Antique Jewellery Guide | Berganza

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jewellery terms glossary


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A glossary of jewellery terms


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CUSHION

Cushion cut diamonds are exceedingly beautiful and are found almost exclusively in antique jewellery.

When you see a cushion cut diamond, you immediately know that it was cut over 100 years ago and as such is one of the very earliest cuts of diamonds. The most usual shape of a natural rough diamond crystal- the octahedron- naturally lends itself to the cushion shape, with a rectangular or square outline with softly rounded corners.

Each cushion cut diamond displays unique irregularities in symmetry and proportions as each would have been cut by hand. Antique cushion cuts are known for their steeper crown facets, smaller tables, and larger culets. Every single cushion cut would have been cut to maximise the beauty of each individual diamond crystal, as opposed to modern day diamonds which are cut to retain as much diamond weight as possible. There is also a radical difference in cutting techniques, with modern diamonds being cut by laser machines, so that every single diamond has the same proportions. In contrast, cutting a diamond by hand was highly skilled work and extremely labour intensive, with no two cushion cuts looking identical.

Cushion were fashioned to look at their best in the lighting of the time- namely candlelight, gaslight and natural light. These diamonds have a completely different allure to more modern diamonds, with larger facets which create a particular sparkle made up of bright flashes of rainbow coloured ‘fire’. Queen Victoria was particularly enamoured with the beauty of diamond set jewellery, and decreed that diamonds should only be worn by married ladies- and only in the evening when their glitter would be best exhibited.

A very rare cut of cushion shape diamonds is the ‘old mine’ cut. This cut is the very earliest form of cushion shape diamond. If you see an old mine cushion shape diamond, you know that the diamond would have originated from one of the first diamond sources ever discovered- namely India or Brazil. You do not see this cut from the abundant South African mines which were discovered in the late 1860s, the world leader in production of diamonds on the market continually to this day. Old mine diamonds typically have deep proportions and are slightly more irregular both in outline and arrangement of facets, scintillating with old world charm.



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Updated 26/10/2021 at 5:20PM

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