Popular Gemstone Cuts
The stunning and sparkling gems are not obtained the way we see them in a jeweller's store or our gemstone jewellery. Natural gemstones are uneven, rough, shapeless and dull. They are cut, resized and polished into various shapes to enhance their colour as well as brilliance and to make them perfect for jewellery.
Cutting of gemstones is a long process of turning rough, unpolished stones into valuable gems. People who do this need to have at least two years of experience in gem cutting to be considered professionals. It takes various factors to decide which cut would work best for a given rough stone to hide its imperfections best and to bring out its best qualities. Natural gems come in a variety of shapes - round, pear, square, octagon, oval, heart, and triangular, and many others. Each shape can be crafted into various cuts, as per the jeweller's choice of exposing the gem's facets. Gemstone cuts differ in the size and quantity of facets carved into the stone's surface within each category of shapes. Below is a list of some popular gemstones cuts that are considered to pass on the best value of a precious gem.
Alternatively known as the "Square Emerald cut", this vintage cut is a hybrid of a princess and an emerald cut. A distinct X characterizes an asscher cut in the gemstone's table, cropped corners featured along its four sides and step-cut facets to maximize the gem's clarity.
Asscher cut was introduced in 1902 by the Asscher brothers of Holland, and it remained popular through the 1920s. It displays the "hall of mirrors" effect like the emerald cut and is more likely to show inclusions than other fancy gem cuts. It is also expected to show colour in white diamonds. Its bevelled corners often make the stone appear octagonal when unmounted and when set in jewellery, the stone seems square.
Baguette cut is long and rectangular and is a popular choice for accent stones in jewellery. Crafted in a "step cut" way, the 14 facets of this cut are put in steps along the edges, resembling a pyramid without a top. Although, not the same fire and brilliance as a round cut, this cut maximizes the clarity of the stones.
Baguette cut was introduced in the 1920-1930s during the Art Deco and Art Nouveau movements. Due to its clean lines and modern, geometric shape, it became instantly popular. Baguette cut stones generally are used in small sizes, often less than a carat. Hence, they are measured according to their dimensions, and not by carat weight. Their unique shape allows the baguette cut stones to be set side by side without any gaps, unlike round gems, making them indispensable in modern jewellery.
A cabochon cut gem is a gem cut in a convex shape, polished but not faceted. Alternatively known as "cab", a cabochon has a flat bottom and a slightly rounded top. Traditionally, this cut is oval in shape, but in general, any form can be cut into cabochon style.
The name originates from the French word "caboche", meaning head. Gemstones shaped and polished "en cabochon" (indicating "in the manner of a cabochon") date back to early Judaic, Greek and Roman times. Back then for a long time, this was the only gem cut available other than using gemstone in their naturally-found shape. Even though nowadays most jewellers prefer faceted styles for their gems, certain gemstones are still cut "en cabochon" - such as opal, moonstone, rose quartz, agate, turquoise, jade – to name a few.
Cushion (Antique) Cut
The cushion cut has a basic square shape with gently rounded corners (like a couch cushion) that maximizes the raw gem's lustre and brilliance. Once known to be as "Old Mine Cut" or "Old European Cut", this cut features with approximately 64 facets. It is also often called as a "Pillow Cut" because of the softness that the cut invokes.
This vintage style cut has been around for 200 years and has been the industry standard for jewels before the start of 20th century. Some cushion cuts may even appear slightly oval or rectangular in shape. Although any inclusions will be clearly visible through its significant facets, this cut has more fire than other cuts, including the round cut.
The Emerald Cut comes shaped like a rectangle from the top, with trimmed corners and 50 facets where light bounces brightly between the step-cuts. Originally designed to cut emeralds, this cut is achieved to emphasize the clarity and colour of the gem as the colour tends to show vividly with this cut.
In lighter coloured stones, an emerald cut can be quite dazzling with broader and more striking flashes of light. Eventually, this cut became famous for diamonds and other gems as well. Gemstone jewellery lovers were particularly drawn to this unique and fresh style, as its elongated shape looks very flattering on rings.
The heart cut is, in essence, a pear-shaped cut with a cleft at the top and identical round lobes. With 59 standard facets, this cut can offer excellent fire and superb sparkle. Symmetry plays a significant role in selecting the right heart cut gemstone. The two halves of the heart should be perfectly equal, and the cleft should be sharp and distinct while the sides should be slightly rounded.
Heart cut gems look beautiful in larger sizes (half a carat or above) as in small sizes, the shape of the gem won't stand out. Rarely used in wedding rings, heart cut gemstones remain a favourable choice for earrings, pendants, and gemstone solitaire rings.
Also referred to as the 'navette cut', the marquise cut is crafted with 57 facets to reflect back most of the light and offer maximum sparkle as well as colour depth. While crafting this cut, perfect symmetry for the two endpoints is essential to ensure the stone sits appropriately in the setting to minimize future chipping or breakage.
If the gem is cut too shallow, the light will pass through the back of the gemstone, reducing its colour and sparkle. Due to its substantial surface area, a marquise cut offers more weight per carat than any other gem cut and makes the gemstone look larger than it actually is.
Crafted in the shape of a gleaming teardrop, a pear cut in gem offers 71 facets which reflect light beautifully and allow the colour to showcase dramatically. Just like the marquise cut, symmetry is essential in pear cut as well for the integrity of the stone. Pear cut gems require a particular 6-prong setting, with a prong to maintain support for its weak point.
The first pear cut diamond was introduced in 1458 by a Flemish polisher Louis van Berquem of Belgium. Most women prefer pear cut gems on their earrings, pendants and necklaces. The elongated outline of a pear cut ring lengthens and slims its wearer's finger, making it an attractive choice for rings as well.
The second most popular cut right after the Round Brilliant cut, a princess cut is square in shape and has between 58 to 76 facets that bounce light off beautifully, making it a shape with the most sparkle. Also, it is technically known as "Square modified brilliant", as it is a square version of the Round Brilliant cut. The actual features of this cut are best brought out by light, transparent gemstones.
Princess cut was created in 1979 by Ygal Perlman, Betzalel Ambar and Israel Itzkowitz of Israel. But, the princess cut precursor, or the profile cut was introduced by Arpad Nagy of London, in 1961. The princess square cut gem retains almost 80% of the rough gemstone, whereas the round cut gem is only able to keep 50%, making princess cut an excellent choice for customers and gem cutters alike.
The radiant cut in gems is a rectangular cut with bevelled corners that makes gems more brilliant than emerald cuts by hiding inclusions better. In this fancy cut, a square or an octagon gemstone gets its four corners cropped in a straight line, rather than nicely rounding them off like in a Cushion cut. This cut offers the modern square shape to the precious gems without sacrificing its brilliance and fire.
A combination of a princess cut and a cushion cut, this four-sided cut was created by Henry Grossbard in 1977. Like most other step cuts, radiant cuts concentrate colour of the stone very well. Due to this reason, they make an ideal cut for coloured gemstone jewellery
Also known as "Round Brilliant", "American Ideal" or "American Standard", round cut is the reigning most popular cut. Featuring 57 facets, a round cut is the most efficient of all other cuts in capturing a stone's brilliance and sparkle. This antique cut has undergone many years of transformations to manipulate the facets for optimizing the dispersion of light in a gemstone.
Some of the most noteworthy round cuts include "Old Single Cut", "Rounded Single Cut", "Old European Cut, "Jubilee Cut", "Royal Cut", and "Basic Brilliant Cut" or the "Ideal Cut", or the famous "Tolkowsky Cut". Originally created exclusively for diamonds, the round brilliant cut is now widely used for all types of precious gemstones.
Trillion / Trilliant Cut
Trilliant cut gems are triangular in shape with edges sometimes slightly rounded or cropped straight in triangular step cuts along its three sides. The curved variation is often used for solitaire stones, known as Trillion, while the non-curved variety, called Trilliant, is better suited for side stones.
The Trilliant cut comes with 31 to 43 sparkly facets known to maximize the stone's brilliance and colour. Symmetry, angles, and proportions are crucial for the proper dispersing of light in this unique shape. A trilliant cut gem will require a specialized setting when set as a solitaire, to protect its delicate corners. Moreover, as they are cut shallow, they also tend to appear larger than their weight implies and require extra cleaning.