Shape and cut don't sound too confusing, yet most people are a little fuzzy about the two concepts as they relate to gemstones. It's not just the public though; even many employees of jewelry manufacturers are cloudy on this topic.
Simply stated, shape is the outline or form 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 'round' is considered a "fancy shape" in the diamond trade. Some of the more exotic fancy shapes such as crescents, stars, chevrons, kites, shields and clovers 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 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 gem cutter known as a lapidary. It is by his or her hand that the true beauty of the gemstone may be brought to life.
Branded Gemstone 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 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 can feel confident when discussing your needs and desires the next time you are searching for that special stone.