Understanding Stone Cuts

Kristen Baird

Understanding Stone Cuts - Kristen Baird Blog

The cut is one of the most important defining features of a gemstone. Without the cut, we wouldn’t be able to see the sparkle or appreciate the beautiful colors of gems. But with so many different cuts out there, it can be hard to figure out what anyone is talking about. What’s the difference between a princess cut and a cushion cut? How can a sapphire be “emerald cut?” Most importantly, how do you determine the right cut for you? Allow me to break it down for you!

Stone Cut Basics

I’ll be talking about faceted versus cabochon stones in a different blog, but the short version is that cabs are flat on the bottom and rounded at the top. Faceted cuts are pointed at the bottom and have lots of little triangular cuts. In this blog I’m (mostly) going to focus on faceted cuts. When it comes to faceted cuts, the two main things you have to think about are the shape of the face and the style of the facets. The most popular shape is round, but stones can be cut into almost any shape, such as rectangles, ovals, and hearts. Non-round shapes are called “fancy cuts.” I use a lot of fancy cuts in my jewelry because I love the unique design possibilities they bring. For example, my Sweet Songbird ring features a trillion-cut gemstone. (Doesn’t it remind you of a bird soaring through the air, or is that just me?)

Understanding Stone Cuts - Songbird Rings - Kristen Baird Blog

Brilliant, Step, and Mixed Cuts

Okay, shapes are out of the way, so now let's talk facets. (We’re getting into the weeds, but I promise this will all make sense soon!) There are three basic kinds of facets you will find. Brilliant cuts have triangular facets that spread out from the center of the gem. Diamonds and sapphires are typically cut this way, and you see it on most engagement rings. Step cuts are rectangular facets that descend down in steps. The most common version of this is an emerald cut. (More on that later!) Mixed cuts are - you guessed it - a mixture of the two. 

This brings us to the fun part… all those names!

Princess? Emerald? Marquise? Oh My!

Understanding Stone Cuts - Stone Cut Chart - Kristen Baird Blog

All cuts are a combination of a shape and a facet style. Many of the most popular combinations have been given names. Here are some you’ve probably heard of:

  • Brilliant cut - A standard round gem with brilliant-cut facets
  • Princess cut - A square gem with brilliant-cut facets
  • Cushion cut - A princess, but with rounded corners also available elongated as a Rectangular Cushion
  • Oval, rectangle, pear, ect. - Those shapes with brilliant facets
  • Emerald - A rectangular step-cut gem with a flat face. This cut is popular with emeralds, but you can absolutely cut any stone with an emerald cut. I frequently use emerald cuts!
  • Rose Cut - This vintage style is actually a cabochon! This cut is flat on the bottom with facets on the top, resembling a rosebud. 

Understanding Stone Cuts - Emerald and Rose-Cut Rings - Kristen Baird Blog

Here are a few you maybe haven’t heard of but which we love just the same!:

  • Asscher - a square version of the emerald cut
  • Marquise - A brilliant-cut gem with a thin, elongated shape. 
  • Baguette - A rectangle, step-cut stone with square corners (also available tapered)
  • Trillion - A triangle-shaped brilliant cut. (I mentioned this above!)

Understanding Stone Cuts - Marquise Rings - Kristen Baird Blog

Whoo! That’s a lot of information! There are many, many more cuts and, in fact, new ones are being invented every day. If you’re interested in exploring some new and highly original cuts, I recommend checking out John Dyer Gems. There are so many fascinating shapes and designs to learn about. His cuts are some of my absolute favorites, and I hope to have the chance to work with one of them someday!

If you need help identifying the cut of a stone, never hesitate to reach out. I love working with unique and unusual gems.

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