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Quick Guide To Understanding Common Gem Cutting Styles

Quick Guide To Understanding Common Gem Cutting Styles

The art of lapidary is a fascinating hobby as you cut and shape gems into beautiful designs. While some people do this to add to their gemstone collection, others cut precious stones to create jewelry. And there are various ways to cut and shape gems as you change the overall appearance. Explore this quick guide to understanding common gem cutting styles as you search out inspiration!

Why Gemstone Cut and Shape Matter

The way a lapidarist cuts and shapes a gem can impact its overall brilliance. This is because of the number of facets and how they relate to one other; the better the light reflects, the more brilliant the gem appears.

Gemstone shape and cut are not the same things. Cut refers to the way facets are arranged in a gem. Lapidaries create these facets during the cutting process. On the other hand, the shape refers to the “look” of the stone. For example, heart-shaped refers to the shape, while the cut is the arrangement of the facets in that stone. This distinction is important since some shapes reflect light better than others.

How Are Gems Cut?

Lapidaries need to use a lap and other tools to cut gems. They may need stronger materials, such as diamond grit powder, to cut their stones depending on the material. Some even use faceting machines to cut gems quickly and efficiently.

The Gem Cutting Process

Before you can begin cutting or shaping a stone, you’ll have to assess the material, clarity, and quality. Gems with many inclusions or imperfections may need more material cut off than those that are clearer. As you assess the stone, you should also decide on the best facet pattern. After doing this, you can begin sawing the stone and removing any imperfections so you can shape it.

Once you’ve shaped the stone and removed those imperfections, you’ll need to sand it to remove the scratches caused by the process, while adding in the facets. Remember, facets allow light to reflect off a gemstone and are essential to achieve that sparkle most look for in jewelry.

The final key component of the cutting process is polishing the gem, as this helps to remove any scratches to ensure the stone looks brilliant. So, as a little refresher, the main steps to cutting a stone include:

  • Assessing the gem
  • Sawing
  • Removing inclusions and shaping
  • Faceting
  • Sanding
  • Polishing

Make sure you use the appropriate materials and tools to cut your stone to prevent damage during this process. It’s always best to purchase high-quality machines from a lapidary supplier.

Buying Lapidary Equipment

Cutting Edge Supply sells the lapidary cutting machines you need to create beautiful pieces. Browse our cutting machines, rock tumblers, and more so you can create incredible jewelry with durable tools.

Common Gemstone Cuts

As you begin cutting and shaping your gemstone, keep in mind that there are various styles for shape. Some of the most popular include:

  • Asscher cut
  • Brilliant cut
  • Cushion cut
  • Emerald cut
  • Princess cut

Since these are among the most popular styles, let’s take a deeper look at each one and find out what makes them unique!


Of the many cut styles, brilliant is among the most popular. It gets its name because gems with this facet pattern have a superior sparkle and reflect light better than the other cutting styles a lapidarist may use.


This cut style stands out because of the large step facets and high crown. Typically, Asscher cut gems appear square with cropped corners. However, Asscher cut gemstones appear to have superior clarity, adding overall value most of the time.


Cushion-cut stones appear soft, just like a pillow. Many people gravitate towards this style because of its increased brilliance. It’s also the ideal blend of brilliant and princess-cut stones for anyone seeking a classic yet unique gem.


As far as cut goes, emerald is among the most popular. Experts often recommend this style for colored gems since it can make them appear even more vivid and draw attention to a stone’s natural beauty.


The princess cut is similar to brilliant-cut gems but is square rather than round. Due to the shape, many gravitate towards princess cut in jewelry making because it appears very modern yet has the classic appearance of the popular brilliant gem.

Common Gemstone Shapes

As explained, a gem’s cut and shape are not the same but the two do relate to one another. For example, a cushion-cut gem has a rounded, square appearance. Get some inspiration from a deeper look at three of the popular shapes. The shape of a gemstone can impact the cut and the overall value of the gem since different shapes reflect light differently.


Fascinatingly, this style didn’t come about until the 1950s. Oval is a popular shape, specifically when cutting gems for rings. If you cut an oval-shaped gemstone, be careful, as many oval gems contain a “bowtie” reflection that appears as a dark spot.


Round is among the most popular shapes because it allows for a brilliant cut. This shape is prevalent in engagement rings since every bride-to-be loves a gem that dazzles in the light.


The square shape is common for specific cuts such as princess, emerald, Asscher, and cushion. This shape is popular because it creates a modern-looking gem once you complete the cutting and shaping process.

A Wrap Up: Why Cut and Shape Matter

In this quick guide to understanding common gem cutting styles, we covered some of the most popular cuts and shapes of gemstones. While the two terms may relate to one another, they’re not the same when it comes to gems and jewelry making. A gem’s cut can impact its worth, while shape describes the look of the stone.

Understanding the common cut and shape styles allows you to carve stones you can sell. If you create jewelry as a full-time job or side gig, knowing what’s popular is essential to making a great profit.

Cutting Edge Supply

Buy the best lapidary and jewelry making tools at Cutting Edge Supply. We have everything you need to follow your passion in the creative art of carving gems. Now that you know about the most popular cuts and shapes, it’s time to stock up on equipment so you can create something beautiful.

Quick Guide To Understanding Common Gem Cutting Styles

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