Diamonds have been set into jewellery since ancient times with the oldest existing examples dating from Ancient Rome. These first diamond set rings were set with diamonds unaltered from their natural octahedral crystal form as the technology did not yet exist for cutting them. Though not technically a cut since the diamond was unchanged from its mineral state, these are now termed ‘point cut' diamonds. Often a little distorted in shape and irregular, they were believed never-the-less to have magical powers.
Throughout history diamonds have been prized for their hardness- long ago, point cut diamonds were nicknamed ‘writing diamonds' as the diamond point could scratch any other substance. This unique feature of point cuts was even mentioned in the Old Testament in the book of Jeremiah 17:1 ‘The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond.'
The first ‘improvements' to the rough diamond crystal came in the form of polishing the sides of the crystal, creating surfaces which were even and unblemished, forming a distinctive symmetrical pyramid shaped point. Point cut diamond rings would have been so rare that they would only have been affordable to the elite- ie royalty, nobility and highest members of the Church. In 1477 Mary of Burgundy was thought to be the first to receive a diamond engagement ring which was gifted to her by Archduke Maximilian of Austria. Her ring was set with a point cut diamond and it is likely that the tradition of the diamond engagement ring was sparked by this event.
Due to the scarcity and value of diamonds, most of these earliest point cuts were subsequently unset and re-cut once technology advanced, rendering any such jewel a remarkable survival. Visit Berganza online or in store to find out more about these astonishing jewels as well as our other museum-worthy historical curiosities.