From the mines to your finger, the life of a diamond is a long one – and it’s not always so sparkly. But, less withstanding than the strength of the stone is the style of it. The evolution of diamond cuts continues to evolve, keeping a timeless stone impressive over the centuries.
It wasn’t until the 11th century that diamonds were worn as jewelry in their uncut form. Before then, they were appreciated unpolished and loose as a sacred and powerful talisman. As a symbol of perfection, the diamond took on great cultural significance. They were thought to illuminate creativity and ingenuity while acting as a purveyor of strength, fearlessness, and wealth. This rich meaning made diamonds a popular adornment for royalty.
In the early 14th century, diamonds began to be lightly polished for a slight shine and were sometimes cut to a point, following the natural shape. The simplicity was partially due to the hardness of the stone, which falls at a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale – the hardest of all.
As the point cut became commonplace, it quickly developed. By the 15th century, the table cut had made its way onto the scene among prestigious members of society. Simply put, the table cut involves taking a point cut and removing the top half to reveal a smooth and brilliant surface.
During this century, the diamond engagement ring originated as Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy with a point cut diamond that rested in a traditional gold setting. Also, in the 15th century, it was discovered that diamond dust itself could cut the stone. This would make for big changes among the precious gem.
The 16th century brought along the rose cut. The use of new bruting, polishing, and faceting technology allowed cutters to carve the domed, 24-facet shape. This look was softer and more feminine than the strong cuts we see today.
Over the next couple of centuries, diamonds became even more prominent among high society. Mining expanded solely from India to Brazil and Africa later on. This demand pushed diamond cutters to reveal even more brilliant and high-clarity products.
In the 18th century, cushion cuts – which are still popular among today’s market – were developed in Europe. They offered a small table and high crown, forming a soft yet architectural square. This would go on to be recognized as the beginning of modern brilliant cuts, giving us the sparkle that we all love! From there, the marquise cut came to be, and in the 19th century, cutting technology continued to develop as quickly as stunning cut styles.
And, by the early 1900s, diamond cuts were as unique as the ever-changing, modern era. For example, the Asscher cut, which features striking, multi-faceted diamonds that resemble and intricate emerald cut (pictured left), was patented. Throughout the rest of the 20th century, many of the cuts that are still cherished today came to be. This includes the round, european cut and the rectangular, emerald cut which please a variety of buyers
But, diamond cuts continue to evolve and transition to keep with the modern era. And, as hopeful wearers peer into perfectly lit glass cases, they’ll get a spectacle of princesses, hearts, pears, and more, proving that a diamond truly is forever – no matter the cut.
Want to maximize sparkle? You'll want to know these 10 stunning modern day gemstone cuts!
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