

Duchesse said...

Pseu: I agree heartily! You might enjoy browsing books of that show archival settings (Tiffany, Cartier) or looking at vintage pieces till you find a setting you love. All can be replicated by a skilled jeweler.

Mardel said...

The original stone and setting are so beautiful as they are. It would be a shame to change them. I have my grandmothers ring and wouldn't change it. And then I have one of her old settings that was replaced (not by me) with a modern, very sparkly diamond which seems to overwhelm the ring. I don't wear it much. Perhaps I should look for a different stone for that ring and use the stone in something more suited to it.

I adore the look of rough cut diamonds. The examples in the link are fabulous.

Duchesse said...

mardel: Interesting project! Your antique setting would not necessarily need to be restyled with a diamond, either. Not wearing something is a signal to me to find a new owner, or restyle. When you do make a decision I'd love to hear about it!

Karen said...

Oh my, that one on the bottom is stunning.

I would never recut a sentimental diamond, no matter how "out of style" the cut was. I'm glad you left it as was.

Nancy (nanflan) said...

Duchesse, what a beautiful selection! I've been intrigued by recent ads for raw diamonds. If DF ever decides to buy me a "new" engagement ring, I'll have to consider them. Until then, we've umm, recycled my emerald cut diamond from a previous relationship. It's only 20 years old but still different from what's currently on the market.

By the way, I've nominated you for an award on my blog. I really enjoy your posts.

WendyB said...

Duchesse, There is no conflict going on in Botswana or South Africa, where a great majority of African diamonds come from, as I point out in my post. Canadian diamonds are few and expensive. If you're looking for a carat of 1-2 millimeter diamonds, as I often am, you're not going to get them from Canada. Russia and Australia are other non-African sources. As I pointed out.

Duchesse said...

Wendy: I would buy African diamonds if the vendor abides by the Kimberley Process in purchasing diamonds, and therefore provides an invoice stating that the diamond is warranted conflict-free. Unfortunately, most jewelers in shops where I live or travel do not do this. Equally unfortunately, we do business in Africa and have seen so much deliberate misrepresentation.

Tiffany have recently increased their stake in two Canadian diamond mines- including buying 100% of one mine's production. (They will both buy and sell the supply.)

Some people are willing to pay a 5-10% more for a Canadian diamond, for a guaranteed "ethically clean" stone. Of course, not everyone cares about the political aspect of the purchase.

Anjela said...

I would love a beautiful diamond ring. I wear CZs That I sell but they don't feel like beacons of light sending out messages that this person is loved and taken. One day I want to buy mysekf a diamond ring. Duchesse the setting and cut are beautiful...I too am glad you didn't chop it up to modernize it.