Things you should know about VINTAGE DIAMONDS:
Antique and vintage diamonds are beautiful relics from our collective past. They are tangible pieces of history that have a life and personality all their own. These diamonds don’t look like the diamonds that are cut today, which is precisely why people are so drawn to them. They hark back to simpler times when jewelry was made by hand and individual diamonds were inspiration for unique one-of-a-kind pieces. They are mysterious and romantic with history and stories that we all wish we were lucky enough to hear.
At Trumpet and Horn, we simply adore vintage diamonds and nothing else will ever do. All of our diamonds are unique to their own time period, which makes wearing one even more special. Upon examination of the diamond(s) in your own T&H engagement ring, you too can learn about its story in history and it doesn’t get any better than that!
Here is our very own guide to the 4C's of diamonds, with a vintage twist. Every aspect of a diamond tells its own story, whether it's the clarity, color, carat, or cut!
In nature, there are very few things that are considered “perfect”. Diamonds are formed deep within the Earth under intense heat and pressure - due to these conditions, very few diamonds are actually “perfect” inside. Clarity refers to the amount and degree of inclusions that can be seen inside the diamond under 10x magnification with a microscope. In English? Clarity measures the overall flawlessness of a diamond. The closer to perfectly flawless, the more expensive and rare the diamond will be.
Diamond clarity is graded on a scale with Flawless being the top grade given and Included being at the low end of the scale. Most diamonds fall somewhere in between and are graded accordingly.
THE GIA CLARITY SCALE:
Flawless - Diamonds that display no inclusions or surface flaws under magnification by a trained gemologist
Internally Flawless - Diamonds that display no inclusions under magnification by a trained gemologist, but might have extremely small surface flaws
Very Very Slightly Included - Diamonds with "minute" inclusions
VVS1 - inclusions are "extremely difficult" to see under magnification
VVS2 - inclusions are "very difficult" to see under magnification
Very Slightly Included - Diamonds with "minor" inclusions
VS1 - inclusions are "difficult" to see under magnification
VS2 - inclusions are "somewhat easy" to see under magnification
Slightly Included - Diamonds with "noticeable" inclusions that are usually not visible to the naked eye
SI1 - inclusions are "easy" to see under magnification
SI2 - inclusions are "very easy" to see under magnification
Included - Diamonds with "obvious" inclusions that are usually visible to the naked eye. Durability and beauty can be affected with these lower quality diamonds, which is why T&H does not carry any diamonds with this clarity grade.
We are going to stand on our own soapbox here and sing our praises for the presence of color in vintage diamonds! The warm tones that antique diamonds sometimes exude are testimonies to their authenticity and history.
The differences in color are so slight that most people, unless they are trained to look for it, don't even notice any difference. The proportions of older diamonds often work to mask their color as well. When viewed from the top, vintage diamonds actually tend to look whiter than the color grade assigned to them.
It's important to keep in mind that each diamond will strike each individual differently. Diamonds that look exactly the same on paper look completely different in person. The best part is that you'll know your diamond when you see it!
How the color scale works:
A truly colorless diamond is extremely rare. Most diamonds have some degree of yellow (or brown) in them, even if they look white to the eye. Color is graded on a scale that compares each diamond to a “Master Set” of pre-color graded diamonds. The scale begins at “D” (meaning the diamond is completely colorless) and ends with Z (meaning the diamond is quite yellow or brown). Most diamonds will fall somewhere in the middle of the scale with some hints of yellow, which are typically not noticeable to the untrained eye.
When a diamond is yellower than a “Z” rating, it is then considered a “fancy” colored diamond, and its value actually increases. Diamonds can also be found in other colors like pink, blue, red, and purple - any “fancy” color diamond with a bright, strong color is extremely rare and therefore very valuable, desirable, and expensive.
THE COLOR SCALE:
G-J: Near Colorless
K-M: Faint Yellow
N-R: Very Light Yellow
S-Z: Light Yellow
Below Z: Fancy Yellow
Carat is the easiest of the 4 C’s to explain. In simple terms, carat refers to the weight of a diamond (and as a result, how big it is). A diamond is weighed on a very sensitive scale in order to obtain its exact weight. How much a diamond weighs directly relates to how valuable is it: a large diamond is rarer than a small diamond, and will therefore almost always be worth more.
Cut refers to two things when talking about diamonds:
1. The overall shape of the diamond (round, oval, square, etc.)
2. How well the diamond is physically cut
A well cut diamond will use the light that enters it to bounce around inside the diamond and return to the viewer’s eye in a dazzling combination of reflected rainbow colors and bright white brilliance, much like a prism. When you’re noticing how much a diamond appears to “sparkle”, this is referring to cut.
It doesn’t matter if the diamond is a wonderfully old hand-cut diamond or a brand new laser precision-cut diamond - if it’s not cut well, it won’t have that beautiful sparkle that everyone who sees it will be inexplicably drawn to.
The Evolution of the Brilliant Cut Diamond:
Rose Cut: Rose cuts became fashionable in the 1600’s and were very popular well into the 19th century during the Georgian Era. The jewelry designs were often created around the diamonds instead of the reverse. Rose cut diamonds were always cut to the natural shape of the stone and fashioned with a flat bottom so they are all different. This made for a very romantic and unique look that we love about antique jewelry.
Old Mine Cut:The Old Mine cut was developed during the Industrial Revolution in Europe when diamonds were discovered in Brazil and major advances in diamond cutting were becoming prevalent. This is the earliest design of a brilliant cut stone with a soft cushion shape. Old Mine cut diamonds have high crowns, small tables, deep pavilions and 58 facets. They displayed more brilliance and fire than the rose cuts and became wildly popular. Each diamond was uniquely fashioned and hand cut. Owning one today is definitely like owning a one of a kind treasure from the past!
Old European cut: In the late 1800’s, further advances in technology allowed diamonds to be shaped on a wheel, allowing the cutter to achieve a circular outline and the birth of the Old European cut diamond was born. Also hand cut, this newer design had a larger table, 58 facets and better pavilion proportions. When these new elements worked together they let more light into the diamond and more brilliance reflected back to the eye. When viewed in the soft candlelight of the times, these diamonds glowed with fire that was never seen before. Spectacular!
Modern Round Brilliant cut: The Old European cut diamond eventually became the model for the Modern Round Brilliant cut diamond. Modern Round Brilliant cut diamonds are laser precision cut to release the maximum amount of fire and brilliance from the stone. The techniques used to cut brilliant diamonds were developed in the early 1900’s and still continue today. New cuts are always being developed in the pursuit of enhancing diamonds’ extraordinary capability of reflecting light in mesmerizing ways.