An Introduction To Gem Cuts: What Is A Gem Cut And Which Gem Cuts Are There?


Gemstones are graded according to the Four C’s: color, clarity, cut and carat. Experts use each of these properties to evaluate a gem. From the Four C’s, gem cut is the variable that gem experts can control to the greatest extend. However, the rarity of the combination of features that a specific gem has, is generally what gives the gem its value. Without experience, it is difficult to judge the cut quality because there are many variations involved. Therefore, it is essential to get familiar with different types of cuts, shapes and major aspects that determine the quality of a gem.

Before exploring different gem cuts, it is necessary to understand the main sections (i.e. crown, girdle and pavilion) and the main elements (i.e. types of facets, ratios and measurements) that make up a gem. When these terms do not sound familiar, read this article about diamond anatomy and shared elements first.


What Is The Difference Between Gem Cut And Gem Shape?

Even though gem cut and gem shape are not the same thing, they both work together in shaping the overall of the gem.

Gem Cut

Gem cut refers to the facets, dimensions, ratios and light reflective qualities of a gem. Cuts are graded as poor, fair, good, very good or excellent. For example with diamonds, the finer the stone is cut, the more fire and brilliance the diamond has. A diamond with a low cut grade will look more dull and less luminous than an excellent cut grade.  


Gem Shape

The shape of a gem refers to the overall geometric appearance or form of the stone after it has been cut. Before a gem takes its final shape, it goes through substantial changes since most of the time a gemstone is not used in its raw form. For example, heart-shaped gems, oval-shaped gems or round gems refer to the actual shape of the stone after a specific cut has been applied. Gem shapes are categorized into two basic groups: round- and fancy-shaped gems. Round gems are the most popular choice and have a been so for quite a while. Fancy shape gems refer to any gem that does not have a round shape.


Which Gem Cuts Are There?

There are many different gems cuts, all of which have unique characteristics and influence on the final appearance of the gem. Preference for a gem cut is largely a matter of personal preference and taste.


Round Cut Gem

The round gem cut is the most popular of all gem cuts. Round gems are carefully crafted for an optimal sparkle. Even thought the face-up area is not the largest compared to other gem cuts, an intense and mesmerizing sparkle will make it appear bigger.



Princess Cut Gem

The princess cut is characterized by its squared shape and brilliance. Depending on the exact cut, a princess cut gem usually features 50-58 facets. Most facets are located on the crown and the pavilion. Typically, these cuts have two or four chevron patterns when viewed from above.



Emerald Cut Gem

Emerald cut gems are traditionally rectangular and feature slightly beveled corners. The pavilion of emerald cut diamonds is angular and tapered rather than curved.



Cushion Cut Gem

Cushion cut gems comes in square or rectangular shapes and have round edges which make these gems durable. Cushion cut gems typically have between 58-64 facets. Cushion cut gems have a high level of brilliance.



Oval Cut Gem

Oval cut gems are longer than they are wide and don’t have any sharp edges making them less vulnerable to chipping.



Pear Cut Gem

As is the case with other elongated gems cuts, pear cut gems appear to be larger than cuts with a length-to-width ratio close to 1 such as rounds. When used for rings, the point of the stone typically points towards the fingernail.



Heart Cut Gem

Heart cut gems rely on symmetry and generally have a length-to-width ratio close to 1. The top of this cut features a cleft which much be deep enough to make the distinct heart shape. Additionally, heart cut gems usually are more suitable for larger rather than smaller stones, as it is difficult for the heart shape to stand out in small stones.



Asscher Cut Gem

Asscher cut gems look similar to emerald cut gems but feature a square shape rather than a rectangular shape. The corners of Asscher cut gems are actually beveled making it an octagonal shape.



Radiant Cut Gem

Radiant cut gems have a rectangular shape and beveled corners. The main difference with emerald cut gems is that radiant cut gems tend to have more brilliance.



Marquise Cut Gem

Marquise cut gems look large because of their elongated shape and large crown surface. The sparkle of marquise cut gems is strongest in the middle but less strong at the tips.




Gemstones come in many shapes and sizes. The cut of a gemstone is one of the main elements of gem grading according to the standard of the Four C’s (color, clarity, cut and carat). The cut of a gem refers to the facets, dimensions, ratios and light reflective qualities of the stone. Whereas gem shape refers to the overall geometric appearance or form of the stone after it has been cut. This article looked deeper into different cuts and shapes gems can take, including some of the most famous and popular gem cuts:

  • Round cut
  • Princess cut
  • Emerald cut
  • Cushion cut
  • Oval cut
  • Pear cut
  • Heart cut
  • Asscher cut
  • Radiant cut
  • Marquise cut

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