Developed in the late 17th and early 18th century, the “Old Miner Cut” became one of the two standard diamond shapes up until the end of the 19th century. Similar to, and an antecedent of, the modern round brilliant cut, the Old Miner cut is more square in shape, with a notably high crown, faceted culet, deep pavilion and small table. The Old Miner Cut was a precursor of the modern round brilliant, being the first diamond to have the facet types commonly used today, such as the star, bevel and pavilion mains. However, as the facets of this shape were cut by hand they were cut to different proportions than they are today, resulting in large facets, a heavy weight, and deep cuts.
The Old Miner cut is a precursor of the cushion cuts. It was designed in an era when candlelight was the main source of lighting under which diamonds were viewed. With candlelight, and later gaslight, being the primary light source used to bring out the diamond’s scintillation and fire, the Old Miner Cut fell out of favor by the end of the 19th century. It was at this time, the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, that the more revealing electric lighting became the standard source of gem illumination.
Bright electric lighting was not the only thing that caused the Old Miner Cut to fall from popular favor. Newly developed cutting technologies, such as the perfection of the diamond saw, opened the door for more precise cutting and shaping of diamonds at the turn of the 20thcentury. The Old Miner Cut was a hand faceted shape of diamond, cut in accord with the shape of the original rough diamond. This very method of cutting the Old Miner Cut by following the diamond rough’s shape made it common for them to have a certain amount of asymmetry. In addition to this, the Old Miner Cut was cut primarily for carat weight, rather than for light dispersion.
The name “Old Miner” or “Old Mine” cut refers to the origin of the diamonds that received this type of shape. Many of the rough diamonds that were cut and polished into the shape now known as The Old Miner Cut came from the older diamond mines of India and later Brazil, prior to the opening of newer mines in South Africa. Also known as the “triple cut brilliant” and “Peruzzi Cut,” the Old Miner Cut demonstrates the charm, personality and delight of a time long gone. While they have smaller tables and larger culets than are used today, it is precisely these touches of their old world appeal that makes them highly desirable cuts of diamond, and beautifully fashioned reminders of a bygone era.