Welcome to Malak Jewelers' Educational Post! This week, let's learn more about one of those all important 4 Cs: cut!

The cut of a gemstone can have a huge impact on your choice of jewelry. Make an informed choice by learning all about gemstone cutting before you shop!

Shape vs. Cut

When most people think of gemstone cut, they generally think of the shape of the gemstone. Part of that is due to vocabulary: we would say that a ring features a "princess-cut" diamond or a "cushion-cut" diamond. This leads people to assume that the shape of the gemstone is what we mean when we talk about cut.

But, you may be surprised to learn that that's not what we mean! Shape and cut go hand in hand -- some shapes work better with certain cuts, for example -- but are actually different concepts in the world of gemology. Shape is pretty straight-forward: it refers to the shape the stone is cut into. A princess-cut is a square diamond, for example. Cut, on the other hand, refers to the faceting of the stone.

Cut is vital to emphasize the fire, brilliance, and clarity of the stone. Diamonds, for example, would be infinitely less appealing without a proper cut. It is the cut of the diamond that gives it its sparkle and glow. A poorly cut diamond will not have the scintillating hints of color or shine that a well cut diamond would.

History of Diamond Cutting

If you know anything about gemology, then you might be wondering how it is that gemstones are cut. Diamonds, after all, are one of the hardest substances on Earth. What could cut a diamond? Well, that's what makes the history of diamond cutting so interesting. You see, the only thing hard enough to cut a diamond is... another diamond.

For a long time, gemstone cutting was extremely limited. Softer stones might be carved, but gemstones were mostly just polished to a high shine. This formed the basis of cabochon cut -- a bit of a misnomer, really, since cabochons have no facets, but are instead a smoothly polished, rounded stone.

When early jewelers realized that they could cut a diamond with another diamond, they began to experiment. Early cut gems would have been in point cut -- a pyramid shape -- or table cut -- a point cut with the tip cut off. Table cuts were more popular, and began to get more facets. As time went on, technology improved and allowed jewelers to play around more. This led to the rose cut, a diamond with many small, triangular facets on the top.

The real change came with the invention of the brilliant cut. In the 17th century, Baroque styling demanded a new, shinier diamond that would reflect candlelight at dinners. Enter the brilliant, a diamond perfectly formulated to reflect the maximum light while allowing for a high degree of fire. Brilliant diamonds were originally just to compliment the more common rose or table cut diamonds, but over time became popular on their own. Today, most diamonds are cut brilliant-style to enhance the natural beauty of the stone.

Other Cuts

Brilliant cut is the most popular for diamonds, but it is not the only cut! There are a wide variety of cuts that you can choose from. Some cuts work better for different stones, or for different settings. Some are just an interesting alternative to the mainstream brilliant. But if you want something different, there are plenty of options!


Emerald and asscher cut stones are similar, with the only difference being shape: emerald cuts are rectangular, while asscher cuts are square or octagonal. These stones feature a step-cut rather than a round faceting like a brilliant cut. While they feature less fire or sparkle than a brilliant, they have a timeless elegance. Emerald and asscher cuts are mostly associated with art deco jewelry.


As mentioned earlier, cabochon cut stones are not faceted, but rather smoothed and polished into a round dome shape. Cabochons work wonderfully for colored gemstones, especially opaque stones that would not have the same effects from faceting. Cabochons are also great for star gemstones (such as rubies or sapphires). A star ruby or sapphire will show its asterism best in a cabochon form!

Fantasy Cut

Fantasy cutting was invented in the 1940s, so it's a relatively new style. It's also perhaps the most "out there" form of gem cutting. In a fantasy cut, carvings are made on the back of the gemstone to allow for interesting styles of light play. This is a more creative style of gem cutting, unlike other forms which are dictated by centuries of tradition. If you're looking for something different, fantasy cut is for you!

Now that you know more about gemstone cutting, go forth and shop! Malak Jewelers has a beautiful selection of brilliant cut stones, but we also feature many other cuts, so there's bound to be something for you here!

Malak Jewelers is Charlotte, North Carolina’s premier direct diamond importer, supplier of loose diamonds, and custom design jewelry. When you buy from Malak you receive 100 Day Price Protection and a Lifetime Upgrade Promise. Be sure to check out our wide variety of diamond engagement rings both in our online catalogue and at our store in Charlotte, North Carolina's Arboretum Shopping Center.