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A well-cut swiss blue topaz gemstone pendant showcasing symmetrical facets

An Intro to Gemstone Cut

Whether shopping for sapphires, emeralds or any other gemstone, the cut of the gemstone maximizes the beauty of the colour. Because gemstone colour can vary, there are no hard geometrical standards when it comes to maximizing brilliance or colour. While we may gravitate towards one cut over another based on our personal preference, several characteristics determine the value of a gemstone and its cut.
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What is the Difference Between Cut and Shape?

Gemstone cut and gemstone shape are often confused, and these terms may be used interchangeably. A gemstone's cut refers to how a raw crystal is turned, faceted, and polished. For gemstone jewellery, the gem cutter maximizes colour of the stone, enhances its brilliance, and, along with gemstone enhancements, it can help hide inclusions. Gemstone cuts are more variable than diamond cuts and may contain combinations of cuts to create an appealing stone. A gemstone’s shape on the other hand refers to its outline when you’re looking down at it.
  • Understanding Gemstone Cut
  • What to Look for When Buying a Gemstone

Understanding Gemstone Cut

A well-cut gemstone is symmetrical, well-polished and reflects light evenly across the surface, and the polish is smooth, without any nicks or scratches. Poorly-cut gemstones may appear dull, and poor cuts decrease the overall value of the gemstone. Like diamonds, fine quality colour gems usually have a table, crown, girdle, pavilion, and culet. Irridescent opals are one exception, and most often have a rounded cabochon cut.

A brilliant cut is ideal for the most sparkle and intense brilliance, although this cut tends to be more expensive than other cuts. The step cut is popular for gemstones because of its subtle sparkle, but step-cut gemstones tend to have a smaller face-up size. The coveted princess cut allows for a gem to appear larger, but you’ll have to be mindful of its sharp corners, which are prone to snagging.

What to Look for When Buying a Gemstone

While colour may be what attracts you to certain gemstones, the cut is what showcases the gemstone’s unique hue. As you shop, there are three main qualities to keep in mind when looking at the cut of a gemstone when determining value.
  1. 1


    An asymmetrically cut crown indicates a low-quality gemstone, since the light won’t reflect evenly across the surface.
  2. 2

    Cut and Shape

    In a gemstone with more saturated colour, the best cut may be more shallow than average, permitting more light to penetrate the gemstone, while in a less saturated gem, the colour may benefit from a deeper cut.
  3. 3

    Colour Zoning

    An uneven distribution of colour is common in naturally occurring gemstones. An expert cutter will keep uneven colour zones in mind and cut to evenly portion the colour for a striking look.

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