How do gemstones become gemstones? Before they become the coveted precious stones, mineral crystals found in nature go through gem polishing and cutting to achieve that enticing sparkle that we all love.
Gem cutting is an art dating from as early as 3000BC. Today, expert lapidarists often use lasers, diamond blades and other methods on top of traditional cutting techniques to achieve the most brilliant cuts.
Let’s start off with polished gems.
Cabochon means polished like a “bubble”, usually in round, oval, or cushion shapes. This cutting style displays the lovely natural colour of the gemstone, and cabochons are very suitable for casual jewellery designs and pieces that feature exceptionally large stones. The gems shine and glow in a yummy way, like colourful, precious candies! Many men find cabochon cut gems to be a suitably masculine style, and very wearable for use in men’s rings, cufflinks, and shirt buttons.
Rough gem crystals can also be faceted to produce superior surface lustre, plus internal refraction and reflection. Faceted gemstones are the most valuable, and are most popular for use in jewellery.
The three most basic cutting styles are:
- Brilliant Cut
- Step Cut
- Fantasy Cut
As the name suggests, this cutting style gives off the most brilliance of any cut. Brilliant cuts consist of many triangular and kite-shaped facets that spread outward from the center of the gem, which maximize the light return through the top of the gem. Brilliant cut gems exhibit “gem fire”, a scintillation that captures your attention with its outstanding sparkle.
These precious gems usually come in round, oval, square, rectangular, pear, or heart shapes. Rounds, ovals, hearts and teardrop shapes have soft, feminine curves, and are often used in flowing, curvy jewellery designs. Square “Princess Cut” brilliants are appealing to people who like crisp, geometric, symmetrical designs, while still having that “sparkle” that catches the eye.
Well-known for its beauty and clarity, step cut features either a square or rectangular shape gemstone, where the facets are arranged parallel to one another. Skillfully step-cut coloured stones showcase the pure natural colour in a most lovely way, and only the finest gem crystals are often cut in this very traditional manner, as it is deemed the “purest” way to exhibit the colour. This precise, exacting, geometric style of cutting is beloved for its clean lines and pure, uncluttered shine, and the classic “Emerald Cut” is the most familiar example of this cutting style. There is often a premium for step cut fancy-coloured diamonds, and these can be the costliest of gems.
Munsteiner’s Dom Pedro – Ondas Maritimas, 1993, was an exquisite 10,363 ct
fantasy cut aquamarine gemstone. Photo by Donald E. Hurlbert, courtesy of
the Natural History Museum, the Smithsonian Institute
Invented by Bernd Munsteiner, fantasy cut gems are usually cut using laser-cutting technology, making non-traditional cutting designs on the gems. This unique faceting artistry creates stunning displays of light and colour, almost appearing magical.
The only limitation is your imagination! Animals, objects, faces, or virtually any shape can be “projected” inside the rough gem crystal using computer assisted design programs (CAD), and then the lapidarist must painstakingly follow the blueprint to produce the desired Fantasy Cut. Custom options abound, and such stones are often truly one-of-a-kind. Lower cost gems are usually used, but fantasy cut diamonds and precious sapphires are also available.
Found a style that appeals to your taste? You can get the finest customised jewellery in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur at La Putri’s boutique stores, where our in-house designers will work closely with you throughout the entire design process and give your jewellery your ideal cutting.