Updated: Sep 9, 2019
An old European cut diamond is a round brilliant cut diamond with lower halves that are shorter than is considered standard for today's round brilliant cuts, but are typical of round brilliants of earlier periods. They also commonly have a larger culet than today’s round brilliants, but not always. The term old European cut began as a misnomer, used to disparage someone else’s merchandise. The implication being that we have the newest most up to date superior cut, and they have the old, out of date, inferior cut diamonds. When people first started using the term, the diamonds they referred to may or may not have been old, and may or may not have been European. The term never had a standard definition, or even any definition, and no commonly understood meaning. It neither accurately describes the diamonds it is meant to refer to, nor does it fit any standard approach to diamond cut nomenclature. It has no historical or other factual basis. It does no justice to the actual diamonds. But that’s what most people call them, and that’s why I also use the term when offering them for sale. I also call them early round brilliants or early style round brilliants. Because that’s what they are.
BTW, pretty much the same goes for the term “old mine cut”, except that an old mine has a cushion outline, not a round outline. AKA Antique cushion brilliant, early cushion brilliant, early style cushion brilliant etc. . .
The images below should give you a general idea of what these cuts look like, which is really all that matters. :)
Photo of an old European cut or early round brilliant cut diamond:
Photo of a more current style round brilliant: