Rose Cut Diamonds: A Quick Guide to this Unique & Timeless Classic Cut
Rose cut diamonds… doesn’t the name just make you want to stare off into the moors while your linen skirt billows out behind you in the wind?
Or lounge in an elegant ballroom on a steamship bound for New York. Wherever this beautiful diamond design takes you, the rose cut is a thing of soft, elegant, vintage-inspired beauty.
Inspired by the unfurling petals of a young rosebud, this cut is the oldest diamond style that is still being used in jewelry today. This sensual diamond cut predates even other antique-style diamonds such as the old mine cut and the old European cut.
The languid edges and youthful beauty of the rose-cut diamond make it a style that refuses to fade into historical oblivion. Instead, this showstopper raises its head every generation or so to remind jewelry shoppers of what exactly makes it so special.
What is a Rose Cut Diamond?
The rose cut diamond was developed in the 15th century, when gem cutters were just beginning to understand the relationship that diamonds have with light. In its unique shape, we can see hints of what would later become the old mine cut and old European cut, which eventually ushered in the perfect architecture of the modern round brilliant cut.
Much like brilliant-cut diamonds, rose-cut actually refers to a style of cutting rather than one single shape. You can have rose cut round, oval, and even pear-shaped diamonds.
Unlike most other contemporary diamond shapes, the rose cut has no pavilion — that’s the lower half of the diamond that points downward — and no table — that’s the largest facet that sits right on top of most diamonds.
Instead, the facets of the rose cut come right up together, like the innermost petals of a rose. Depending on the complexity of the design, this top part can consist of only three facets or up to 24. On the bottom, the rose cut diamond is completely flat similar to a cabochon cut.
The shape is deceptively simple, trading the dramatic sparkle of a modern round brilliant for a soft, ethereal glow. Because it has no pavilion, the light that enters the diamond doesn’t refract and disperse the way it does in brilliant cut diamonds. Instead of displaying the glittering sparkle of other diamonds, it coaxes out a gentle play of color and shimmering light.
Rose-cut diamonds are the little black dress of the jewelry world: understated, timeless, and effortlessly chic.
What to Look For In a Rose Cut Diamond
When searching for your perfect rose-cut diamond, the first thing to know is that they’ll be graded and priced a bit differently from the classic round brilliant diamonds you see in most jewelry stores. While the classic GIA diamond grading criteria were developed with the standard round brilliant in mind, unique diamond shapes — particularly antique or antique-inspired — are much more subjective and personal. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking at rose cut diamonds.
Rose-cut diamonds were traditionally cut by hand, and by candlelight. As a result, these gems lack the laser-precise perfection of more modern diamonds. They may have uneven or unbalanced facets that are a result of the very human manufacturing process.
Rose cuts do not receive an official cut grade the way round brilliants do. Instead, look for facets that are well-balanced and visually appealing.
If you prefer designs that look like they were made by a real person instead of a machine, the rose cut is perfect for you.
There was a time when rose cuts fell out of fashion and weren’t selling for very much. As a result, many of the high-quality rose cut diamonds on the jewelry market were repurposed into smaller round brilliants that could sell for quite a bit more.
Since most rose cut diamonds we see today are still left from this time, very few are found in very high color grades.
With that said, however, the candlelight-kissed tones of stones in the faint to near-colorless range, or M-J, are a perfect match for this vintage design.
Clarity is where we want to start kicking things up a notch. Much like their step-cut cousins the emerald cut, rose cut diamonds can hide very little in their honest, simplistic facet arrangement. Even the most minute blemishes and inclusions will be more readily visible in this cut than they would in more contemporary cuts.
When shopping for a rose cut diamond, try to get the highest possible clarity grade you can find — no easy task, since many high-quality rose cuts have since been recut into other shapes.
If you’re considering a rose cut diamond with a lower clarity grade, try to view it in person or request detailed photos, or, even better, a plotted diagram from its grading report. This will show you the exact location and type of any inclusions that may be in the diamond, letting you decide how much they will detract from its beauty or how much they might add to its individual charm.
Here we come to one of the greatest things about rose cut diamonds: they’re huge. By which I mean, the lack of a pavilion under the diamond’s surface means that the face-up appearance of a rose cut diamond is much larger than the face-up appearance of another diamond of the same carat weight. You with me? No? Okay, let’s break it down.
A 1-carat standard round brilliant diamond is about 6mm in diameter. A 1-carat rose cut diamond measures about 7.5mm, which visually appears to be almost twice the size. By contrast, a half-carat rose cut diamond is about 6.5mm. This is because all of the rose cut’s carat weight is readily visible, rather than being hidden down below.
Rose cut diamonds are a fantastic budget-friendly choice for people who want a larger stone.
Buying Rose Cut Diamond Jewelry
Now that you’ve found the perfect stone, how do you want to wear it?
Rose cut diamonds are a natural choice for delicate vintage-inspired settings such as filigree and art nouveau styles. Their flat base keeps them close and intimate, so they also pair well with understated, protective settings such as a bezel ring.
Because they carry all their carat weight on top and offer a better value for the size, a solitaire is a good way to show off your soft, feminine diamond. You’ll see that compared to the glittering drama of a round brilliant cut, a rose cut engagement ring gives off an innocent, undone quality that’s unendingly charming.
Cost and Value
A 1-carat rose cut diamond in a simple, contemporary ring setting ranges from around $2000 up to $18,000, depending on the brand and quality factors.
Though modern rose cuts are beginning to make their way into the fine jewelry market, the majority of rose-cut diamond jewelry you’ll see available are going to be vintage or antique pieces. This means that the price of the jewelry item will be affected by a range of other factors including age, condition, and the metal and any other materials used.
Unlike the round brilliant cut which is largely distributed and standardized throughout the retail market, it can be difficult to precisely quantify the value of antique cut diamonds.
Compared to other diamond cuts, rose cuts will usually sell for a little bit less due to their lack of sparkle and the fact that they aren’t as well known — but as with all things in the jewelry industry, their true value depends on the fashions of the day.
There was a time when rose cut diamonds were being sold off very cheaply due to the high demand for new, glittering cuts such as the old mine and later, the round brilliant. However, with the rise of vintage fashion among the younger generations and the rose cut engagement rings spotted on high-profile hands of celebrities like Lily Collins and Jennifer Aniston, this delicate diamond cut is seeing a resurgence. Their prices may start climbing in the near future simply because it’s unique and special.
Pros and Cons of the Rose Cut Diamond
In case you’re still on the fence, let’s do a quick pro/con comparison, shall we?
Pro: They’re low stress.
Because there’s no pavilion on these delicately cut beauties, rose cut diamonds rest very close to the skin. They don’t stick out the way other diamonds do, which means they’re less likely to get knocked on things as you go about your day. A rose cut diamond ring is a great choice for people who are always on the go or who work with their hands.
Pro: They’re big for their carat weight.
As we discussed above, rose cuts are super-efficient when it comes to taking up real estate on your finger. There’s nothing hidden below in the pavilion, so everything you pay for is visible when you look down at the stone. Rose cut diamonds are wider and appear much larger to the eye than other diamond cuts of the same carat weight. They’re a great choice for someone who wants a larger stone for a smaller budget.
Pro: They’re unusual.
When you look at a rose-cut diamond, right away you can tell that it’s something very special. You can almost guarantee that nobody you know is going to have a ring similar to yours. Without being ostentatious, rose cuts are just unusual enough that people will have to look twice and ask you what the story is behind your stunning diamond ring.
Pro: They’re understated.
By staying close to the skin and emitting more glow than glitter, your rose cut diamond engagement ring carries all the subtle elegance of a little black dress. It doesn’t need to look flashy or scream and shout for attention. This diamond is a great choice for someone who prefers classic simplicity over starry-eyed trends.
Con: They’re low sparkle.
Unfortunately, that pavilion half of the diamond is what determines the stone’s “light return”, or how well the light reflects and refracts as it travels around the facets.
The classic round brilliant (as we discovered in our article on understanding diamond cut) is specifically designed to maximize the amount of light that comes back to us and bring out the most beautiful colors possible. The rose cut, by contrast, isn’t made to break up light in this way. You will see a soft, lustrous glow instead of the glittering scintillation of other diamonds.
Con: They show imperfections.
Because they have less facets than brilliant cut diamonds, any inclusions or blemishes will be more readily visible in rose cut diamonds. While brilliant cuts are designed in such a way that inclusions are easily hidden, rose cuts have less to hide behind. For this reason, we recommend prioritizing the clarity grade when shopping for this diamond style.
Con: They’re hard to find.
For that same reason, rose cuts are hard to track down – many jewelry stores don’t even carry them. You may have to source your stone online or keep an eye on vintage and pre-owned jewelry boutiques. When you do find them, the selection will be very small. You won’t have the range of choices when it comes to size, color, and clarity grades the way you would for a round brilliant diamond.
If you have your heart set on a rose cut diamond, give yourself lots of time to find your perfect stone without too much stress. And be open to the possibility of an antique diamond – you are more likely to find antique jewelry with this unique cut than you are to find it in a modern jewelry store.
Con: They lack pizazz.
Subtle elegance may not be for everyone, though. The human eye is biologically inclined to follow light and movement, which is why a sparkling brilliant-cut diamond commands so much attention.
Since rose cut diamonds don’t sparkle, their overall effect might fall a little flat. They’re not the best choice for someone who lives for the ’gram or wants to attract attention every time they lift their hand (hmm, oh this? Oh, it’s just a little thing, yes I know it’s lovely…).
Rose Cut Diamond FAQ
What does the rose cut diamond symbolize?
Modeled after the blossoming petals of a rose, this stone symbolizes youthful innocence. Much like the classic white wedding dress — which originally symbolized an unmarried woman’s, ahem, maidenhood — this stone encapsulates the soft magic and beauty of first love.
What is a double rose cut diamond?
Where most rose cut diamonds are flat on the bottom, like a cabochon, a double rose cut has its unique faceting arrangement on both sides, similar to a briolette. This gives it a little more lift and sparkle while still maintaining the appeal of the rose cut diamond shape.
How should I care for a rose cut diamond?
Due to their low profile, rose cuts are one of the most easy-care diamond shapes available. If you have a particularly active lifestyle you might want to consider a protective setting, such as a bezel, to keep the edges safe. You can gently clean your diamond to remove dust and buildup with a very soft cloth or a baby toothbrush.
Do rose cut diamonds hold their value?
Generally, most diamonds are not an investment quality commodity due to the saturated diamond market and the constantly fluctuating trends. Rose cut diamonds are unusual and steadily growing in popularity, which means that if you think you might want to resell it at a later time your best bet would be to use a direct-to-consumer platform, such as Etsy.
Long Live the Romantic Rose Cut
For a woman who prefers tasteful subtlety over debaucherous decadence and wants to keep the beauty of their love close to the heart, the rose cut diamond is a wonderful choice.
Despite its innocent lines and soft colors, the rose cut has refused to stay down against the torrent of trends throughout diamond history. This style resurfaces again and again, proving that it is a timeless, endearing design that will never truly fall out of fashion.
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