Antique Diamonds – Michael Goldstein

Mr. Goldstein has been in the jewelry industry for over 30 years in the New York City area. He publishes a free price guide to antique-cut diamonds and market updates for this specialized area of the diamond market. He also travels extensively to buy his inventory, and is an active and aggressive buyer of diamonds and antique and estate jewelry.

Michael Goldstein provided some wonderful insight into antique diamonds to a full house of members.

With the old european cuts always ask ROUND or Out of Round, as the round and cushion Cut (also refered to as Old Mine cut) were both round shapes. The cushion cut followed the the natural shape of the rough, so it was semi-round to square. The old style of hand worked faceting resulted in less than perfect uniformity and shape.

Old European RoundOld European Cushion CutWhile the cut has less than exacting proportions, these diamonds have a beauty and desirability all their own.

In old European cuts look for: Knife edge girdles, Open cutlets – small tables and large cutlets, Roughness around the edges, Breaks along the girdles are also common.

Diamond_cutletThe Knife Edge girdles of Old European diamonds were fragile and prone to chipping under pressure, making it difficult to mount & unmount without damage to the girdles.

GirdleEdgeLooking at mounted pieces, old European cuts always look whiter face up 1-2x better than they really are. Because of this, as a buyer, should always ask to have the diamond removed from the mounting, as it is the only way to properly grade a stone and get an exact weight. You need to see the real color as the VALUE difference between an I or J or K color can be great. If it can not be unmounted, remember that you can only estimate, so diligence and experience are crucial.

The 1900s was a great changing point in both jewelry style and technology. As cutting technology improved with the advent of electricity and motor driven wheels, cutting diamonds into more uniform round and other cuts became possible.

Old European Cuts – 1930s and before

Transitional Cuts – 1940s and 1950s

Modern Cuts – 1960s forward

Recommends the Al Gilbertson book; “American Cut – The First 100 Years”

Value is based on need and availability. If you need an Old Cut to match a set from which a stone or stones was lost, it will cost a premium, if you can even find comparable diamonds. Matched pairs would add another 15% to the price.

Selling value is often < or = 25% of your ask price. Recut Value – consider the diamond just raw material!

Certain cuts have more value today (may change 10 years from now). With a recut are you destroying value or making value? Color & Clarity BEFORE and AFTER the recut may provide a large profit as you take a diamond from SI to VVS or a J color to an I.

Even with the projected size loss to the old diamond you may make more value than you loose. An old round recut will loose approximately 15% of carat weight. An old cushion recut to round may loose as much as 40%.

There are also risk factors involved in recutting old European diamonds:

Expense of weight loss + Possible breakage on the wheel during faceting

Needless to say Michael provided a wealth of information. We thank him for sharing his experiences and knowledge with us!

Summary Charlie Marts

Photos from Michael Goldstein’s Powerpoint presentation.

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