In recent years, technology has allowed much of diamond cutting to become more and more standardized, cutting technically ‘perfect’ diamonds that allow for the most scintillating play of light possible. While there is no question that these more standardized, mathematically, and proportionally ‘perfect’ natural diamonds are drop-dead gorgeous, to some, they can lack the artistic touch that a skilled diamond cutter can bring to a natural diamond in the cutting process. If you’ve never seen diamonds that were cut before this technological innovation, you are not alone. Old mine and old euro-cut diamonds fit in this category, but they are harder and harder to find as they haven’t been cut in over half a century. The rose cut, however, is full of that artistic originality and, luckily, has become more and more available as people discover what sets it apart.
What Is a Rose Cut Diamond?
The style and technique of cutting a rose-cut diamond is believed to have been developed in India in the 15th century. By the 1520s, European gemstone cutters used the cut as the standard for diamond jewelry. As a result, many of the high-quality and famous antique diamonds available today, particularly from the Pre-Edwardian era when the cut reached its peak popularity, feature rose cut diamonds. Unlike brilliant cut diamonds you usually see, rose cuts do not have a pavilion (the bottom of a diamond that comes to a point) and, therefore, have a distinctively flatter shape on the back.
The crown of the diamond (the top section seen from above) is a faceted dome with anywhere from 3 to 24 facets (as compared to the brilliant cut’s 57 or 58 facets). The facets are often in two rows, with center star facets comprising the top of the diamond and a proportional number of facets on the second row. The rose-cut style can be applied to many shapes, so you can find rose cuts in round, oval, hexagon, trapezoid, and about anything you can imagine. Since there are fewer facets, rose-cut diamonds glow radiantly from within, emitting a captivating yet subtle sparkle rather than the intense shine of a brilliant cut.
Nowhere To Hide
The clarity of a diamond is the amount of visible inclusions inside the stone. The busy faceting pattern of the stone’s pavilion in brilliant cut stones can distract from or hide inclusions. However, a rose cut is flatter and less faceted, so any blemishes or inclusions will be more visible. The cut reveals the soul of the stone, emphasizing its unique internal characteristics and raw beauty. If you are looking for a crystal clear rose-cut diamond with little to no visible inclusions, this means looking for much higher clarity grades than brilliant cuts. However, heavily included diamonds and salt and pepper diamonds tend to look better as rose cuts since the inclusions are more accurately visible, unlike in a brilliant cut where the extra facets will cause the inclusions to reflect all over the stone. If you want to appreciate the unique inclusions and personality inside the diamond, then a rose cut is the way to go.
What Sets a Rose Cut Apart?
A brilliant cut diamond holds much of its carat weight internally and below the top of the stone where it is not visible. Since a rose cut doesn’t have a pavilion, it is more “spread,” meaning the majority of the carat weight is on the top/face of the diamond, helping it to appear larger than a brilliant cut of the same carat weight. This can mean a rose cut can appear larger for the same budget. Their flat bottoms also allow them to sit closer to the skin than other diamond cuts, offering a unique sense of intimacy. Since the rose cut was invited long before electricity, their faceting pattern was made for candlelight—streaming light through rose-cut stones to emit a soft glow rather than intense sparkle.
How Are They Cut?
Contrary to brilliant-cut diamonds’ standardized shape, facet arrangement differs in every rose-cut diamond. In turn, it requires an intricate cutting process that prioritizes the unique and natural beauty of the original rough diamond. Just one rose cut can take several days to complete. The first step is to assess not only the quality of the rough diamond but also decide on its most optimal shape and facet arrangement. The diamond is then marked with a thin marker and put into a machine that creates a 3D scan before laser-cutting it into its initial shape (i.e., round, cushion, oval, etc.). Highly skilled diamantaires then examine the diamond and select the best way to facet it to maximize beauty, weight, clarity, and color. The faceting process requires a large machine with a metal and stone turntable layered with diamond dust (the only material strong enough to cut a diamond). The diamond is then placed into a claw-like tool that holds it in place as it is moved by hand onto the turning disk. Each position on the turning wheel can create a facet, so this is done and repositioned perfectly and placed back on the wheel over and over until the intended cut is achieved. Because each rose-cut diamond is hand-cut based on the original rough shape, diamantaires can optimize for minimal waste (meaning fewer pieces of the diamond get sliced off and “lost”), saving the consumer money compared to other cuts.
In an age where precision and uniformity have become the hallmark of diamond cutting, the allure of the rose-cut diamond stands as a testament to the artistry and individuality inherent in every natural diamond. While modern technology has paved the way for impeccably proportioned diamonds that dance with light, the rose cut harks back to an era when craftsmanship and originality reigned supreme. It’s understated elegance and delicate play of light evoke a sense of timeless beauty that captivates those who are anything but traditional. The rose-cut diamond, a true masterpiece of tradition and ingenuity, offers a window into the past while enchanting the present, a reminder that within every natural diamond lies an untold story waiting to be discovered.