The Art of Traditional Diamond Craftsmanship

Learn about the beauty and lost art of traditional diamond cutting with one of the jewelry specialists at Fortuna. In the modern age, diamond cutting has been perfected with advanced machinery and a rough diamond can be transformed into a faceted stone with optimal brilliance. But how did the master jewelers and diamantaires in the age before mechanized tools accomplish such a feat? Watch the video to appreciate the skill and patience required to create a diamond the traditional way.

Types of Antique Diamonds

Diamonds that have been cut in the traditional way might not be as brilliant or scatter light with the same vigor as modern diamonds, but they are heavily appreciated for the craftsmanship behind them and the warm, subtle glow they give off. In fact, their market value has steadily increased and continue to be heavily sought after. Here are some of the main traditional diamond cuts used in antique jewelry:

Single Cut: One of the oldest diamond cuts, the single cut dates back to 1300s. It possesses a large table (or top face), and octagonal girdle (which refers to the defining edge that shapes a diamond). A single cut diamond usually has 18 facets—almost a quarter of the facets seen in the modern round brilliant cut diamonds.

Rose Cut: The rose cut dates to the 1500s and was especially common during the Georgian and Victorian eras. It features a flat bottom with a dome-shaped crown, with triangular facets rising to a single apex—thus, resembling the shape of a rose bud.

A Victorian brooch featuring a center old European-cut diamond, surrounded by old mine-cut diamonds throughout. (Fortuna September 2017 Fine Jewels)

Old Mine Cut: Diamonds with this cut are somewhat similar to today’s cushion-cut. They possess a squarish girdle with gently rounded corners, and have a high crown, a small table, and a large, flat culet (which refers to the pointed bottom of diamonds). The old mine cut dates to the 1700s and was most prevalent during the 1800s.

Old European Cut: This diamond cut is considered a subset of old mine cut diamonds, but are distinguished by a circular girdle, instead of a squared one. Like the old mine cut, it possesses a high crown, small table, and a noticeably flat culet. With 58 facets, it is the precursor of today’s modern round brilliant cut. The Old European cut was heavily used in jewelry of the Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Nouveau eras.

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The Importance of GIA Diamond Grading

When you submit your items for consignment at Fortuna, our jewelry experts will give you their best assessment as to what your piece would fetch at auction; there are many factors to consider, such as condition, age, provenance, quality, current market conditions, and rarity. After our primary assessment, we will then discuss with you the possibility of submitting your items for certification at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

What Is a GIA Report?

A GIA report is a worldwide recognized diamond grading report. A GIA diamond grading report breaks down the four characteristics of a diamond. It reports a scientific and unbiased assessment stating the diamond’s authenticity. It also states if the diamond has undergone any treatments.

The report provides information about the diamond for jewelry experts to use to provide a value for your jewelry. GIA diamonds provide more value to your diamond because the diamond now has factual information attached to it. GIA diamond grading allows you to know specific information about the diamond you may have not known before.

Why GIA?

Even if you’re not in the diamond industry, you’re probably familiar with the 4 C’s of diamond grading: Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat Weight. These are objective values of a diamond’s characteristics used to determine the value of a diamond. This now internationally adopted metric was created by GIA, as such, they continue to be the most trusted diamond graders in the industry.

Having a certificate from GIA instills a sense of trust in prospective buyers, for industry professionals know all the extra work a GIA diamond grader puts into collecting information about your stone. They take your diamond or other precious stones out of their mounting and inspect them from every possible angle. A certificate from GIA will increase the value of your item, not because the item is suddenly any different, but because it has undergone a much more thorough inspection by multiple seasoned professionals. After your stones have been observed by all the available channels, your stones will be placed back in their original mounting, exactly how they were before; this is true for big stones on rings, and for small diamonds around a bracelet. GIA reports are not appraisals they are an objective assessment of a diamond’s quality, information which appraisers then use in assigning value.

In addition to a diamond’s 4Cs information, the Diamond Grading Report provides a plotted diagram of the stone’s clarity characteristics and a graphic representation of its proportions, information which serves to identify the individual stone.

How Do You Read a GIA Diamond Report?

Each GIA diamond report includes a unique number that can be used to look up the report online. The report has a GIA color scale ranging from D to Z.

  • D-F: The diamond is colorless.
  • G-J: The diamond has a little color, but is nearly colorless.
  • K-M: There is a faint color that may be noticeable to the eye.
  • N-R: Color in the diamond is considered very light.
  • S-Z: Diamond is considered “light” or on the darker end of the scale.

GIA assesses the clarity of the diamond by looking for inclusions and surface blemishes. They include a clarity scale and will assign one of the 11 clarity grades based on amount, size, relief, nature and position. The most prominent clarity characteristics will be shown on a diagrams within the report with a key for each symbol used in the diagrams. GIA has a cut scale ranging from excellent to poor. The cut grade is assigned from seven components:

  • Polish
  • Symmetry
  • Weight Ratio
  • Durability
  • Brightness
  • Fire
  • Scintillation

The GIA diamond grading report will also include a diagram detailing the exact profile and proportions of the diamond. All four main characteristics including the weight of the diamond in carats are stated in a concise summary under grading results on the report.

Who Does a GIA Diamond Report?

Employees from GIA conduct the GIA Diamond report. As members of GIA, they do not sell diamonds. GIA is an independent entity only looking at the exact qualities of the gem and providing a report of any changes that may have been made to the diamond. The members hired to investigate and grade the diamonds for the reports. These members include gemologists, research scientists and diamond graders.

A diamond goes through each type of expert to be cross-checked and analyzed for the most accurate information to be provided on the report GIA gives about each diamond and gem. Each expert will take the gem or diamond out of the mounting to get an accurate carat weight, clarity grade and color grade of the item. The jewel will be placed back into the mounting when the report is completed to look exactly the way it did when it was first sent to GIA.

Should I get a GIA Report before submitting my items for consignment?

The simple answer is, no. When submitting your items for consignment you should always send us any reports, certifications, proofs of purchase that you already have that could contribute to the value of your item. However, you don’t have to worry about sending your items to GIA, here at Fortuna we provide a preliminary assessment, and then through discussion with you, decide whether a GIA report is necessary to better sell your item. We will never take your item to GIA without your express permission. Once we have the go-ahead from you, we will personally take your item to GIA, pick it up when the report is finished, and make all the arrangements for carefully un-mounting and re-mounting your stone. GIA reports are not always necessary depending on the item, and they also take time to acquire. It is always best to get a professional opinion first, and with Fortuna, we help you take care of all the details.

Contact Fortuna Auction for more information about GIA diamond grading reports and the value of your item.

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yellow diamond

Yellow Diamonds: Differences in Grades & Value

Many buyers associate diamonds with icy, colorless clarity, but in fact, diamonds can come in many colors, including pink and blue. One color that has seen some popularity in recent years is the yellow diamond.

Yellow diamonds, sometimes called canary diamonds, are always created by one of two things — the color may be either introduced artificially or found in nature. Natural yellow diamonds get their color from the presence of nitrogen molecules.


Is a Yellow Diamond Rare?

White diamonds are graded from D to Z in terms of purity of color. As they get closer to Z, they take on a yellow hue due to imperfections and decrease in value. Once natural diamonds are completely out of this range, they can take on a deep, rich color and their beauty becomes sublime. These diamonds are referred to as “fancy colored.”

Only a small percentage of mined diamonds have a deep, true color. Of these, the majority are yellow. Therefore, while natural yellow diamonds are still very rare, they are much easier to find on the market compared to other fancy colored diamonds.

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diamond ring

What is the Worth of a Diamond?

Almost all diamonds share similar traits. They sparkle. They delight. They adorn. Yet, to a jewelry investor or a gemstone collector, each diamond has a specific value that transcends its natural beauty.

Auction consignors and their preferred auction houses must, therefore, determine the market value of every diamond. However, approximating a diamond’s likely selling point involves digging deeper into the diamond itself. Below are some of the factors that help indicate how much a diamond is worth within a national or global marketplace.

Evaluating the 4Cs of a Diamond

Most diamond owners or buyers have heard of the 4Cs: Cut, Clarity, Carat weight and Color. Gemologists and jewelers lean on these four factors to help them define a diamond.

Without the 4Cs, which were established nearly 70 years ago, diamonds would be challenging to differentiate objectively. The 4Cs provide a solid platform that everyone can agree upon. For instance, the color of a diamond has a strong impact on its worth. Usually, the closer to colorless a diamond is, the more highly it is prized. Therefore, a truly or practically clear diamond will have a better color grade than one with a yellowish tint. However, the color isn’t always bad. The general rule of thumb is, if a diamond is colored, the more intense the color the better.

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