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Gemstone Cuts

by Arvid Jansson |

The critically acclaimed  movie Uncut Gems came out in 2019, and with Adam Sandler in the main role, it is a twisted story with connection to the gemstone business. However, an uncut stone is not really a gem. A stone becomes a gem first after cutting and polishing, that is where the magic appears. The simple reason for this is that an uncut stone lacks all the characteristics of the final gemstone you find in the store on the high street. For example how light is reflected or how different colors are reproduced. When a gemstone glitters, it is because of the so called facets of the stone. The facets are the different surfaces of the stone, all in different angles and together, they create the glitter when they reflect the light. For a stone to get the perfect facets, it needs to be cut and not seldom, the stone is reduced to half its original size before it reaches perfection. Despite this, its market value only increases. 

When you hear about different gemstone cuts, you can both hear about the different facets but also the different forms, in exchange if the stone is oval, squared in its shape or for instance triangular. In this blog chapter, we will not touch on the different forms.

The practice of shaping gemstones is called lapidary and the person doing the work is called a lapidarist. To be able to unfold a stone´s best parts (and hide the worst) demands a trained eye. For example, the stone can be clearer in its color in some parts of the stone and the lapidarist needs to catch these details to cut the perfect gem.

If you know your stones, you will investigate an array of things when you quality check the stone. A quality stone is clear in its color but it should also be balanced and symmetrical. It should also be a good ratio between the hight of the crown of the stone and the height of its pavilion. The crown is the surface seen from above while the pavilion is the surface seen from below. A rough indication is that the crown accounts for ⅓ of the stones height while the pavilion takes up the rest. This ratio will affect the glitter in the eye of the beholder. Obviously, a high quality stone should be without scratches and also have sharp angles between its facets. When you look at the stone from above, it should look as large as possible in relation to its size.

The three most common cuts are called brilliant cut, step cut and mixed cut. In addition, there are many different cuts such as divine cut, Ceylon cut, rose cut, barion cut, checkerboard cut, eight cut and old mine cut.

Brilliant cut
This cut is based on triangular and dragon shaped facets originating in the stone´s centre spreading to its sides. This cut is famous since it creates the most sparkle of all cuts (58 facets in total).

Step Cut
This cut creates rectangular facets that gradually rises towards the crown and fall down the pavilion. Common shapes in the step cut category is “Emerald” and “Baguette”. The cut is popular since it clearly reproduces the stone´s colors and clarity.

Mixed cuts
Mixed cut is a combination of above mentioned brilliant cut and step cut. A mixed cut stone can for instance be brilliant cut on its crown but with a step cut at its pavilion and vice versa.