Cutting For Color

by Nancy Plante March 03, 2023

Cutting For Color

       An emerald-cut,  blue-green tourmaline gemstone.

Today we'd like to take a look at colored gemstones and how they can be cut in different ways.


When we look at a gemstone, the first thing we usually notice is the color.
Then we notice the shape: round, oval, cushion, square, triangle...
A closer look will show that there is another variable that affects the look of a colored gemstone:  the way it is cut.

The two main ways that a gemstone can be cut are:

Faceted -- A facet is a small, polished plane surface on a gemstone. Facets reflect light. There are many different styles and patterns of faceting.
Cabochon -- A cabochon cut means that the gemstone has a smooth, domed surface.
Above:   This tourmaline is emerald-cut, meaning it has long straight facets called step cuts.  Click the picture to read more about it.

          A cabochon-cut chrysoprase gemstone that is light green in color.

Here is a chrysoprase gemstone cut as a cabochon.Its smooth, rounded surface is completely differentfrom a faceted gem.


A gemstone cutter (called a lapidary) will start by looking at the rough gemstone material, and planning how to end up with the most beautiful finished gemstone.
The goal is to show the color at its best.
This is an American Sapphire, mined in Montana.
Lapidary Chris Wolfsberg began by blocking the rough gem material to begin to create the desired shape (top picture). Sapphire is a hard gemstone, so it took many hours to get to the finished faceted gem. Notice how the color and brilliance are enhanced by the faceting.
 Here is a fascinating gemstone!

This is an example of native cutting, which means the gemstone was cut near to where it was mined.

Notice how the facets are not as symmetrical as the facets in the finished Montana sapphire shown above.  Click the picture to learn more about this gemstone.


An ornage-red spinel gemstone from Burma, native cut.
         A purple amethyst gemstone, rectangular cushion shape with faceting that creates a burst of light from the center of the gem.
Award-winning lapidary Chris Wolfsberg cut this gorgeous amethystgemstone into a stunning work of art. 
The rectangular cushion shape is enlivened with half-round cutouts on the sides. Concave facets on the pavilion (bottom part of the gemstone) create a burst of light. 
There is currently a lot of interest in "art" gems that featureunique shapes and faceting.
         An orange sardonyx gemstone that has been carved with a profile of a goddess with snakes for hair.
Since ancient times, gemstones have been carved into portraits, symbols, crests, and other meaningful motifs.
This profile is carved in sardonyx, a variety of agate. This gem comes from a collection from Marcel's great-grandfather, Arthur Plante.

We have many (MANY!) colored gemstones in our safe, in all colors, shapes, faceting styles and prices.All of them are ready for your project!Contact us, or come on in to see the possibilities!



Nancy Plante
Nancy Plante


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