Gemstone Shapes and Cuts Gemstone Shapes and Cuts


The possible combinations of gemstone shapes and cuts are practically endless. Many styles such as the emerald cut and the princess cut have earned their popularity because of their enduring beauty, but there are many other stunning and unique designs into which gemstones can be fashioned. Gems are cut, faceted, and polished to intensify their innate allure by expert gemologists – this task requires artistry and years of practice.

In order for you to recognize the different gemstone cuts and shapes, all you have to do is familiarize yourself with the characteristic traits of different styles. In case you are searching for an engagement ring or other custom jewelry, you need to be able to recognize different cuts and shapes so that you can choose the best option in the world of jewelry.

Styles of Cutting a Gemstone

Styles of Cutting a Gemstone Styles of Cutting a Gemstone

Most of the cut gemstones you will find will either be non-faceted or faceted. In today’s times, most of the sparkly gemstones that are commonly used in jewelry are faceted so that they reflect most of the light. Non-faceted gemstones can either be rough (like in the case of raw crystal) or smooth (like in the case of cabochons). Cutting gemstones into the shapes desired by the jeweler is considered to be an ancient practice, however, if you look at the historical records, you will find that faceting did not begin until the 15th century.

The gemstone cutting style of diamonds is different from most colored gemstones. Why? Because these two different types of gems are valued for altogether different characteristic traits. Gem cutters or lapidaries have to first assess each unique stone (such as ruby, sapphire, diamond, emerald, amethyst, etc.) to determine the best practice for cutting that particular stone. In the case of most colored gemstones, they retain their color intensity even after the cutting process has been completed, however, retaining color is not generally the goal for diamonds.

Faceted Gemstones

Faceted Gemstones Faceted Gemstones

Facets are nothing but angled, flat planes cut into transparent stones to enhance their beauty and clarity. Faceted gemstones reflect the light from their surface of all different facets, which provides additional sparkle and scintillation. The flat surface on the crown of the gemstone, which is also known as the table, is the most prominent and largest facet. Star facets tend to surround the table, while the break facets encircle the section in the middle. And, pavilion facets are created at the bottom half of the gemstone. Each type of facet tends to reflect light in a different direction, which is why faceted gemstones look so alluring.

The different parts of faceted gemstones are the table, the pavilion, the girdle, and the crown. As mentioned above, the table is the top and largest facet of the gem. The pavilion is the part that is mounted into a jewelry setting when the stone is set onto the jewelry, which is also the bottom half of the gem. The midsection of the gem is the girdle and the top section of the gem is the crown.

Why are Gemstones Faceted?

The reason why most transparent gemstones are faceted is to increase their clarity and brilliance. Among all the different types of cuts, the round brilliant cuts sparkle the most because of the arrangement of their facets. Lastly, facets reflecting light off a gemstone are not their only function. They also make the gemstones a piece of art by turning them into something with interesting and complex patterns.

Cabochon Cut

It's not necessary for every gemstone to be faceted so as to look beautiful. The second option for gemstones is to get cut in cabochons. In the case of cabochon gemstones, they are cut in a domed shape with a smooth surface and absence of any facets. Generally, translucent and opaque gemstones are cut and polished in cabochon cuts to show off their beauty and unique features like asterism (like in the case of rose quartz, crystal quartz, etc.), play-of-colors (like in the case of opal), and adularescence (like in the case of moonstone and labradorite).

These unique features like asterism, adularescence, and play-of-colors would get diminished if a layer of facets was added to the gemstone. Also, in the case of softer gemstones like moonstone and opal, cabochons are considered to be the best option. Soft gems tend to get damaged easily in the faceting process.

Gemstone Shape vs Cut

Gemstone Shape vs Cut Gemstone Shape vs Cut

If you look at a gemstone style, you will find that it has both elements – the shape and the cut. What is a gemstone shape? It is the outline of the stone which can include any geometric figure, like round, pear, heart, etc. And it is different from gemstone cut. A gemstone cut is characterized by the style, number, and arrangement of facets in that particular gemstone. You will find many gemstones named for their combination of shape and cut. For instance, the princess cut is characterized by a square shape with a brilliant facet structure and sharp corners, with around 50 facets and chevron patterns.

Some of The Different Gemstone Shapes

Gemstone Shapes Some of the Different Gemstone Shapes

    • Heart: The heart shape is basically a pear shape along with two scallops on its top.
    • Round: When it comes to diamond rings, a round shape is the shape in the most demand.
    • Pear: Pear shape is the shape of a teardrop, which is why it is also called teardrop shape.
    • Oval: The oval shape is very similar to the round shape, with only one difference – it consists of a bowtie reflection in the center.
    • Square: A square shape is basically a square from the top with sharp and beveled corners.
    • Rectangle: A rectangle shape is basically a rectangle from the top with sharp and beveled corners.
    • Marquise: Marquise shape is a shape generally used in the case of diamonds to give the stone an elliptical shape and pointed ends, resulting in the stone having a large surface area.
    • Octagon: It is a rectangular or square gemstone with round edges.
    • Trillion: Also known as the Trillian, Trilliant, or Trielle shape, it is a triangular gemstone cut, having multiple variations with curved and uncurved sides. In Trillion shape, the size of the table at the top of the gemstone also varies, depending on jewelry to jewelry.

Gemstone Cuts

Unique gemstone cuts are created by lapidaries on a regular basis. Also, technology has given us many modern cuts from which we can choose the particular cut that suits us the most. Antique gem cuts and gem cuts in the older times were created when most of the process of cutting was conducted via hand, and many are still used to date because they remain popular favorites. Let us discuss some of the different gemstone cuts – both modern and antique.

Brilliant Cut

The most popular cut for diamonds, which is also the most sparkly, is the brilliant cut. Although it can be applied to any shape, the round brilliant cut is the most desirable. Regardless of the shape, it is named “brilliant” because of the distinctive radiance achieved in the diamond using mathematical precision.

Princess Cut

The princess cut, technically known as square modified brilliant cut, is a diamond cut with a modern, square spin on the classic round brilliant. It is considered to be the second most popular cut after the round brilliant cut and is often used in engagement rings. In this cut, the gemstone is cut in a square with rounded corners, and in comparison to the rounded stone, it utilizes more of the gemstone. You might feel that the princess cut has a slight resemblance to the cushion cut, but both are different – the princess cut is sharp and angular, whereas the cushion cut is soft.

Cushion Cut

The cushion cut, which is also known as the Old European cut, is a classic cut with a square having beveled corners, giving it a soft, vintage appearance. This particular cut came into existence before the advent of faceting machines, resulting in larger facets, which is perhaps why it is not as reflective as some modern cuts. A slight variation in the cushion cut is the elongated cushion cut, which has a more rectangular style.

Emerald Cut

Have you ever seen the rectangular step cut only with a few facets? Well, you saw the emerald cut. (For those who do not know what is a step cut: A step-cut gemstone has a narrower table, descending in the form of layered steps, towards a wider pavilion.) This cut has been named so because of its unique ability to emphasize the color of the stone. This cut is generally preferred for emeralds. Due to emeralds' natural inclusions, a step cut with fewer facets is preferred so as to prevent its breakage.

Rose Cut

The cut that has remained people’s favorite since the 16th century is the rose cut. Since it includes only 3 to 24 facets, its beauty is more subtle and less flashy as compared to the brilliant cut. Rose cuts generally tend to be flat with slightly rounded or circular pavilions. With two layers of facets unfolding like petals from the table, this cut resembles a rose. Various patterns of facets are possible in a rose cut, which results in different styles such as double rose cut, half-dutch rose cut, or recoup rose cut. As the name indicates, a double rose cut has two layers of facets (resulting in more luster) whereas a single rose cut has only one layer of facets.

Briolette Cut

Briolette cut is a Victorian-style cut. It has facets all over, similar to a disco ball, but in the shape of a teardrop. The Briolette cut has a hole drilled at the top of the gemstone so that the hole can be used for pendants and earrings. In this particular cut, you can admire the many facets from all sides. The Briolette cut is often used in the case of dangle earrings and pendants because of its unique shape.

Trilliant Cut

The Trillion Cut or Trilliant Cut is a triangular cut which is most frequently used in accent stones. The Trilliant cut is convex or slightly curved on the sides when it is used in solitaire stone because it gives the stone a softer appearance.

Radiant Cut

The most dazzling step cut is the radiant cut. It is similar to the princess cut because it’s a square with cropped corners, however, it does also include stepped facets. The unique combination of brilliant and step cut provides the gemstone luster as well as depth of color – both, at the same time.

Baguette Cut

The Baguette Cut is a type of step cut. It has even fewer facets than the emerald cut. It looks rectangular and slender, like a French baguette. The small and narrow frame in the Baguette Cut makes it perfect for gemstones which are to be used as accent stones. The sides can be tapered or straight, making the gemstones having baguette cut easy to stack side-by-side.

Checkerboard Cut

The Checkerboard Cut is a unique cut in which the gemstone is covered in square-shaped facets that give it the appearance of a checkerboard. Possessing a wide surface area of facets, the Checkerboard Cut can enhance the luster of opaque gems. Although you can apply the Checkerboard cut on any gemstone shape, it has the best effects on square shapes, cushion cut to be in particular.

Scissor Cut

The facets of a gemstone possessing a Scissor cut to look like crisscrossed blades of scissors, just as the name suggests. This particular style is a sub-category of step cut, however, it is considered to be more reflective than Emerald cut or Asscher cut due to the faceted pattern it has. The Scissor cut turns the darker gems to appear deeper and bolder, along with a little extra shimmer.

Portuguese Cut

The Portuguese Cut is the most intricate and time-consuming cut to create. But the multi-layered facet pattern in Portuguese Cut looks fascinating, making this cut worth the wait. This particular cut has five rows of facets – three below the crown and two above the crown. Because of the presence of an extra layer in the crown, the gemstone has extra scintillation. The Portuguese Cut rivals the round brilliant cut when it comes to the sparkle, but it's much more difficult to create, and it's hard to even find this cut in the market.


We hope that you liked this article which has the description of different types of shapes and cuts in which you can find gemstone jewelry. At the beginning of the whole process, it is the gem cutter or lapidary who decides how to transform the raw mineral into a shimmering gemstone, based on the characteristics of that mineral. From now on, you can be clear when it comes to the difference between gemstone shape and gemstone cut. Also, now you can make out which cut is which, just by looking at the jewel.

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