Selecting Shapes and Cuts

Choosing your rin: a quick guide to selecting shapes and cuts.

Rough diamondIn their natural rough form, gemstones are usually rough and unattractive. Even the prettiest of the natural rough gemstones fall short of our expectations.

Cutting: why cut a gemstone?

The difference in the transition to a gemstone we can admire is in the cutting.

The techniques used to turn a raw gemstone into something more attractive and useful is called lapidary. Although some of the more amorphous stones such as turquoise respond well to simple polishing, most of the gemstones must be cut.

Most gemstones have a strong, rigid crystalline structure and are too hard and brittle to be shaped in any other way.

Cutting: the basics

The principle behind cutting gemstones is based on the way the molecules of stones are stacked or layered. Striking the stone along a line between crystal layers will cause a section of the stone to break away easily and cleanly.

Some stones, like mica and quartz, are cut easily due to the weaker bond between the crystalline layers. Others require special tools and skills to produce the different gemstone cuts.

Some gemstones with simple crystalline structures can only be cut in one or a few directions. Others, like the diamond, have a complex structure and can be cut several ways on the same stone.

Each cut is called a facet. 

Shapes and cutsThe reason for cutting a gemstone varies from stone to stone. With diamonds, cutting the gemstone produces the brilliance the diamond is famous for. Cutting a gemstone is also necessary to achieve a particular shape or style for a specific piece of jewelry.

There are many types of gem stone cuts in common use today:

checkerboard cut, brilliant cut, emerald cut, round cut, square cut, triangle cut, rose cut, baguette cut, trilliant cut, marquise cut, heart cut, gem stone cut cabochon, octagon cut, cushion cut, oval cut, princess cut, radiant cut and briolette cut.

Which cut and shape to choose?

Buying an engagement ring is an exciting activity. Even when you’ve made the decision to go for a specific type of gemstone, there’s still the question of which cut and shape.

There are many different types of cuts; each cut balances the polished surface areas (facets) to allow the light to bounce off the stone in a way that enhances the overall effect. The amount of sparkle or lustre coming from a gemstone will be determined by the type of cut and the quality of cut – as well as by the clarity of the stone itself.

A jewelry cutter will look at a gemstone and any imperfections it may have and decide on the best way of cutting the stone to get the most out of it.

The 5 main cutting techiques

Each cut gemstone is created by a jeweler using one of 5 main cutting techniques:

Brilliant: primarily used for diamonds

Step: used for colored gemstones and for 4 sided shapes

Mixed: found with oval and pear shapes

Fancy: a combination of cuts designed to eliminate imperfections

Cabochon: no cut facets, but has a dome shape

For more information on selecting shapes and cuts…… 

Gemstone shapes

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