Do you know the difference between a cabochon stone and a faceted stone? If not, you’re missing out on the rich history of jewelry making and why jewelers process some minerals in a certain way. Read on!
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What is a Cabochon Stone?
Cabochon stones are gems with a flat bottom region and dome-looking top. These gems are usually sold to the market, complete with their prominent internal characteristics or inclusions. Inclusions are imperfections visible from within a gem sample, while blemishes are imperfections at the stone’s surface level.
Cabochon stones are also opaque and fixed in a piece of jewelry with glue and a fixed bezel. Opaque gemstones are often chosen for cutting as cabochon stones, while gems with a transparent quality are not made into cabochons, but as faceted stones.
Why Are Some Gemstones Cut as Cabochon Stone?
One of the main reasons that some gemstones are cut as cabochon stones is their durability. The durability of gemstones is determined by their score on the Mohs hardness scale.
If the gemstone can easily be damaged by machine cutting and continuous polishing and refining, it is not fit for faceted cutting. Instead, it will undergo a less rigorous and less demanding process – one that produces the cabochon shape that we are all familiar with.
The second main reason the cabochon cut is more appropriate for some gems is the number of internal inclusions. Internal inclusions are disturbances in the crystallization pattern of the gemstone.
In faceted form, too many inclusions can result in the distortion of light as it is reflected or diffracted by the gem in question. To maintain the visual quality of opaque gemstones with high inclusions, they are cut as cabochons and set with bezels.
Can All Gemstone Cuts As Cabochon Shape?
While this is possible with the machine cutting technologies we have now, jewelers remain selective about which stones to cut as cabochon stones. Cabochon stones come in different shapes and sizes, and dedicated collectors find it enjoyable to explore the various subtypes of this cut to complete their collections. If you think that cabochon-cut stones are only round, think again: jewelers now create heart-shaped cabochons, oval cabochons, marquise cabochons, and even cross-shaped cabochons.
This myriad of shapes ensure that people will always be interested in this cut of gems, and frankly speaking, we think they look fantastic for increasing your fashion sense.
Cabochon stones can also be used for a wide variety of jewelry designs, from pendants, low-hanging necklaces, rings, earrings, and many more. If you are a beginning jeweler who is thinking of starting with cabochon stones and the cutting procedure itself, we encourage you to try it because there is a massive market for cabochon stones.
What is a Faceted Stone?
A faceted stone is one that has multiple faces or polished surfaces. Diamonds are cut as faceted stones, as well as valuable gemstones like rubies and sapphires. There is always a massive market for faceted stones because gemstone fire or brightness is most evident when this cut is used, and diamonds, in particular, can possess incredible clarity and vividness when examined up close after cutting and polishing.
Faceted gemstones naturally refract light that enters then before reflecting the light outward. This natural movement of the sun through faceted stones allows them to be examined up close for their internal perfection and crystalline structures. In contrast with gemstones chosen for cabochon cutting, transparent crystals are most suitable for faceted cutting for apparent reasons. Unlike cabochon stones, jewelers are more likely to use a claw-type setting to affix a faceted stone onto any jewelry article like rings and earrings. The setting method is dependent on what type of cut was used on the gemstones in the first place.
Why Are Some Gemstones Cut as Faceted Stone?
Put, diamonds, and other transparent precious stones need to shine – a lot. Their value is dependent on their visual characteristics as much as their carat weight. One of the fastest ways to achieve a prime visual effect is to cut out multiple facets to highlight how light interacts with the internal crystalline structure of the gemstone. By exposing more of what is inside, people can examine how bright or fiery a piece of a diamond is, for example. From a more practical point of view, high-value gemstones are more natural to spot when light strikes them, and the person wearing the high-value gemstones will have no trouble showing off their acquisitions.
The maximization of appearance and beauty is the top priority for faceted cutting, because why not? Diamonds and rubies come at such high prices that they need to be shown off to the world to exhibit their natural beauty. Diamonds and rubies will have less impact if they are set on earrings, for example, with domed tops, as the domed tops will mute the view from within the precious stones.
Can All Gemstones Be Cut As Faceted Shapes?
Yes, but the effect will not be the same, and the goal to maximize the beauty of a gem specimen may not work at all. For example, a piece of gem with a milky color and multiple inclusions of iron and manganese may not look as exciting or polished if the internal additions are highlighted. Thus, the cabochon shape is more appropriate in this case.
The third type of cut is called the faceted top cabochon. This is what has usually termed the rose cut and also requires the use of a fixed bezel and some gluing. What differentiates this cut from the other two is that the gemstone is made to have a flat bottom region and a flat top with a rounded body. The facets of this type of cut come together at the center of the flat top.
Faceted top cabochon gems have a subtler brightness or fire to them, and they are more likely to show the much loved “sparkle” that we associated with gemstones.