Have you ever wondered why some stones are cut into complex geometric shapes and others are smooth and round? Believe it or not, it’s not just a matter of preference (although that’s certainly part of it.) Different stones have different qualities, and different cuts help to highlight those qualities. As a jewelry designer, part of my job is to help you identify the style you like best while also sharing information about what constitutes a well-made piece of jewelry. There is a ton that could be said about all the different stone cuts and what sets them apart, but first I want to break down the two main categories: faceted and cabochon. Both are beautiful in their own right, and I love using both in my jewelry!
Faceted stones are pointed at the bottom and have many flat sides on top. Just about any diamond ring you can imagine will have a faceted stone. There are tons of different styles of faceted cuts, many of which you’ve probably heard of, such as princess, cushion, oval, brilliant, and round cut. They’re all designed to maximize light and sparkle in different ways. A perfectly cut diamond will reflect as much light as possible, making the stone glitter like a star.
Because the intention is to reflect light, faceted cuts are popular with transparent stones. In addition to diamonds, it’s common to cut sapphires, rubies, and emeralds this way, among many others. These stones are often (but not always) set in prongs, both to show off as much of the stone as possible and to allow more access to light.
Faceted cuts are considered the standard for fine jewelry, particularly engagement rings. For example, I use faceted stones on all my bridal designs. Faceted stones are classic, elegant, and beautiful.
A single flower blooms under a night sky strewn with a thousand brilliant stars. Swaying in a gentle breeze, it seems to marvel at every constellation and witness every comet fall. The cosmos is alive with endless magic, exhilaration, and romance. A stunning oval sapphire rests in a four-prong setting atop a textured, asymmetrical ripple band graced with six hearts-and-arrows diamonds. This ring will take your breath away.
A cascade of stars fills a velvet sky, but one brilliant light twinkles brightest of all. The Twinkle in the Sky ring displays a stunning emerald cut amethyst in a four prong elevated setting, accented by an asymmetric array of three diamonds on each side, evoking a sky filled with radiant stars. Part of my new Graceful Glimmer Collection, this 18K yellow gold band boasts texture and asymmetric yet harmonious ripples that flow from the center in tapered waves.
This custom redesign demonstrates how it’s still possible to enhance the drama and brilliance of a stunning faceted diamond in a bezel setting. This client honored the transitions in her life by re-setting her gorgeous diamond into an eye-catching two-toned statement piece comfortable enough to be worn every day.
This super-sweet 25th anniversary gift features a beautiful faceted blue sapphire in a two-toned bezel setting. The addition of the yellow gold bezels on the white gold band really really allow the deep blue to pop, creating a vibrant and colorful piece. This ring truly made my heart so happy!
Cabochon cuts are flat along the bottom and come in all shapes and sizes: oval, round, square, or even totally freeform. They are usually either smooth at the top or rosecut. Rosecuts have facets at the top, so they do reflect some light as well. (Rosecuts are a great option for a middle-ground between a faceted and cab stone.)
Generally, cabochons are ideal for opaque stones, where the emphasis is on the intensity of the color rather than the sparkle. Turquoise is a prime example of a stone that is often cut into smooth cabochons. Those stunning blue-greens are best served by a smooth cut that catches the eye.
Cabs are usually (but again not always) set in bezels, which are settings that go all the way around the stone to hold it in place. Bezel settings are excellent for everyday wear because they won’t catch on anything or break, like sometimes happens with prongs. You can wear your ring comfortably and be confident that you will never lose your stone.
I love cabochons because I’m all about bright pops of color and organic shapes. When I select cabs to use in my jewelry, I like to pick one-of-a-kind stones in unusual shapes. These require that I craft individual settings for each one, which is why I haven’t had many cabochon rings available on my site. But all that’s about to change!
Coming Soon…. The Kristen Baird® Collaborative Experience
The Kristen Baird® Collaborative Experience will allow you to create a completely unique custom cabochon ring right on my website! The concept is based on my popular Seafoam Splendor commission piece, but you can build your own design by selecting your favorite stone, band, and metal. That’s all I’m going to say about it for now, but stay tuned for more exciting updates!