Gem Cut – Facets of Shape, Sparkle & Shine

Gem cuts not only define the shape of a stone , but determines whether it sparkles and shines or looks dead. The cut of a gem is often the first consideration in choosing the proper setting for the stone.

Gem cutting can create cabochons (smooth rounded gems), beads (spheres), inlays, mosaics, and cameos from fine stones. However, the most common method used in fashioning hard, transparent stones like diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires is the facet gem cut.

Facets – Gem Cuts That Thrive in light

brilliant cut diamond

The faceted gem cut gives the stone maximum light exposure and refraction (“bounce back”) as if the stone inhales the brilliance of the light and exhales in fiery sparkles and rainbows of color.

Although the number of facets on a single stone can range from 14 (the rectangular baguette) to 76 (the princess cut), the 58-facet symmetrical gem cut continues to be the benchmark by which all other facet cuts are measured, resulting in a perfectly round stone that optimizes the balance between “fire” and color.

The techniques of facet gem cutting result in dozens of traditional, contemporary stone shapes, and variations that nearly put faceted stones in a class of their own! In addition to the round cut, the most popular traditional shapes among faceted gem cuts are:

Marquise

brilliant cut gemstones

Although this cut can be used for other transparent stones like sapphires, this popular 58-facet gem cut shapes a diamond into “diamond” shape.

When choosing a Marquise, take care to look for sharp edges and pointed ends that increase the risk of damage to the stone. Also long narrow stones are more likely to break. A length to width ratio of 1.5 is often considered ideal.

Emerald

emerald cut gemstones

The number of facets in an emerald cut may vary from 50 to 58. This gem cut typically results in a rectangular shaped stone with beveled corners and a smooth, flat crown.

The emerald cut was perfected on its namesake, intending to intensify the stone’s color. Emerald cuts have less sparkle than other facet gem cuts, making imperfections more visible.

Yet, the emerald gem cut remains an excellent way to emphasize both the clarity and color of stones with minimal imperfections.

Pear

brilliant pear cut gemstones

The 58-facet pear gem cut is the perfect match for the half-bezel setting. The half-bezel cradles the blossom end of the stone and loops a band of precious metal securely over the stem of the stone.

Pear cuts with stem ends set into bezels are also often seen swinging as pendants on necklaces and dangling earrings.

Oval

brilliant oval cut gemstones

An oval gem cut is distinctive in that its facets are most often an odd number, ranging from 43 to 57. The lack of symmetry elongates the sparkle of oval gem cuts, which adds a “big look” to smaller stones.

Oval cuts can be especially appealing when mounted on rings. The oval shape tends to make fingers appear longer. Women, especially, who have short fingers tend to like oval cuts.

Due to crystal characteristics, a number of colored gems cut best innto ovals. Corundum (sapphires & rubies) is one example;

Princess

This symmetrical gem cut produces a rectangular or square-shaped gemstone of 76 facets. However, don’t be fooled by the numbers. Because of the many facets in a princess cut, the crown of the stone is usually very thin. Likewise, the square cut yields heavier finished stones per size of rough. Although brilliant light may be displayed, spectral colors are seldom seen.

Creative Lapidary

Modern techniques in lapidary have produced numerous other shapes ranging in number of facets from 14 to 76 with a variety of shapes that include hearts, stars, and sunflowers.

Today, the ability to display the brilliance and beauty of a stone through facet gem cuts is limited only by the imagination of the gem cutter!

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