Behind every beautiful gemstone is a highly talented designer, but the skill of the lapidary (cutter) is often overlooked as the gem takes centre stage. The lapidary will choose the cut to show off a stone’s best features, such as its colour, clarity, size or inclusions.
Talk of the trade
The gemstone trade uses specific terminology to appraise a stone and assess its qualities. This long-standing terminology enables a stone to be described accurately without it actually being seen.
SHAPE: The outline of a stone when seen in plain view, such as round, oval or pear shape.
CUT: The proportion, symmetry, polishes and finish of a stone – in other words, its overall appearance and not its shape. Sometimes called the “make”, the cut describes the factors involved in creating a gemstone from rough material.
FACETING: A method of shaping a gem by cutting the surface into many small, flat faces (facets) at varying angles, so that light travels through the stone and makes it brilliant.
Parts of a faceted gemstone
These are the terms for the different parts of a round brilliant-cut gemstone. Their proportions will affect the brilliance, beauty and colour of the stone.
GIRDLE: The outer edge or perimeter of a gemstone, where the crown meets the pavilion. CROWN: The top portion of a stone, above the girdle.
PAVILION: The lower part of a stone, from the girdle to the culet.
TABLE: The flat surface on top of a stone; the largest facet or face.
CULET: The lowest part of the stone, which appears as a point or ridge.