Bling's Anatomy - What is in a Stone's Cut? - Thomaston Auction
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January 2, 2024

Bling's Anatomy - What is in a Stone's Cut?

Happy New Year, everyone! We hope you had a peaceful and warm holiday season, as well as a relaxing New Year’s Day.

In this post, we will discuss the types of gemstone cuts that are frequently seen and implemented in fine jewelry, especially ones we see the most here at Thomaston Place.

How does a gemstone get its cut? Who decides how it’s to be shaped before mounted into a ring, necklace or bracelet?

That is the task of a lapidarists. Lapidary is a craft that involves transforming rough gemstones into polished, faceted gems. The process of a gemstone’s cut is as follows:

  1. Selection of a raw gemstone
  2. Marking the stone, and making note of the inclusions and color.
  3. Cleaving/sawing the gem
  4. Grinding to remove excess material
  5. Preforming, the act of creating a basic shape and remove imperfections
  6. Faceting, the detailed and extremely precise art of cutting into the stone
  7. Polishing the stone
  8. Inspection and then setting the stone

Once the gemstone is cut and polished, it can be set into jewelry, such as rings, earrings, or pendants. The lapidarists decide, usually based on the client’s request, what shape the stone will take. The most popular cuts we see in the auction industry are listed below.

Brilliant Cut

By far the most popular type of cut with jewelry buyers and bidders, the brilliant cut style is commonly seen with diamonds, especially in engagement rings and special occasion jewelry pieces.

This was originally developed in 1919 by Belgian engineer Marcel Tolkowsky, and noted the ideal proportions are 100% diameter, 53% table, 43.1% pavilion and 16.2% crown.

We’ve sold countless jewelry pieces with brilliant cut gemstones. Below is an example of what a brilliant cut diamond is that we’ve sold at our gallery, unmounted from its original ring to show its quality. This ring sold for $50,000 in a 2018 spring feature auction.

Step Cut

            Step cuts have different subtypes of gemstone cuts that carry rectangular facets both above the crown of the gem and below. These rectangular facets are always parallel to the girdle.

These are often seen especially with emeralds in most jewelry pieces, as it shows the color’s vibrancy the best. The most popular cuts are the emerald, for its given name, the baguette cut, and the princess cut.

An additional cut that many might recognize but not know its name is the Asscher, which is essentially a square version of the emerald cut.

We’ve sold countless jewelry pieces with step cuts, like this emerald ring that sold for $24,000 in a summer 2014 feature auction. Can you guess what kind of cut this is just from looking at it?

Mixed & Modified

Mixed cuts integrate features from both brilliant and step cuts, incorporating brilliant facets on the crown and step facets on the pavilion, or vice versa. In some instances, mixed cuts also incorporate a blend of cabbing and faceting techniques.

This style allows for creative expression and customized designs, like rose, cabochon, briolette and fantasy cuts, among others. Mixed and modified cuts are becoming more of a present-day popular choice, for its unique shape and branches slightly away from traditional cuts.

Of the aforementioned mixed cuts, there’s cabochon, seen here in this cabochon-cut moonstone necklace that sold for $23,000 in our 2023 Winter Enchantment auction. This necklace also features Ceylon-cut sapphires around the framed moonstone.

If you’re interested in taking a closer look at the jewelry, we have to see the types of gemstone cuts, we always welcome visitors in our gallery during our preview week, before each auction. Our jewelry counter is set up with the most dazzling pieces for any diverse taste, and one of our associates will be happy to let you try on any!

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Kaja Veilleux, ME AUC #902
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