A complete guide to stone cuts
In jewelry, there are about 250 types of cut. They depend not only on the taste preferences of the jewelers, but also on the physical and optical characteristics of the stones. During the cutting process, it is important to preserve the mass of the stone and its natural values. Cut can be divided into three large groups: smooth, faceted and mixed.
Although formally referred to as a cut, it is essentially a polishing. The stone processed in this way has no edges, only a polished surface.
Cabochon (from the French caboche – “head” or “nail with a wide and round head”) is the most famous type of smooth cut. The cabochon is considered one of the first and therefore the oldest cuts. Polished stone usually has a flat bottom and a smooth, convex dome. Most often it is made in the form of a circle or an oval, although there are other shapes: rectangle, rhombus, heart, drop, boat, crescent.
Cabochon cut is used for opaque and translucent stones, as well as for stones with various optical effects (asterism, iridescence, opalescence, cat’s eye). This is how jade, turquoise, amber, malachite, lapis lazuli, serpentine, onyx, opal, tugtupite, sometimes sapphires, rubies and other stones are processed. This method of cutting is not very difficult, and the quality of the starting material does not play a big role.
Different types of cabochons are used for different tasks and stones. Opaque stones with a colored surface are cut into a single cabochon with a flat base and a convex top. For stones with internal defects, the shape of a double (lenticular) cabochon is suitable, in which both sides are convex. Dark stones are often cut into hollow cabochons with a concave base. There is also a tall cabochon with a very convex top and flat, like a congealed drop of candle wax.
The ball is another smooth cut. Thus, semiprecious and ornamental stones are processed: aventurine, agate, amethyst, quartz, malachite, onyx, jasper.
The most varied type of cut is facet or facet (from the French facette – “facet”). As the name suggests, this treatment creates many facets on the surface of the stone. Faceted cut is used when working with transparent stones: it brings out their shine, enhances color and emphasizes light effects.
To understand the features of different faceted cut options, you need to understand the anatomy of the cut stone.
The upper and lower parts of the stone are separated by a thin belt – girdle. Usually the frame is fixed on it. The upper part, located above the girdle, is called the crown. There is a platform on it – the flat top facet, the largest facet of the stone. The lower part, located under the girdle, is called the pavilion. And the convergence point of the pavilion’s edges at the very bottom is a culet, it can be in the form of a thorn, a small horizontal edge or a line.
Faceted cut is divided into two types: classic or round brilliant cut, and fancy cut.
Faceted: round brilliant
Round brilliant cut is the most common form of cutting diamonds and other transparent stones with strong light dispersion.
The pioneers of the round shape are the Americans Henry Morse and Charles Field, who in the 1870s created a steam engine for cutting diamonds.
The round cut best demonstrates the brilliance and play of light in the stone and minimizes the risk of external damage. A diamond shines brightest if the exact proportions of the pavilion’s edges are observed – they provide full internal reflection of light. The main disadvantage of the round cut is the significant weight loss of the nugget: after processing, up to 60% of the original weight can go away.
A classic or full brilliant cut has 57 facets. There are 33 facets on the crown, and 24 facets on the pavilion. First of all, this cut is used for large diamonds with a mass of 1 carat or more. Proportion, symmetry and surface finish play a major role here. The “ideal diamond” is considered to be the standard of classical cutting, the parameters of which were calculated in 1919 by the mathematician Marcel Tolkovsky.
The simplified brilliant cut has 33 or 17 facets. It is used when processing small and medium stones: 33 facets – for stones weighing up to 0.99 carats, 17 facets – for “diamond chips” weighing up to 0.29 carats. This is how diamonds, rhodolites, amethysts, sapphires, rubies, chrysolites, topazes and many other stones are processed.
Round cuts with more than 57 facets are called diamond modifications. These are, for example, the Belgian Highlight (73 facets), developed in New York by King (86 facets) and Magna (102 facets) or the Royal Cut (154 facets).
Faceted: fancy. Stepped varieties
With this cut, the edges are parallel and one above the other, like steps. The wide upper platform is made in the form of a polygon, and the side faces are in the form of trapeziums or isosceles triangles.
The stepped cut does not cause a brilliant shine, but emphasizes the color of the stone. Therefore, it is used for transparent stones of “medium color tones”: a high cut enhances the color, a low cut weakens it.
The table cut is one of the simplest step cuts. Usually it is a flat stone with a large area: the crown has five faces, the pavilion has four. A variation can be considered the Mirror cut with a very large area and a shallow pavilion. The table is mainly used for semi-precious and ornamental stones, which are often used in signet rings.
Baguette – an elongated version of the Table, cut in the shape of a rectangle. Shapes such as Trapezium and Square (Square) are often referred to as Baguette varieties.
The modern version of this cut appeared in the early 20th century. Its name comes from fr. bague – until the 17th century, this word meant precious stones in general. Baguette has 14 sides, 24-sided versions are also found. Technically, it is quite simple, but due to the openness of the edges, it requires a high purity of the stone. Basically, small side stones in jewelry are cut this way: diamonds, rubies, emeralds, topaz.
Other quadrangles – Rhombus, Kite, Epaulette, Barrel – are considered to be varieties of Baguette. They differ in the slope of the corners and the curvature of the sides. Pentahedron and Hexahedron are also distinguished as independent forms.
Emerald (Emerald) or Octagon – step cut with an octagonal shape of the stone. It consists of 58 or 65 faces and looks like a Baguette, but the corners are not sharp, but beveled.
The modern standards of Emerald were adopted in the 1940s – initially this cut was intended specifically for emeralds, but over time, sapphires, tourmalines, beryls, and other stones began to be cut this way. Here, too, high purity and transparency of the stone is required, otherwise the imperfections will be noticeable to the naked eye. But the light that hits the surface is reflected in wide and bright flashes. In terms of cost and complexity, this is one of the most affordable cuts.
Asher is an octagonal cut, which is made in the shape of a square and is similar in characteristics to an Emerald. It was developed in 1902 by the famous Dutch jeweler Joseph Asher, but it gained popularity only in the 1920s. The original version has 58 faces, and its modification, Royal Asher, has 74 faces.
Faceted: fancy. Wedge varieties
Wedge cuts are often considered variations of the round brilliant cut. In this case, many facets are applied to the surface in the form of wedges, which reveal the color of the stone well and enliven the play of light in it.
Oval – this cut compares favorably with a round cut by maintaining the weight of the stone. It was created in the 1960s by the jeweler Lazar Kaplan. Oval cut stones usually have 57 facets, although the number may vary. The elongated shape allows you to create the illusion of a larger stone, it looks especially advantageous in rings. The oval cut is used mainly for large transparent stones – aquamarines, amethysts, sapphires, topaz.
The Marquis (Marquise) is an oval with pointed ends, like a boat. This cut was created in France in the middle of the 18th century, and according to legend, it was dedicated to the smile of the Marquise de Pompadour. The marquis also has 57 facets and is distinguished by a slight loss of weight of the nugget: if the initially oblong stone, it is possible to save up to 80%. This is how diamonds, amethysts, emeralds, rubies are cut. A variation of the Marquis is considered to be the Shuttle cut – it already has an upper platform and slightly fewer edges.
Pear – this cut visually resembles a drop: one end of it is rounded, the other is pointed. It is sometimes considered a hybrid of a round brilliant cut and a marquise. A smooth platform is also made in the form of a drop, there are usually 57 wedges. Such a stone should have clear symmetry at the point of narrowing, since it is there that the play of light is concentrated.
In the shape of a pear, aquamarines, amethysts, topazes are cut. The Pandelok cut is a variant of the Pear, only its pavilion is deeper and more rounded.
Briolette, Drop, Olive (Olive) – varieties of an elongated teardrop shape. Unlike Pears, they have no platform or girdle. The surfaces of the Briolette and Olive are completely wedged, only the shape of the Olive resembles an ellipse with cut ends. At the Drop, the narrow upper part is formed by long edges elongated downward, and the rounded lower part is formed by small wedges. Stones cut in this way are mainly used as pendants.
Elongated cuts Oval, Marquis, Grusha, when proportions and symmetry are violated, may exhibit the optical effect of a “bow tie”: a dark spot in the center of the site.
Princess is a rectangular wedge cut, the second most popular for diamonds. It was created in the 1980s by the jeweler Bezalel Ambar – he branded the original version with 49 facets under the name Quadrillion. The princess has square outlines and sharp corners, and the deep pavilion, where the play of light is concentrated, ends in a thorn. 58 facets create a brilliance that is not inferior to round diamonds, but at the same time after cutting, about 80% of the stone is preserved.
Flanders is a modification of the Princess with 61 facets. It was also invented in the 1980s, named after the Belgian region of Flanders. It features cut corners and very complex symmetry, so the cutting process takes three times as long as creating a round diamond.
Antique or Cushion (Pillow) – this cut has existed for more than a hundred years and at one time was almost as popular as the round brilliant cut today. The shape of the Cushion (English cushion) really resembles a pillow. The stone has rounded corners, 72 faces, it can be square or slightly elongated. This is how diamonds, amethysts, sapphires, emeralds, rubies, quartz and its varieties are cut. By the way, another name – Antik – cut received in recognition of its historical roots: its predecessor is considered the Old Mine Cut of the 18th century.
Triamond (Trillian, Trillion) is a triangular wedge cut that was created by the Asher brothers in the early 20th century. The corners of the stone can be sharp, beveled or rounded, some options have a pronounced triangular area, some do not. The classic Trilliant has 43 faces, but modern versions can have 50 or more faces. This cut is well suited for light stones: diamond, aquamarine, beryl, white sapphire. Some jewelers use it to brighten dark stones – tanzanite, amethyst, rhodolite. The Shield and Troidia cuts, in which the sides are slightly curved outward, can be considered Trilliant varieties.
The heart is one of the most complex and expensive wedge-cut shapes. It is often used in exclusive jewelry. In principle, it resembles a Pear, but splits from the rounded side, taking the shape of a heart. The stone is usually of equal length and width, consists of 59 facets – their number may vary depending on the original size of the stone. This is how rubies, amethysts, topazes, garnets, and sometimes colored diamonds are cut.
Ball or Sphere is a rather rare type of wedge cut, which has 120 or more facets. Despite the fact that the stone cut in this way will not sparkle very brightly, the cutting itself is extremely time consuming and requires high skill.
Also worth noting is the collection of polygonal “flower” cuts (Fire Rose, Sunflower, Dahlia, Calendula, Zinnia), which were created by the famous jeweler Gabi Tolkovsky, nephew of the creator of the “perfect diamond”. They are specially designed for rough diamonds over 0.25 carats and are based on unusual angles. Russian experts have developed the Happy decagonal cut, which has 81 facets. Visually, it is very similar to a round brilliant, but, like many other fancy options, it differs in less weight loss of the stone.
Mixed cut combines smooth and faceted, wedge and stepped cut in different combinations. For example, on one side the stone has edges, but on the other it remains smooth – flat or rounded. Sometimes the cut is mixed on the same half of the stone. When processing, the optical properties of stones of different colors are taken into account: such cutting parameters as, for example, the height of the pavilion depend on this.
The outdated Rose cut can also be attributed to the mixed type: it has a flat base, there is no girdle or pavilion. In fact, it is a cabochon, the convex part of which is cut with wedges. The first rose appeared in the 16th century, initially it had no more than six faces. Over the century, their number has increased, the placement on the crown has changed, as well as the height of the crown itself. The edges were not always symmetrical; rather irregular outlines were more common. The most famous varieties of the Rose:
French cuts are also considered mixed. It appeared in the early 1400s, but came into fashion only two centuries later. Its platform and girdle are square, the crown is cut with triangular wedges that form a diagonal cross, and the pavilion can be stepped. Its contours combined with 21 facets ensure high light output.
Barion is a cut introduced by jeweler Basile Watermeyer in 1971 and named after himself and his wife Marion. One of the options has a square shape with slightly curved sides, 62 facets and combines a stepped crown with a diamond pavilion. The Barion cut has two features: the facets on the girdle are made in the shape of a crescent, and the four facets of the pavilion, when viewed from above, through the platform, form a cross.
The radiant is also a combination of stepped and brilliant cut. It was developed in 1977 by Henry Grossbard. The stone has a rectangular or square shape, an octagonal outline, cut corners and 70 facets. The name speaks for itself – radiant means “radiant, radiant”. Combining the best features of the two cuts, it enhances the color of the colored stones and the radiance of the colorless ones.
In this text, we have tried to summarize and build into a single logic the most common classifications of stones. The result is a complete guide to cuts.