Gemstones are nature’s exquisite creations, each with its unique allure and beauty. One of the most critical aspects of showcasing a gemstone’s brilliance lies in its cut. The way a gemstone is cut can significantly impact its sparkle, fire, and overall appeal. 

In this gemstone cutting guide, we’ll help you understand the gemstone cut terminology, compare the different gemstone cutting styles, and choose the best gemstone shape for your jewellery. We’ll also share some gemstone faceting tips and trends to help you create stunning and unique gemstone jewellery pieces.

What is a Gemstone Cut and Why Does It Matter?

Gemstone cuts refer to the manner in which a rough stone is shaped and faceted to enhance its brilliance and beauty. There are numerous cutting styles available, each with its distinct characteristics and allure. The quality of a gemstone cut depends on several factors, such as the symmetry, proportions, polish, and angles of the facets. A well-cut gemstone will reflect and refract light optimally, creating a dazzling display of brilliance, fire, and scintillation. A poorly-cut gemstone, on the other hand, will appear dull, lifeless, and dark.

Gemstone cut grading is a system that evaluates the quality of a gemstone cut based on its light performance, design, and craftsmanship. The most widely used gemstone cut grading system is the one developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which assigns grades from Excellent to Poor. The GIA gemstone cut grading system applies only to round brilliant diamonds, as other gemstone shapes and cuts have more variation and complexity. However, some general principles of gemstone cut grading can be applied to other gemstones as well, such as the importance of balance, symmetry, and proportions.

Popular Gemstone Cuts and Shapes

Gemstone cuts and shapes are often used interchangeably, but they are not exactly the same. Gemstone cuts refer to the faceting pattern and style of a gemstone, while gemstone shapes refer to the outline or silhouette of a gemstone. For example, a round brilliant cut is a type of gemstone cut that can be applied to different gemstone shapes, such as round, oval, or pear. Some of the most popular gemstone cuts and shapes include:

Diamonds are renowned for their dazzling brilliance, and their cuts play a crucial role in maximising their sparkle. Popular diamond cuts and shapes include the round brilliant, princess, emerald, and marquise cuts and shapes, each offering a unique blend of fire and brilliance. The round brilliant cut and shape is the most popular and versatile diamond cut and shape, as it maximises the light return and symmetry of the stone. 

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The princess cut and shape is a square-shaped cut and shape that offers a modern and elegant look, while the emerald cut and shape is a rectangular cut and shape that showcases the clarity and depth of the diamond. The marquise cut and shape is an elongated oval-shaped cut and shape that creates the illusion of a larger and more slender stone.

Beyond diamonds, various gemstones are cut into different shapes to enhance their natural beauty. From classic round cuts and shapes to fancy shapes like pear, oval, and cushion cuts and shapes, there’s a myriad of options to explore when selecting the perfect gemstone cut and shape for your jewellery. The round cut and shape is the most common and versatile gemstone cut and shape, as it suits any colour and type of stone. 

The pear cut and shape is a teardrop-shaped cut and shape that combines the elegance of a round and marquise cut and shape, while the oval cut and shape is a symmetrical and elongated cut and shape that accentuates the size and colour of the stone. The cushion cut and shape is a square or rectangular cut and shape with rounded corners that gives a soft and romantic look to the gemstone.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Cut and Shape

When selecting a gemstone cut and shape, several factors come into play, influencing both the aesthetic appeal and practicality of the final piece. Here are some essential considerations to keep in mind:

Different gemstones have varying properties, such as hardness, colour, and clarity, which can affect how they should be cut and shaped. For instance, softer gemstones may require protective settings to prevent damage, while certain cuts and shapes may enhance or detract from a stone’s natural colour. The hardness of a gemstone determines how well it can withstand wear and tear, and how easy it is to cut and polish. 

The colour of a gemstone can be influenced by the cut and shape, as some cuts and shapes can intensify or diminish the hue and saturation of the stone. The clarity of a gemstone refers to the presence or absence of inclusions and blemishes, which can affect the light performance and transparency of the stone.

The choice of cut and shape should complement the overall design and style of the jewellery piece. Whether you prefer classic elegance or contemporary flair, selecting a cut and shape that aligns with your aesthetic preferences is key to creating a harmonious and visually pleasing ensemble. The setting of a gemstone refers to the way it is mounted or secured on the metal base of the jewellery piece. 

The setting can affect the appearance and durability of the gemstone, as well as the comfort and ease of wearing the jewellery. The style of a gemstone refers to the overall look and feel of the jewellery piece, such as the shape, size, colour, and arrangement of the gemstones. The style can reflect your personality, mood, and occasion, as well as the current fashion trends and preferences.

The price and availability of a gemstone cut and shape can vary depending on the demand, supply, and rarity of the stone. Generally, the more popular and common a gemstone cut and shape is, the more affordable and accessible it is. Conversely, the more rare and unique a gemstone cut and shape is, the more expensive and scarce it is. For example, round brilliant cuts and shapes are usually the most affordable and available, as they are the most widely produced and sold. On the other hand, custom gemstone cuts and shapes are usually the most costly and rare, as they are specially made and ordered.

Gemstone Cutting Trends and Innovations

As with any aspect of jewellery design, gemstone cutting evolves over time, reflecting changing tastes, technological advancements, and artistic innovation. Some of the latest trends and innovations in gemstone cutting include:

With advancements in technology and cutting techniques, jewellery designers now have greater flexibility in creating custom-cut and custom-shaped gemstones tailored to their clients’ preferences. From unique faceting patterns to bespoke shapes, custom-cut and custom-shaped gemstones offer endless possibilities for creating one-of-a-kind jewellery pieces, or engagement rings.

Custom gemstone cuts and shapes can also reflect the personal story, meaning, and symbolism of the wearer, adding a sentimental and emotional value to the jewellery. For example, some people may choose to have their gemstones cut and shaped into forms that represent their initials, zodiac signs, or favourite animals.

Precision cutting has become increasingly prevalent in the world of gemstone jewellery, allowing for unparalleled accuracy and consistency in faceting. Advanced tools and machinery enable gem cutters to achieve intricate designs and symmetrical proportions, resulting in superior light performance and brilliance. 

Precision cutting techniques can also create stunning optical effects, such as kaleidoscopic patterns, holographic images, and 3D illusions, that add to the visual intrigue and allure of the gemstone. For example, some gem cutters use laser technology to engrave microscopic images or messages inside the gemstone, creating a hidden surprise for the wearer.


In conclusion, the choice of gemstone cut and shape plays a pivotal role in defining the beauty and allure of a piece of jewellery. Whether you’re drawn to the timeless elegance of classic cuts and shapes or the avant-garde appeal of custom designs, understanding the language of gemstone shapes and cuts can help you choose the perfect cut and shape for your gemstone jewellery. 

By considering the gemstone characteristics, setting and style preferences, and budget and availability, you can find the cut and shape that best suits your taste, budget, and occasion. Moreover, by keeping up with the latest trends and innovations in gemstone cutting, you can discover new and exciting ways to showcase the brilliance and beauty of your precious stones.

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