Pat’s Jewelry Loving Grandma Lolly
“I have seven pieces of inherited jewelry from my Grandma Lolly that I never wear,” Pat said to me one day. “My challenge to you is to design a brand new custom piece of jewelry using all of the old diamonds from my Grandma.”
“Yes!” I love a good challenge! “Bring it!”
The challenge was that though most of the diamonds were of older cuts three were modern cuts from replacements of lost diamonds.
Vintage Diamonds or New Diamonds, They Are All Lovable
When you compare an older cut vintage diamond to a diamond with a modern cut, it is easy to see the difference.
Different doesn’t necessarily mean bad, it just means different.
Things can go bad, however, when you try to combine the two different diamond cuts into a single piece of jewelry next to each other without careful planning.
The new modern brilliant cut diamond will have a sparkle and fire that the older European cut diamond or old mine cut diamond just can’t match.
Therefore when designing with older cut diamonds there are some design rules, which I would like to share with you.
Hand Faceting Years Ago VS. Modern Cutting Technology
Before the rules, I want to give you a little bit of information about antique and vintage diamonds.
In the past, diamond cutters used techniques to cut diamonds that are no longer used today.
Time and technology have given diamond cutters the skills and resources that just weren’t available hundreds of years ago.
In the past, diamond cutters cut diamonds by hand, and created diamond shapes and dimensions that reflected the era in which the stone was cut.
Diamonds that were cut by hand exhibited less fire and brilliance than diamonds that are cut today.
Many people prefer the warmer, romantic glow that comes from a diamond cut by hand.
In fact, antique and vintage diamonds are starting to become quite a popular trend again.
More brides-to-be are deciding to go with the old-fashioned romance of an antique or vintage diamond as their stone of choice.
The Difference Between Vintage and Antique Diamonds to Our Eyes
Many antique and vintage cut diamonds are of lower color than what would be considered “top” color today.
But the unique cutting techniques and facet arrangements used on antique and vintage diamonds often serves to fool the eye into believing the actual color of the stone is much higher than it is, especially when it is set into a mounting.
One of the most unique factors of an antique or vintage diamond, is that the faceting arrangement creates a much more chunky and colorful play of light dispersion than a modern brilliant cut will display.
Seven Rules For Designing With Older Cut Diamonds
1. Do not mix modern cut diamonds with older style cuts of vintage diamonds. (Subtle sparkle vs. focused and flashing sparkle.)
2. Chose designs with vintage details to accent the charm of your older cut vintage diamonds. (Details like filigree, decorative hand engraving and fancy detail around center diamond.)
4. If your older diamonds exhibit slight off color details, try setting them in yellow gold or rose gold. (Yellow gold is better for slight yellow tones, rose gold is better for brown and grey tones.)
Pat’s Old Diamond Design Desires
A week later, Pat and I sat down at her kitchen table with her favorite aunt’s five rings and two pendants. I could immediately see that many of the diamonds were single cut—an older style with fewer facets.
The sizes and colors of the diamonds also varied widely. Fortunately, the largest diamond rated the best of the lot. Unfortunately, it had a few small chips on the sides.
“Grandma Lolly was my favorite and I’ll always love her,” Pat said. “She managed to take me on lots of adventures when I was young.
What I really want is to somehow use all her diamonds in one piece of jewelry.” I pulled out my pad and pencil and we got down to work.
Pat’s Design Wishes Translate into the Basic Shape
Pat wanted a heart shape to represent her love for her Grandma. We began with that.
Since there were a lot of diamonds there was no way that we could do a ring unless it was huge and kind of gaudy.
However we could totally make it as a pendant.
Problem Solving For a Chipped Diamond
Since the large, center diamond was chipped in multiple places on the sides, I suggested we bezel set it to cover up the imperfections.
Pat agreed. She didn’t want to re-cut the diamond. She kind of liked the personality of those chips.
She liked the idea of knowing they would be hiding there under the bezel setting.
After several different configurations, we finally settled on placing the largest diamond in the center of the heart. Pat had a mixture of single cut small diamonds and Old Mine Cut medium cut diamonds.
Dealing With Different Sizes and Colors of Diamonds
Since the diamonds were different sizes, we chose to arrange them from biggest nearest to the center to smallest radiating outward. We used the tiny modern cut diamonds down low and too the side where they didn’t make the other diamonds look bad.
I suggested we place some of the more “off color” diamonds on the outer edge where the design curved down, where they’d be less visible. Pat liked that idea.
“I also think pave setting would be the way to go,” I said to her. “For setting the smaller diamonds.”
“Pave is a style of setting that would allow us to set the diamonds close to each other and capture the curvy puffed nature of the design we’re looking for. After we cast the basic shape, the setter will create the tiny prongs to hold the diamonds. This allows the setter to accommodate different size gems. It’s like he’s putting together a puzzle.”
The Happiness of Your New Piece of Redesigned
Four weeks later I presented Pat with her finished heart pendant.
“Oh my God!” she exclaimed with tears running down her cheeks.
Admittedly, my eyes weren’t completely dry either. It was such a happy moment.
Pat gets many opportunities to tell stories about her grandmother when people ask about her pendant.
Pat told me, “Calla, I’m so glad I re-used Grandma’s diamonds. I love my necklace!”
Do You Have Unworn Older Jewelry?
Do you have older cut vintage diamonds? Loose or set, you might like to make use of in a new piece of jewelry?
Redesigning older jewelry is a wonderful adventure. Call me and we’ll find your inner jewelry designer! And make you a piece of jewelry to cherish.
Old Cut Diamond Re-Designer,
PS. Check out my blog on Rose Cuts, Old European and Old Mine Cut diamonds.