An Introduction to Fancy Gem Cuts

You don’t need to be a jewelry expert to recognize the power of the cut – the man-made design that gives stones their shape in our favorite jewelry.

The 4 Cs of gemstones include color, carat, clarity, and cut – and the first three are all-natural. There are organic shapes to certain gems, but the cut is where jewelers add their own touch and create something worth looking at.

As with all kinds of art, we expect quality when it comes to jewelry. While everyone has their preferences, we can tell which gem cuts look better at just a glance.

If you are just learning about jewelry and gems, this guide will tell you about all the most important fancy gem cuts in the game. You’ll see just how important cutting is to the production process and which cuts look best for certain pieces.

Knowing this will help you make better decisions when building your jewelry collection and discovering what suits your personality and style. Let’s check it out.

The Art Of The Cut 

When you look at a cut diamond, ruby, or emerald, you can’t stop looking at the detail and shine. But you may not realize that jewelers craft these stones for maximum brilliance and the most appealing look possible.

What kind of tools are needed to shape these tough gems? Sawing is the most common technique to do most of the heavy lifting on raw material, and extreme caution is required to use the thin sharp blades which run at thousands of RPMs.

Jigsaws are commonly used to make primary cuts into the rough, while various sizes of circular saws are needed for finer detailing. Grinding machines are used to create the desired form of the gemstone, also known as the preform.

From there, the final shaping and sanding process will remove scratches left over from sawing and grinding. The gem cutter (also known as a lapidary) will make their final touches with superfine polishing tools and ensure there are no more flaws.

It’s a process that takes years to master, and many of us don’t even realize the laser vision and fine motor skills necessary to do this tough job.

The next time you look at a gemstone, think about just how much work went into the cut so you can enjoy the final product.

Standard Cuts You Know

When your favorite artists get on stage, you want to hear the hits. The same is true in the jewelry industry, where standard cuts are the most popular on the market today.

If you look at who’s buying the most expensive jewels, they tend to be older people who expect the traditional look from their gemstones. Nothing wrong with that – it’s just the way it is.

The biggest seller out there is the round cut, which is super versatile and looks great in classic diamond earrings and engagement rings.

They’re a little predictable, but the round cut makes us feel like the jewelry has been with us forever. If you’ve seen family heirloom jewels that stick around for a long time, they likely have that classic circular shape.

Don’t be tricked by the simple outline of the round cut, though. These stones still have many facets that are designed to reflect light in the most brilliant ways. They’re still pretty complex.

Squares and rectangles are still popular too, especially the ones that we see on many diamond necklaces and bracelets. That thick Cuban Prong Chain you’ve been eyeing is loaded with these rectangle stones that create a stunning effect side by side.

Some jewelers also consider ovals to be a standard cut, but it depends on who you ask. Generally, the more simple a cut, the more likely it is to be categorized as a standard shape.

Remember, don’t confuse the term “standard” with “boring” or “unoriginal.” These cuts are classics for a reason, and they can still be part of cool, unique jewelry.

Most Famous Fancy Cuts

Now it’s time to get into more interesting territory with the fancy gem cuts that have become more popular in recent years.

At the top of the list is the Princess Cut, which is famous for its royal background and instant visual appeal. This is a sharp-edged version of the round cut, with dozens of facets carved and polished into the face.

Princess Cut gems look great when mounted in a ring or in earrings, but they can also be placed in more distinctive arrangements to create innovative pieces. Gem cutters retain a lot of the raw material with this cut, so you’ll see some big and bold stones as a result.

Similar to the baguette is the Emerald Cut, which doesn’t always refer to the green stone. This is a rectangular cut with 50 facets arranged in a step formation, like the steps of a pyramid. Colors are enhanced by this cut, but clear crystals look phenomenal as well, and they are super popular in rings.

Next, you’ve got the Pear Cut, which looks a little like the fruit but looks more like a teardrop. Rounded on one side and pointed on the other, this eye-catching cut works for any color gem.

Light is reflected in all its glory through 71 facets and makes for a perfect pendant. When round cuts don’t make sense for massive stones, the Pear Cut is often used.

We couldn’t talk about fancy gem cuts without mentioning the classic Heart Cut, which has been around for a long time in the world of jewelry. Representing love, each of the 59 facets in this cut is crafted for maximum fire and sparkle.

When you see a Heart Cut stone on a White Gold Vermeil ring, you know it’s going to make someone very happy.

You will also see variations on the square and rectangular cuts we mentioned above, but with finer detail and more specific dimensions. The Baguette Cut, for instance, is a slimmer, elongated rectangle with 14 facets step-cut, evocative of the Art Deco era.

The Asscher Cut is another underrated fancy cut, featuring a definitive X in the middle and giving the viewer a dazzling House of Mirrors effect. You may not see this cut too often, but it holds that cult-classic appeal.

Other traditional fancy gem cuts include the Marquise Cut, which looks like a gemstone football, and the Radiant Cut, with hexagonal bezel corners.

Any Gem Can Look Great

As you can tell, there’s a lot to learn about gem cuts and what they mean, and that’s just one of the 4 Cs.

It’s no wonder why jewelers can spend their whole lives studying the subject and running businesses and still encounter new things each day.

For the casual jewelry customer, keep in mind that cut is a huge component of the overall effect of a stone. Whether it’s a high-grade diamond worth thousands or a simulant like Cubic Zirconia, the cut makes all the difference in how it presents in a ring, bracelet, or necklace.

That’s why you should always make sure thatcraftsmanshipis one of the top traits you look for when searching for a trusted jeweler, online or in person. The way the gems are cut can make or break the final product, regardless of the original rough material.

We all know someone who purchased an expensive engagement ring only to be underwhelmed by a less-than-lustrous diamond and want their money back. This is almost always an issue of cut, and you should never underestimate the power of craftsmanship.

The next time you’re in the market for some jewelry, keep a close eye on the cut to make sure you’re getting a product that will shine for as long as you live, and beyond.


That just about wraps it up for our lesson on fancy gem cuts, and there’s a lot to take in.

Hopefully, you’ve gained some insight into what goes into gem cutting, and you can talk shop with your jeweler during your next visit.

Keep these cuts and shapes in mind as you browse around and discover jewelry that brings out your best self.