Gem Cuts November 15 2016
The defining characteristic of a gemstone can often be its cut. Round, oval, cabochon, cushion, heart and radiant are all popular cuts used in an assortment of gems and each tells a special and unique story. Transforming rough and unpolished gems into the shapes we know takes several years of experience and an eye for immaculate detail. Professional gem cutters who have perfected this art and skill can reveal the true color and brilliance of a gemstone and showcase its innate beauty. In this blog, we’ll dig a little deeper into the countless cuts available for gems from across the world.
The cabochon cut is by far the oldest known cut to be used on a gemstone. Simply put, it is a polished gemstone without any facets. With a flat bottom and a rounded top, this traditional cut can be used on any shape and hence was the prevalent choice since the early 13th century when the expertise and knowledge of modern cutting were still being developed. Even with the advancement of cutting technology, some stones exhibit their unique character only if they are cradled under a cabochon cut. For example, asterism, or the star effect in sapphires and chatoyancy, the cats-eye effect in tourmaline is best viewed under a cabochon cut. The smooth viewing angle not only helps to minimize any scratches but also disperses light in a way that preserves these natural phenomena.
One of the most difficult cuts to be made is the briolette. Shaped as a drop, it consists of 84 symmetrical triangular facets surrounding its body with no table, crown or pavilion. This intricate cut does not help the gem emanate a bursting brilliance but its orientation aids the reflection of light from all angles. The many angles, like tiny chandeliers, lead to a wonderful display of radiance and shimmer and hence is popular for dangling earrings. Most jewelers mount briolette cuts using a precious metal cap secured at the tip of the gem or may simply drill a hole through its tip and insert a hanging metal wire. It is believed that the briolette cut originated in India during the 12th century and was later introduced to the rest of the world through the excursions of the French traveler, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. Its popularity rose in western Europe as it was featured in a large array of tiaras, crowns and earrings used by monarchs especially during the Victorian and Edwardian time periods.
Another popular cut is the trilliant. The curved variation of this triangular shape is known as the trillion and is usually used for single solitaire stones whereas its un-curved counterpart, the trilliant, is better used for side stones. Consisting of 31 to 43 facets, this symmetrical cut can exude a brilliance second to none as its carefully engineered proportions reflect and align light to the eye of its beholder. Due to the shallow nature of this cut, the transparency of the gem is slightly enhanced and can make dust and dirt on its surface appear more readily. Although this cut may require some extra cleaning, its upside is that the shallow cut enables the gem to appear bigger given its weight. This illusory nature makes it popular for minimizing waste during the cutting process.
The cabochon, briolette and trilliant have unique features that highlight different aspects of a gem. These three cuts are just a peek into the wide spectrum of cuts developed over time within the gem industry. The radiant silhouettes they encompass have been perfected over hundreds of years and the artistry and skill will continue to produce more magnificent ways of sparkling in your eyes.