Shape and cut ... it doesn't sound too difficult, yet when asked, most people are a little "fuzzy" about the two concepts as they relate to gemstones. And not just the public! Even many employees of jewelry manufacturers are cloudy on this topic.
Simply stated, shape is the outline or form that any gemstone exhibits when viewed face up. Examples of commonly seen gemstone shapes include square, rectangle, round, triangle, octagonal (square or rectangular), cushion (square or rectangular), pear, heart, marquise and oval.
Interestingly, any shape other than a round is considered a "fancy" in the diamond trade. Some of the more exotic fancies--such as crescents, stars, chevrons, kites, shields and clovers -- while striking, are rarely seen in the jewelry trade. I want to emphasize that each of these terms describes the outward form only.
Each shape may be cut or faceted in a multitude of ways. For example, a square may be trapezoidal step cut, radiant cut, mixed step cut and so on. The shape is the same, but the manner or style of faceting is different.
The greatest number of variations may be found on round stones. Rounds may be brilliant cut, step cut, Swiss cut, mixed step cut, Portuguese cut, modified Portuguese cut and ... well, you get the idea. The list goes on and on.
In truth, the selection of shape, as well as the style and method of faceting, is limited only by the skill and creativity of the individual lapidary (gem cutter). It is by his or her hand that the true beauty of the gemstone may be brought to life.
Branded Gemstone Cuts
Now that I have clarified two basic concepts concerning diamonds and colored stones, there is one other area that needs to be discussed: branded cuts. Branded cuts are new styles of faceting applied to traditional shapes. One of the earliest entries in this category was the princess cut. Its name designated both the shape and style of faceting; the princess is a brilliant cut applied to square or rectangular diamonds.
Most branded cuts, however, are trademarked or registered to protect the designer or creator for a period of time. Specialty cuts, like the Royal Asscher®, Quadrillion™ and Gabrielle®, as well as many others, have given new life to many traditional styles and offer an exciting array of choices.
While not difficult to comprehend, shape and cut are extremely important concepts to understand. Now, with that knowledge in hand, you may feel confident when discussing your needs and desires the next time you are searching for that special stone.