Early 1900s antique diamond earrings set with hand cut, rose cut diamonds.
What are hand cut, rose cut diamonds?
The almost ‘raw’ look of these diamonds belong to Straits Chinese jewelry art, beginning in the 19th century and throughout the 20th century, tapering off after the second war. One can think of these diamonds to be similar to early rose cut diamonds in Georgian jewelry.
Because the eras before favoured the look of diamonds in two distinct styles – organically cut, or European cut diamonds – we recognise immediately if a piece is of Straits Chinese provenance.
Specifically, in the lineage of Straits Chinese organically cut diamonds, we observe another two cuts that look and feel different according to diamond size. The smaller diamonds tend to be more ‘hand cut diamonds’, while the bigger diamonds are more ‘rose cut diamonds’.
This pair is closer to hand cut diamonds than traditional rose cut diamonds because the diamonds are quite small, each about 1.5 to 2mm.
Historically, many rose cut diamonds were cut in India and supplied to the West. It is no surprise much of Victorian and Straits Chinese diamond jewelry overlap since their diamonds come from the same source.
You can think of the diamonds on this pair of earrings as forming the earliest versions of rose cut diamonds. While we see many examples of rose cut diamonds in Georgian and Victorian jewelry, we hardly see such primitively cut diamonds set in clusters in Western jewelry.
It is very difficult to set such thinly spliced diamonds. The craftsmanship involved sawing and filing the grooves into place, then pushing very tiny but robust ‘prongs’ to sit snug on each splice. This is zany, tenous work lost to jewellers today.
From the side you can see the diamonds are really a splice after splice (which explains why it is pointless to mind about ‘carat’ weight when it comes to these hand cut diamonds!).
Go for this pair, if you love the look of raw diamonds.
These diamonds have the essence of an untouched diamond. They are uniformly white (not a given for organically cut diamonds) and twinkle by their few facets.