A Complete Guide to Gem Cuts: Everything You Need to Know

Are you looking to buy a gemstone but are wondering what gem cuts mean? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our complete guide to gem cuts!

Gems are known for their timeless beauty and have been a source of fascination for centuries. While many people are familiar with the classic brilliant cut, there are a variety of other cuts available for gems. 

Each cut has its own unique shape and characteristics, ranging from the classic brilliant cut to the modern curved facet cut. Knowing the different types of cuts can help you choose the right gem to fit your style. From the traditional princess cut to the contemporary radiant cut, this guide will explore the different types of gem cuts and their characteristics.

A Cut Above the Rest

The cut of a gem is extremely important because it affects the appearance and value of any precious stone. The cut of a gemstone affects the amount of light that can pass through the stone and how much of the brilliance is visible. 

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The quality of the cut also affects the shape and the overall look of the gemstone. A well-cut gem will appear brighter and more vibrant than one that is poorly cut.

The shape of the gemstone can have a huge impact on the way the light passes through it. Different shapes will allow for different amounts of light to pass through the gem. This can affect the color and clarity of the gem.

The polish of the gem is also important. A high-quality polish will create a smooth surface that will allow light to reflect off the gem in a uniform way. This will maximize the brilliance of the gem, while a poor polish can cause the gem to appear dull and lifeless.

The symmetry of the gem is also important when it comes to the cut of the gem. Symmetrical cuts will allow for even light dispersion, which will make the gem appear more vibrant and beautiful.

The Basics

There are three basic styles that gems are usually cut in, the brilliant cut, step cut, or the mixed cut.


a diamond with a brilliant cut


The Brilliant Cut

This classic cut is one of the most popular and recognizable cuts for gems and diamonds. It is a round cut with 57 or 58 facets that give it a bright, sparkly appearance. It is designed to maximize the amount of light that is reflected off of its surface, which helps to create its dazzling display. 

This style of cut is extremely versatile and can be used for a wide variety of gemstones, from the classic diamond to colored stones like sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. It can also be used to create a variety of shapes, from marquise to pear to oval and more. 

The brilliant cut has been popular for centuries and is a timeless choice for those looking to add a bit of sparkle to their jewelry. This cut is considered the most popular and preferred cut for gems and diamonds because it creates an eye-catching and brilliant sparkle that is sure to make any jewelry piece stand out and shine.

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The Step Cut

The second style of basic cut is the step cut,  a type of gemstone cut that is characterized by its rectangular facets and rows of cut steps. The step cut is one of the oldest and most classic gemstone cuts, with its origins dating all the way back to the 3rd century BC! 

The step cut is typically used for larger, more translucent gems such as sapphires, rubies, and emeralds, although it can also be used for smaller stones such as diamonds. The step cut is widely known for its ability to bring out the clarity and brilliance of gems, as the shape of the facets reflects light in a way that enhances the color and clarity of the stone. 

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This cut is often used for gems that have good clarity, such as those that are free of inclusions or have very few inclusions. Because of its classic design, the step cut is often used in antique jewelry and can be found in many museums and art galleries. While this cut is not as popular as other cuts, it is still admired and appreciated for its simplicity and elegance.


an engagement ring in the sand with a princess cut diamond



Mixed Cuts

Mixed cuts are a wonderful way to display your personality and a creative way to display gemstones in jewelry. By using mixed cuts, the designer is able to combine multiple shapes in one piece of jewelry to create a unique look. Mixed cuts can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical, depending on the desired effect.

Curved Facets

Curved facets are a type of cutting technique used for gemstones that creates a beautiful and unique look for the gemstone. They are typically used for round or oval shaped stones but can be used for any type of gemstone. 

These curved facets help create a more natural look and feel to the stone while also reflecting light in a much more dynamic way. This gives the stone a more eye-catching sparkle and gives it the appearance that it is much larger and brighter than it would have been with a standard faceted cut.

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These advanced cuts are created by cutting the stone in a way that creates a curved edge instead of a straight one. This technique is more complicated than a standard cut and requires more skill and experience from the lapidary to ensure the angles are cut correctly. 

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Gems that are cut like this have to be cut at a precise angle in order to ensure the stone refracts light in the best way possible. The curved cut also helps to give the stone more character and dimension when viewed from different angles.