What are Reclaimed Diamonds?

Sophie Hughes specializes in reclaimed and antique diamonds. We’re here to tell you exactly what that means.

Reclaimed diamonds were previously set in jewelry and have since been returned back into the diamond supply, most often coming from estate jewelry. Once they’re removed from their original setting, these diamonds are inspected to ensure they’re in good condition to reset, reviewed by a grading lab like GIA for independent assessment, and then ready to be reused in a new piece!

You may wonder if reclaimed diamonds are a lesser quality because they’re often older and are being reused. Overall, the quality of reclaimed diamonds are no different from a newly mined stones! Diamonds are the hardest stone, 10 out of 10 on the Mohs Scale. They hold up incredibly well over time, rarely showing signs of wear. On the chance they need a little refresh, we can re-cut or re-polish them before they’re set into a new design. The cut, color, clarity, and carat of a reclaimed diamond are evaluated on the exact same scale as any newly-mined diamond.

Within the world of reclaimed diamonds lives the category of antiques. These diamonds were cut and mined as long as centuries ago, so the huge benefit is their sustainability - there’s zero contribution to new mining operations. With antique diamonds, the main distinguishing factor is the cut style. There are two particular antique cuts that Sophie specializes in working with: Old Mine Cut and Old European Cut.

Old Mine Cut

Old Mine Cut diamonds were popular in the 1700-1800’s and the style is one of the oldest recognizable styles of diamond cutting. They’re most easily identified by their gentle squared or “cushion” shape and flat culet at the center of the stone. (In modern cuts the culet, the bottom most point at the center of the stone, actually converges at a point.) In both Old Mine and Old European Cuts the culet does not come to an exact point, resulting in it being visible from the top of the stone - appearing as a little circle you see through the center.

Old Mine Cut diamonds were cut centuries ago by masterful diamond cutters working by hand, and intended to be admired in low candlelight. Each stone is incredibly unique because they were meticulously hand-cut to the diamond cutter’s eye without the use of today’s microscopes and lasers.

Old European Cut

The Old European Cut style came after the Old Mine and is the predecessor of the newer Modern Round Brilliant Cut (we'll talk about these later). It was popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when diamonds were still being hand-cut by masters.

Much like Old Mines, Old European Cut diamonds were also meant to be worn in candlelight, so their facets are a bit chunkier and reflect the light in a romantic way. This style, however, moved away from the cushion shape and has a true round shape. It is for this reason that this style is most often compared with the more modern cuts that came after. 

Modern Round Brilliant

Round Brilliant diamonds, which is the contemporary cut of today, have evolved from the earlier Old Mine and Old European Cuts. With advances in technology, diamond cutters have been able to focus on a more technical, precise manner of cutting diamonds. Unlike the hand-cutting of the past, stones are now laser-cut in a very streamlined manner in the hopes of maximizing the light reflection from inside the diamond. The facets are more slender and radiate from the center. These stones can still be found reclaimed even though they are modern cuts. Below is a side-by-side comparison of an Old European Cut diamond (top) and a Modern Round Brilliant Cut (bottom). Notice the difference is the shape and arrangement of the facets.



Why reclaimed?

Reclaimed diamonds are stunning, incredibly unique, and sustainable - what’s not to love? We specialize in reclaimed and antique diamonds with the intention of providing an eco-friendly and socially responsible option for our clients. In using reclaimed diamonds, we’re not contributing to new mining and we’re using what’s already available above ground. There are plenty of beautiful options already out there just waiting to be repurposed into something new! The environmental and social benefits of using reclaimed stones aren’t the only reason we love them. Knowing that each stone has lived a prior life - a mystery left to our imaginations - brings a unique history not found with newly mined stones. It’s magical to think of the life they’ve lived before they become yours!


Have more questions about diamonds?

Contact us at hello@sophiehughes.com and ask away!