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Seeking Buying Tips For A Loose 'old Miner'


SaurmY88
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I was very close to pulling the trigger on a purchase of a princess cut diamond to build a ring for my future fiancée. Fortunately, we were doing some casual jewelry browsing at antique/estate jewelry stores in New Orleans while on weekend getaway, and she surprised me with what grabbed her. She fell in love with the old miners. Despite their obvious asymmetries, big facets, big culet, small table, etc.. She likes the nostalgia associated with having an antique stone. And, the diamond she liked was almost a faint yellow, which surprised me even more.

 

I personally liked all the colors that seemed to be reflected. I don’t know if it is my untrained eye or not, but it appeared to have more colors visible in these stones than typical clean white modern cut diamonds. Then again, the one she liked the most was a 2 carat stone, which, is a bit over what I’m after. She’s not normally awed by size though, so I don’t think that was the contributing factor for her change of heart. Oddly enough, she didn’t particularly care for a modern cushion cut, having selected the princess cut over it on a previous occasion.

 

Needless to say, I’ve started completely over in my research and sourcing of a loose old mine cut diamond to pair with a ring I’m designing.

 

A few things have stumped me in this pursuit.

 

1. I’m realizing that I’m limiting my pool of diamonds to choose from greatly by going in this direction. I went to the most reputable jeweler of antique/estate jewelry in a prominent city in the U.S. here (not sure if I want to give up my local just yet, it seems to be a small diamond world after all). And after suggesting that I’m shopping for something in a fairly good range of cut, clarity and carat, and asking for a good amount of stones to choose from, the jeweler is suggesting that it might be difficult to come up with more than a couple to choose from. Another seller of loose stones who was selected via findmyjeweler.com led me to a place that had only one non-certified old mine cut available, period. Are these this rare? Should I expect to only have a few stones to choose from?

 

2. Online sources seem to be completely inept at categorizing old mine cut diamonds as searchable cuts, or simply do not carry them at all; often I cannot determine which. If anyone has any more leads for online pricing and research, I’d love a pointer.

 

3. The pricing of these diamonds baffles me. Some seem to indicate that they are worth more than modern counterparts, some seem to suggest less. I personally would guess them to be priced similar to ‘cushion cut’ diamonds, perhaps even discounted. Maybe priced in between princess and brilliant rounds? Am I wrong in assuming this?

 

4. How can I distinguish between a true antique diamond and one that is a recreation (should they exist, as some suggest they do)? And more importantly, should I care?

 

5. If anyone has any recommendations for a trustworthy source that I can utilize to aid in my quest, I’d be grateful.

 

Mostly what I’m after is a treasure that she will cherish indefinitely. However, I’m also a very careful shopper (in all things really) and want good value for my money.

 

Thanks in advance for any advice or comments some of you may have for me.

Edited by SaurmY88
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Don't have the time right now to write the novel your post deserves as an answer - but some quick notes:

 

1. They aren't super-rare, but they are definitely far less common than modern cut stones. Partly because the total production of diamonds since the 1980s is several times the production until the 1980s - of which OMC/OEC are only a relatively small part, partly because many are still set or have been recut through the years, and partly because until a couple of years ago, they were decidedly unfashionable, and even now they are a niche play. I may be wrong - but you are ahead of the curve here.

 

2. Can't help there, except to suggest to choose your sources/jewellers first, and then have them do some of the legwork

 

3. Because they are far from a standard product it may be difficult to find patterns in prices, but there is one. Well cut, sparkly OMCs are difficult to find, and specialist dealers rightly ask a premium. Run-of-the-mill stones can be distinctly unattractive ("piece of glass" look), and will go at a discount. If the stone can be recut to a modern standard without losing too much weight it will attract a premium - even if it's never going to be recut. High colour is rare® than in modern stones, so commands a higher premium... all of which is going to change in the next 5 minutes depending on fashion.

 

If I were to buy an old cut, I'd tread a different path than the usual RB buyer, coming up with rules and "number-based" filters to apply to the thousands and thousands of diamonds on offer. Research the dealers that have this type of stock (some starting points below), and ask them to come up with things in your budget!

 

4. People are cutting new Old Miners now. Apart from general "irregularity" of form (facets that don't meet, unequal sizes, so-so polish), large culet and chunky faceting, there is little you can do to tell a new OMC from an old OMC. All of the above can be imitated (and in the case of lack of simmetry probably cost even less to make!). But why worry? Since it's not an antique painting, all that matters is that you like it!

 

5. Loose stones: David at Diamonds By Lauren has some; I'm sure Barry at Excel Diamonds can get hold of them; Jon at GoodOldGold has some; JewelsbyEricaGrace specialise in old stones. Estate jewellery dealers are a good source, but will generally want to sell you the whole piece, rather than the loose stone. There's a plethora of these, but good ones are few and far between. Take a look at Lang Antiques, Nelson Rarities and Adin for a flavour of the best (in my opinion).

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David, Thanks for taking the time to respond!

 

I've actually looked through Diamonds by Lauren before coming here. And I did notice that David is a regular contributor here.

 

I do like the looks of the 1.17ct OMC Diamonds by Lauren has right now, but I'm concerned about the 'L' to be honest. It might me a bit too colored for my tastes. But I haven't really looked (in person) at any OMC lower than 'I' yet, so I suppose I can't be too certain. The store in New Orleans told me the 2ct OMC they had there was an 'H'. But I'm not entirely sure I'm believing it, considering it was set in platinum and I could pick up the yellow tint quite easily. I didn't ask if it was certified or not, because we were keeping it light and fun at the time.

 

I'll try to look into some of your other suggestions as well. Thanks for the leads and the insight.

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Yeah - you don't want that 1.17. Nasty, yellowish and ugly. Leave it to me... :angry:

 

Hehe... I guess that is sarcasm? Are you suggesting an L could be the diamond for me? Neither of us are overly picky when it comes to color. But it seems my local jeweler thought anything lower than 'I' or so isn't worth showing.

 

In fairness to the 'other' vendor, I believe I was able to pick up the yellow hue on the supposed 2ct 'H' from the side. Should I have been able to do that?

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HI All!

SarumY88- I love the old cuts as well!

Thank you Davidelevi for those nice words!

I agree with just about everything Davide said.

When I'm looking at an old mine or OEC I realize that there's no way to know exactly when it was cut.

One thing I love about the 1.17ct is the fact it looks brand new, in terms of condition.

I can't really get used to chipped stones.

When it comes to antique jewelry, it's a different story.

It would be smarter to leave a chipped diamond as is if removing it would destroy an antique bezel for example.

 

We are considering buying a few pieces of rough to cut into old mine cushions.

In terms of price, my experience is that when you find stones from reliable sources it's not cheap.

If we do cut the rough part of our job will involve assessing the price of the rough, compared to the expected yield.

We'll know approximately how much we'll loose.

Anyway, when I do the calculations, I'll consider the stone to have comparable value to an Emerald Cut, Radiant or Pear Shape of modern cut.

Less than the current crop of "ideal cut" round brilliants

 

In terms of color, only you can answer if it's a bother. The 1.17 is a softer white, but I don;t see it as "yellow" or off color in any way.

Of course I look at vivid yellows every day as well, so maybe that's part of how I see things....

The fact you picked up some color would indicate loose grading- but of course we can't be sure of that.

 

I can tell you that higher colors in the old cuts are quite rare- and bring very high prices.

Edited by diamondsbylauren
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Hehe... I guess that is sarcasm? Are you suggesting an L could be the diamond for me? Neither of us are overly picky when it comes to color. But it seems my local jeweler thought anything lower than 'I' or so isn't worth showing.

 

In fairness to the 'other' vendor, I believe I was able to pick up the yellow hue on the supposed 2ct 'H' from the side. Should I have been able to do that?

 

I wouldn't go as far as calling it sarcasm, but definitely irony. :) I really like that stone - colour is the least of my concerns when you get that kind of cut.

 

From your jeweller's point of view, if 90% of your stock is I or above, that's clearly what you are going to push. This may be a slightly cynical point of view, but...

 

On picking up an H's body colour from the side - it's much easier, but still I'd think that's a very generously graded H. More likely a J or a K. It could also be that your colour sense is particularly well developed. Then again, I'm speaking without having seen the stone.

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In terms of color, only you can answer if it's a bother. The 1.17 is a softer white, but I don;t see it as "yellow" or off color in any way.

Of course I look at vivid yellows every day as well, so maybe that's part of how I see things....

 

I can tell you that higher colors in the old cuts are quite rare- and bring very high prices.

 

I wouldn't go as far as calling it sarcasm, but definitely irony. :) I really like that stone - colour is the least of my concerns when you get that kind of cut.

 

From your jeweller's point of view, if 90% of your stock is I or above, that's clearly what you are going to push. This may be a slightly cynical point of view, but...

 

My local jeweler seems to be pooling stones from a few other collectors. So it sounds like to me that she can get me more stones to choose from if I open up the colour range a bit more. She was the one pushing me towards the G-I. It doesn't sounds like its a 'stock' issue. That's not to say that there isn't a motivation to sell something more expensive, I can't be for certain on that matter.

 

On this most recent round of stones she's bringing in, she's asked me if I wanted to go lower than 'J', suggesting that there might be more out there.

 

After having this discussion with you 2 here, I've suggested that I want her to pull some more stones in the J-L range as well for our next viewing.

 

It seems to me that you both seem to agree that cut is king for a stone like this. So I like that I am opening it up more to get more stones in to select my 'perfect' stone.

 

Anyway, when I do the calculations, I'll consider the stone to have comparable value to an Emerald Cut, Radiant or Pear Shape of modern cut.

Less than the current crop of "ideal cut" round brilliants

 

I can tell you that higher colors in the old cuts are quite rare- and bring very high prices.

 

In terms of price, my experience is that when you find stones from reliable sources it's not cheap.

 

Hmm.. seem to be conflicting statements. So there is a premium applied to OMC's if they are of high colour, above and beyond "ideal cut" modern round? But, they should be priced as Emerald, Radiant or Pear (lower than round brilliant)?

 

My local jeweler had a few stones of G-I range for me to choose from on my first visit, actually collected for a different client to choose his stone. Prices seemed reasonable, but definately scattered based on some factor(s) I couldn't guage given my limited experience. Here's 2 examples of stones I looked at most recently:

 

1. 1.11 ct, VS1-I, GIA, 6.1x5.44x4.22 - $4800 is exactly the average price per carat of modern rounds in this size range (4300/ct., by my calcs here using the diamond finder).

2. 1.07 ct, VS2-H, EGL (should I be concerned about EGL?), 6.61x5.79x3.71 - $6000 is 16% over the average of a modern round.

 

Doesnt' seem to be much consistency here...

 

We are considering buying a few pieces of rough to cut into old mine cushions.

 

If we do cut the rough part of our job will involve assessing the price of the rough, compared to the expected yield.

We'll know approximately how much we'll loose.

Anyway, when I do the calculations, I'll consider the stone to have comparable value to an Emerald Cut, Radiant or Pear Shape of modern cut.

Less than the current crop of "ideal cut" round brilliants

 

OMC's are cut more for weight than modern cuts though, right? So wouldn't you be picking up more profit out of this approach? And you seem to suggest that you are considering it, and haven't tried it yet. Fess up, I'm sure you've given it a go!

 

I'll be sure and get my fiancee to do some advertising of the throw back ring we're building, so we can drum up the enthusiasm for these OMC's... help spur on a revival or something. :)

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SaurmY88- very good points!

I can't even make sense of what I wrote yesterday.

Let's clarify.

My local jeweler seems to be pooling stones from a few other collectors. So it sounds like to me that she can get me more stones to choose from if I open up the colour range a bit more. She was the one pushing me towards the G-I. It doesn't sounds like its a 'stock' issue. That's not to say that there isn't a motivation to sell something more expensive, I can't be for certain on that matter.

This is an all too common occurrence.

Someone walks into a jewelry store asking for a 2 carat diamond.

When a $25,000 price is quoted for a G/VS2, the consumer asks how to get one for less.

If the consumer asks about going to J color, it's unfortunately common for the jeweler to say something like "Oh J colors are garbage- you don;t want something like that"

Of course that's absurd, and incredibly presumtuos for a seller to say something like that- but it does go on.

On this most recent round of stones she's bringing in, she's asked me if I wanted to go lower than 'J', suggesting that there might be more out there.

 

After having this discussion with you 2 here, I've suggested that I want her to pull some more stones in the J-L range as well for our next viewing.

 

It seems to me that you both seem to agree that cut is king for a stone like this. So I like that I am opening it up more to get more stones in to select my 'perfect' stone.

 

I can't speak for Davide- but I feel quite sure he agrees that the cut of a diamond is crucial to it's beauty.

The problem for many consumers is, how would they know if they are getting a well cut stone.

To solve this problem, there are guides, and charts telling you exactly what to look for.

This creates an entirely different problem.

Imagine you were buying a car, but instead of using your taste, you use someone else's.

Both the Camaro, and Mustang will get you where you want to go. But there's some subtle, and not so subtle differences between the two.

Is one better? I'm quite sure Chevy can produce charts showing how the new Camaro is better than the Mustang.

Of course Ford will have their own charts to prove the superiority of their product.

With cars, consumers can really look ands see differences.

 

But a lot of people shopping for diamonds are going to believe all they read, and buy a "perfectly cut" diamond- when a really well cut diamond might have been vitually identical to them, from a visual standpoint. And also might have cost them 20% less.

Or they might have had a 20% larger diamond.

 

This is basically what has been going on in the diamond world for about the last 20 years- in the past 7 years, its gotten way out of hand IMO.

In some senses, this is what drives me to fill our site with unusual cuts that defy classification by these means.

 

IMO, if we take the "hands/eyes on" element out of judging a diamond, and go by charts and measurements, we've lost something very important.

 

Anyway, Old Mine cuts are irregular by their very nature.

I believe that the use of EGL for Old Mine and OEC diamonds is just another example of sellers making hay of loose grading.

ON the other hand, GIA does not really provide the best reports for older stones.

it's clinical, for sure- but generic at the same time.

Another stone having the same description could look completely different.

r2864cert.jpg

r2864b.jpg

Plus, calling the symmetry "fair" is probably objective, if we're comparing to modern cutting styles- but compared to many other Old Mine Diamonds I've seen, I think this one has good symmetry.

 

 

The price issue:

You're correct, I was ambiguous in my prior post.

Basically after over 30 years in this business,(gulp) I just recently started working with older cuts.

I know of other dealers that carry these stones as their stock and trade.

When I went to see stones, with the intent of purchasing them, I was surprised that the prices seemed pretty much like I was looking at newly cut, modern Cushions, Pears, Ovals, Emerald Cuts- fancy shapes in general. I was surprised as I hoestly expected older stones to go for a lot less.

 

When comparing prices in general, the costliest shape to purchase is round brilliant. Especially if we're talking the AGS0 cut grade "Ideal" - Hearts and Arrows..

 

There may be some other boutique cuts that are more- such as Tiffany's Lucida- but in general, round are o the top rung with fancy shapes- including old mine cuts, are a step down in price.

 

I'd be interested to see what you think if the two stones you are going to see.

The more expensive one might actually be a lower grade that the less costly stone.

However, the EGL stone is going to dwarf the other- it's got a lot more surface area.

 

 

OMC's are cut more for weight than modern cuts though, right? So wouldn't you be picking up more profit out of this approach? And you seem to suggest that you are considering it, and haven't tried it yet. Fess up, I'm sure you've given it a go!

 

Actually, we've only been involved in cutting for repairs.

We know a lot of cutters- but buying polished is what we do.

It's a totally different business as compared to buying rough and polishing it.

In fact, if we weren't "under the wing" of a very powerful cutter, I'd never feel comfortable knowing which rough to buy- if we actually go ahead and do it.

 

As I mentioned, we'd ( more accurately our friend) will be able to estimate how much of the rough diamond he'll have to polish away to come up with the cut we want.

You're correct - if we wanted him to cut the rough for AGS 0 cut grade - which he does all the time- we'd have a much smaller diamond after he's done.

But I'm not looking for that- I want it to be ....irregular. Chunky.

 

I'd also be looking for a "cape" stone- maybe even one with some brown, for the heck of it!

If we do it, this will be the first time we've bought a rough to cut.

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So I went in for an appointment Sat. to look at the collection of stones they pulled together for me.

 

I had a small collection of certified and non-certified to choose from, and for comparison sakes they also pulled some modern cushions so I could make sure 'Old Mine' was what I wanted.

 

Old Mines crushed the modern cushion cut, in my opinion! I like the chunky rainbows! Modern cushion cuts break up the light too much. My eyes average out the tiny rainbows back from the tiny facets into only white light coming back, which is not what we are after.

 

It came down to 2 at the end of the selection process:

 

1. 1.11 ct, VS1-I, GIA, 6.1x5.44x4.22 - $4800

2. 1.26 ct, VS1-J, NON-CERT, 6.58x6.35x - $5450

 

And, to be honest, I liked the 1.26ct J better than the 1.11ct I. The J has a color I can pretty easily pick up, but the body colour is a grey (or more probably a light brown that is closer to the grey). Some of the other I-L stones I looked at had 'cloudiness' to them. The 1.26J is clear as can be, but it definately has a body tint. Oddly enough, the GIA certed 'I' looked too white to me.

 

Its definately an old stone, or a new stone that has been in a rock polisher with other diamonds.. lol. I can pick up surface abrassions on it with a 10x loop. It is eye clean for certain, however. I was unable to find the internal flaws with just the 10x loop. So I'm happy with it in those regards.

 

So I'm happy with the stone, and comfortable with the price.... BUT.. its a non-cert stone.

 

As far as my research goes, this is a very respected and reputable jeweler specializing in antique and estate jewelry. I doubt I have much reason to distrust her opinion on the stone.

 

Should I pay to have the stone certified before making my purchase? Should I split the cost of certing it with her or her supplier?

 

Or, as she suggested, with a stone of this size/quality/price, that certing it is really not that important, and its not uncommon for these older stones to remain un-certified.

 

Please let me know your thoughts, guys!

 

If I don't hear from anyone, I'm pulling the trigger on this today.

 

They are making some headway on the CADS for the ring design I'm orchestrating. I'll be sure and get you guys some pictures so you can see the process come together.

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It is not uncommon for older stones to be ungraded by a lab. If it is a deal breaker for you to know exactly what you have, and/or you are uncomfortable with the dealer's assessment, then buy it conditional on the dealer getting it graded by GIA and the grade being what she declares plus or minus one grade.

 

On a <1.50 stone it's about $120 plus return shipping; I'd expect the dealer to pay for this, but on the other hand a more agreeable situation may be engineered with her offering you a discount on the setting (or something else) and you paying for the report...

 

Congratulations!

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It is not uncommon for older stones to be ungraded by a lab. If it is a deal breaker for you to know exactly what you have, and/or you are uncomfortable with the dealer's assessment, then buy it conditional on the dealer getting it graded by GIA and the grade being what she declares plus or minus one grade.

 

On a <1.50 stone it's about $120 plus return shipping; I'd expect the dealer to pay for this, but on the other hand a more agreeable situation may be engineered with her offering you a discount on the setting (or something else) and you paying for the report...

 

Congratulations!

 

For the purposes of an appraisal after we complete the ring, and I go to get it insured, is it necessary to have the center stone lab certified?

 

And, should I get an independent appraisal on this after we finish building it?

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No. The appraisal is generally what the insurance policy is based on; clearly the more documentation there is the more likely it is that it will be replaced by something similar... (i.e. the appraiser will be able to say "GIA-graded so and so" and the insurance company will have to provide a GIA-graded stone).

 

Unless you plan not to have insurance, yes. Sometimes the appraiser who looks at the loose stone will offer an appraisal for the mounted item included in the price of the first appraisal

 

Neil - please correct/comment if appropriate

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  • 3 months later...
I was very close to pulling the trigger on a purchase of a princess cut diamond to build a ring for my future fiancée. Fortunately, we were doing some casual jewelry browsing at antique/estate jewelry stores in New Orleans while on weekend getaway, and she surprised me with what grabbed her. She fell in love with the old miners. Despite their obvious asymmetries, big facets, big culet, small table, etc.. She likes the nostalgia associated with having an antique stone. And, the diamond she liked was almost a faint yellow, which surprised me even more.

 

...

 

Thanks in advance for any advice or comments some of you may have for me.

 

Come on.. you've been talking about this for months.. when you going to pop the question??

 

My wife loves the diamonds I've bought for her.. so happy to chat about that..

 

You've got my skype contacts still - hope to chat soon.

 

Heinz

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