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The Difference Between Gemstone Shape and Gemstone Cut

A gemstone’s shape and cut are two commonly used terms you’ll often hear others refer to when speaking about jewellery. Although this can be confusing at first, it’s important to note that they’re not the same. They do, however, work together to create the desired stone you’re purchasing. Today, we’ll be covering the key differences between shape and cut, so that you can properly articulate and identify the right gemstone for your needs.

Gemstone Shapes

Gemstone shapes are straightforward and easy to understand. For most people, the shape is typically the first thing they consider before making a purchase. It often refers to the the face-up shape of a stone’s finished form, whether that’s round, square, heart, pear, marquise, or rectangular. The shape is an important consideration since it can directly impact the price depending on market demand, manufacturing costs, and other factors.

Gemstone Cut

Once you’ve picked a shape for your stone, it’s time to decide on a cut. As you know now, shape refers the face-up outline of a stone when looking at it from a top view. Cut, on the other hand, determines how a gemstone is faceted which ultimately impacts the intensity of a stone’s brightness when placed into the light. This “glowing” effect is the result of light entering a stone and reflecting off of angles joined by the facets and sides.

While there are several different faceting styles, the three basic types to know are:

  • Brilliant - Facets are typically triangular, or rhomboidal (like kites), and spread out from the center of the gem in a radial pattern.
  • Step - Step cuts contain rectangular facets that go up the crown (the part above the girdle) and down the pavilion (the lower half) of a stone in a step-like pattern. This cut is most popular for emerald and baguette shapes.
  • Mixed - Mixed cuts typically combine step and brilliant styles.

Remember that jewellers can combine different cutting (faceting) styles with almost any shape. The combination of the two help determine the overall beauty and dazzle of a stone.



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