One of the most common questions we receive from diamond shoppers is the difference between Old European Cut and Round Brilliant Cut diamonds. Typically, customers can tell that there’s a difference between the two cuts, but they can’t exactly put their finger on what exactly sets the two styles apart!
The truth is that the majority of the differences between the two cutting techniques are a matter of time. Over the past century, diamond cutting techniques and technology have evolved in a number of fascinating ways.
In addition, the tastes of the average diamond consumer have changed drastically as well.
Round brilliant diamonds are the most popular cut sold today, and account for more than 70% of loose diamonds purchased by consumers. This has gradually caused the European cut to take a back seat to the round brilliant, but there is still a strong market for the style.
The History of the European Cut
As early as the 19th century, the European Cut (often called the “round cut”) was essentially the standard in the diamond industry. It specifically rose to prominence in what we call the vintage jewelry periods of the Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco eras.
Read also: The History of Jewelry Estate Periods
Because of the emergence of South African diamond mines in the recent past, diamonds are more widely available than they have ever been. This also means that there are more quality diamonds to go around.
This was not the case when diamond cutters developed the European Cut. In an attempt to bring out the best parts of the stone while hiding the less desirable features, diamond cutters used hand cutting techniques to enhance the stones that were available to them.
The European cut was an ingenious way to maximize the most of the diamonds that were available at the time and minimize undesirable characteristics.
Emergence of the Round Brilliant
Over the past few decades, the convergence of better quality diamonds and improved diamond cutting technologies and techniques have resulted in the wildly successful round brilliant cut. These stones are specifically cut to produce as much brilliance and fire as possible.
The official creator of the round brilliant cut was Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919. His design was considerably more simple than modern stones, but it still set the groundwork for the most popular diamond cut in existence.
The quality and amount of light that is reflected by the round brilliant is second to none, which drives its continued success in the diamond world.
Warmth vs. Fire
Both the European cut and round brilliant cut have between 57 and 58 facets (depending on if there is a culet or not), but the similarities really end there. European cut diamonds use much larger facets that are ultimately designed to improve the color of the diamond.
The bright white diamonds that are common today simply weren’t as readily available to diamond cutters during the time period, so their main goal was to improve the color of the stone and create warmth.
Since those stones are in better supply now, cutters have focused their efforts on getting as much light to bounce back to the viewer as possible to create fire. The facets in round brilliant cuts are typically smaller and narrower to produce this effect.
You’ll also find that the newer diamonds are more consistent with their cuts and won’t see quite as much variation as you would find in a European cut diamond.
Best settings for each cut
The best diamond settings for european cut diamonds are typically antique and vintage styles that will enhance the stone. It was very common during these time periods to have floral patterns or other ornate styles that added to the overall look of the ring, rather than just focusing on the center stone.
Round Brilliant cut
Because the round brilliant cut stands so well on it’s own with the abundant amount of sparkle and fire, most settings work well with this cut. It never hurts to go simple and let the stone stand on its own with a four or six prong solitaire setting.
What we also see most often now is even more enhancement to how large the stone looks or how much fire is produced by surrounding it with halo, split shank, or three-stone engagement ring settings.
Are you interested in creating your engagement ring with a loose diamond from our inventory? Contact Sergio@jfjco.com to schedule an appointment and find the perfect diamond today.
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