What Are The Classic Gemstone Cuts and Shapes?  Pt 1

With so many different varieties of natural gemstones (Walter Schumann’s Gemstones of the World lists around 200), how many different shapes and styles of faceted gems are there?

What is a Princess Cut?

Is an Emerald Cut only used for emeralds?

While there are numerous variations jewelers can use when cutting and faceting a gemstone, there are 15 cuts that are considered “classic” that we will look at in this blog series.  They are:

  1. Round (Round Brilliant)

  2. Pear (Drop)

  3. Oval

  4. Princess Cut

  5. Square

  6. Octagon

  7. Emerald Cut

  8. Marquise (Navette)

  9. Trilliant

  10. Briolette

  11. Cabochon

  12. Baguette

  13. Tapered Baguette

  14. Antique Cushion

  15. Heart Shape

Each cut is unique in its style and brilliance, with numerous flat polished faces reflecting color, light and shine.  Since we’re talking about brilliance, let’s start with the first cut on our list.

round brilliant cut diamondRound (Round Brilliant)

This cut is most closely associated with diamonds and is, in fact, the most popular diamond cut.

It’s very easy to not realize how much of a gem quality stone is lost in the faceting process.  Diamonds lose a lot of weight during the cutting and polishing process…in fact, a rough diamond usually loses at least half of its weight, which means the cut stone is about half the size when it was rough.

The development of the round brilliant cut happened in 1919 and is credited to a man named Marcel Tolkowsky, a Polish diamond cutter who studied at the University of London and created what is considered the benchmark for diamond cutting.

The next time you look at that piece of diamond jewelry you have with this particular cut, think about the time and still it took to put 58 facets on that gem.  33 of those facets are on the top half of the stone, with each facet specifically placed with the path of a light ray in mind.

The resulting appearance is what leads to the term brilliant.  The shape…well, that’s why it’s called round. One phenomenon that occurs when the facets are precise (when the top facet is perpendicular to the bottom of the stone and the other facets have excellent or perfect symmetry) is known as “hearts and arrows.”  While these perfect cuts don’t necessarily result in the most brilliance, they do result in light patterns that look like either hearts or arrows.

To find out more about round and other fascinating facets, check out our next blog post, stop by and see us or contact us here.