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Different Types Of Gemstone Cuts

Curious about how different types of cuts and facets affect the final look of your gemstone? Different cuts enhance the different qualities of the gemstone. Various aspects such as colour, clarity, sparkle, fire, carat, etc that define the grade of the gemstones depend on the cuts used to polish the gemstone.

Image credit: Rocks & Co.

Classic gemstone shapes and cuts

Some of the classic shapes and cuts of the gemstones are listed as follows:


  • Round Brilliant Cut

The round brilliant cut is the most popular and expensive cut owing to its high degree of sparkle. This cut features the most number of facets per gem and results in fantastic fire and unmatchable clarity. This cut requires finesse, expertise in craftsmanship and patience as it is very demanding to accomplish the desired result. 

  • Marquise Cut

Also known as Navette cut, this style of gemstone cutting was designed to optimize the surface where light can be reflected. It is crafted with 57 facets and offers It boasts of having the largest crown surface area amongst all the various types of gemstone cuts. A marquise gemstone appears much larger than any other cut for the same size of the gemstone. The elongated  shape of the marquise gemstone flatters its wearer’s hand adding a touch of delicate gracefulness. However, its shape also makes it prone to chipping. Symmetry plays a particularly important role in this type of brilliant cut since minor imperfections and misalignments become blatantly obvious in a slender shape like this. 

  • Oval Cut

The oval cut is a hybrid between the round brilliant cut and the marquise cut. Designed with 69 facets, it has the highest number of facets per gemstone.However, modern ovals are cut in the brilliant style with 58 facets. This cut of gemstone offers its wearer the brilliance of the round cut gemstone in a more unique shape. Due to the spherical nature of most rough gemstones, the oval cut is the most common shape for coloured gemstones. An added advantage of this type of cut is that it provides a good balance between weight retention and beauty. This cut of gemstone has a high sparkle that hides naturally occuring inclusions efficiently. Oval gemstones create an illusion of larger stones due its elongated silhouette. 

  • Emerald Cut

The emerald cut is a rectangular shaped gemstone with characteristically trimmed croners. With 50 facets per gemstone, the emerald cut brings the focus back from the sparkle to the stone’s colour and clarity. Initially crafted to cut emeralds, this cut was the solution to hiding numerous inclusions while avoiding potential chipping and breakage during the faceting process. This cut presents the deep and vivid colour saturation of various gemstones and  is known for its ‘hall of mirror’ effect which creates a dramatic effect of alternating dark and light lines. This effect is caused by step cuts and straight cuts parallel to the stone's girdle. Emerald cut reflects light in clean sheets imparting an elegant feel. 

  • Pear Cut

A child of the marquise cut and the oval cut, the pear cut is fashioned in the shape of a gleaming teardrop. Featuring 71 facets, ths cut reflects light glamorously and allows the colour to showcase dramatically. The tip of the pear gem hides inclusions perfectly. Symmetry is of significance in pear cut gemstone. The tip of the gem should align perfectly  with the peak of the rounded end to create a flawless gem. 

  • Baguette Cut

Baguette cut gemstones are long and rectangular in shape. They are most commonly used as accent stones in jewellery. The word baguette is derived from the Italian word ‘bachetta’ which means a stick or the French word ‘baguette’ which refers to an elongated loaf of bread. This cut of gemstone stands out for its symmetry, clean lines, geometry and modern look. Like the emerald cut, baguette cut is formed using step cuts but with fewer facets. The baguette cut features 14 facets that allow maximising the stone’s clarity. However, it is important to cut them properly as there are fewer ways to hide any imperfections. An unique quality of baguette cut stones is that it can be stacked side by side without any gaps as opposed to other types of cuts, making them indispensable in designing jewellery. 

  • Trilliant Cut

Trilliant cut gemstones are cut and shaped to be triangular in shape. The edges are carved into straight steps to form a triangle - this variation is called Trilliant. Another variation of the trilliant cut is where the edges are carved into curved steps to form a triangular shape - this version is called Trillion. Fundamentally, the trilliant is a type of round brilliant but in an equilateral form. The number of facets in the trilliant cut vary between 31 to 43. Symmetry, balance, angles, proportions and geometry is crucial to achieve trilliant cut gemstone that is sparkly and brilliant. This cut is sought after by lapidarists as it is known to minimize waste from the natural rough stone during the process of carving. 

  • Radiant Cut

This non-traditional cut is beautifully symmetric. It offers the brilliance of the round cut and the clarity of the emerald cut. The fect designing of the radiant cut gives it a fiery radiant look with soft corners. Also known as ‘rectangular modified brilliant’. Radiant cut gemstones have lesser wastage as compared to round diamonds as they use the maximum amount of rough stone. Radiant cut gemstones tend to be deeper which means that they will appear smaller for the same carat weight when compared to the other classic gemstone cuts.

  • Octagon Cut

The octagon cut is another style that utilizes the step cut approach. It is formed with multiple rows of wide and flat concentric facets that resemble stairs. Unlike the emerald cut, these facets are not equidistant. The octagon cut has 53 facets that are ideal in showcasing the deep hues of the gemstones. This style of gemstone cutting has a drawback of clearly exhibiting any visible inclusions, hence, only the gems with beautiful colour and no visible inclusions must be used for this type of cut. 

  • Heart Cut

The heart cut is a gemstone with a cleft on top to resemble a heart. Heart cut gemstones have approximately 95 facets designed to deliver maximum brilliance when exposed to natural light. Heart shape is more suitable for larger stone sized above half a carat to properly showcase its design. Although this type of gemstone cut has lost its popularity in recent times, it has a rich history and deep symbolism.

  • Briolette Cut

This style of gemstone cutting has been used since the Victorian times. A rough stone is adorned and shaped with facets all over to resemble a disco ball in the shape of a teardrop. This type of gemstone cut is the most demanding as it has 84 triangular shaped individual facets. Due to its many angles, this type of gemstone catches and reflects light to create a wonderful display of sparkle. Owing to its shape, the briolette gemstone is very popular for dangling jewellery like pendants and earrings. 

  • Princess Cut

Technically known as ‘Square Modified Brilliant’, the princess cut is a modern spin on the classic square cut and the round brilliant cut. It is the second most popular cut after the round brilliant cut. This cut is fundamentally a square cut with rounded corners. Its shape allows it to utilize more gemstone as compared to the round brilliant cut and hence, a princess cut gemstone with the same diameter as a round cut gemstone will have a comparatively higher carat weight. The princess cut gemstones retain about 80% of the rough gemstone while the round gemstone only retains about 50% of the original stone. The princess cut uses between 58 to 76 facets. Its size and number of facets allow a beautiful interplay of light when it hits its surface, creating a dazzling sparkle. The princess cut is most suitable for light hued or transparent gemstones. The most notable drawback of the princess cut gemstones is that its corners are more prone to damage. Extra care must be taken by jewellers to protect them. 

  • Cabochon Cut

Cabochon is a non-faceted cut that is very popular for gemstones that inherently have a waxy luster, translucent/opaque or display effects like chatoyancy, asterism, irredence or adularescence. Cabochons have a smooth round surface top that is like a pillow and a flat bottom. It derives its name from a French term ‘caboche’ which means a head. Lapidarists prefer this cut for gemstones that are delicate and prone to scratching and damage during the faceting process. 

  • Cushion Cut

This classic cut is also referred to as ‘Old European Cut’ or ‘Pillow Cut’ showcases 64 facets that shape the stone into a basic square with rounded corners resembling a couch cushion. This design was devised to reduce wastage while carving it from its raw state. A peculiarity of the cushion cut is its large facets which means that despite being a brilliant cut, it reflects less light and blockier light pattern as compared to a round brilliant cut. While this quality imparts a vintage feel to this cut, it also makes it unforgiving with any inclusions or flaws since the large facets act as a window into the stone’s interior.

  • Asscher Cut

Asscher cut is an old style of step cut carved in an octagonal shape. It is also called ‘Sqaure emerald cut’ and resembles a square when affixed on a mounted setting. The appeal of the asscher cut is its quality of maximum clarity (as opposed to brilliance) given the low number of facets in its crown. This cut is distinguished by a peculiar cross ‘X’ in the center of the gemstone’s table. Usually considered a vintage cut, the asscher cut has seen a resurgence in its popularity in recent years.

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