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The Lauren B Guide to Gem Cuts

Gemstones come in all shapes and cuts. From the classic round brilliant to modern hybrid cuts, each shape and cut has a unique quality that sets it apart from the others.

Shapes vs. Cuts

First, it’s time to address the elephant in the room and the biggest source of confusion concerning cut; shape and cut are not the same. Gem shapes are characterized by their initial visual appearance. Shapes include ovals, pears, hearts, and rounds. Gem cuts have to do with the way the gemstone is, you guessed it, physically cut.


The shape of the stone is its outline. If you were to draw your ideal gemstone on a piece of paper, you would draw an oval, a heart, a circle, and so on. That is, in the most basic sense, the shape of the stone. You can think of the shape as its form.

3.23 carat Pear Shape Diamond Signature Wrap Engagement Ring

2.51 carat Heart Shape Yellow Diamond Halo Engagement Ring


Cut, in comparison, focuses on facets, polish, and symmetry. It refers to how light moves through the stone and governs things like scintillation, fire, and brilliance. Cut is the proportions of a stone and how that works with light. 

Let go of the idea that shape and cut are identical, and you’ll understand why cut is more than meets the eye. Some of the most popular cuts are radiants, cushions, and emerald step-cuts.

3.38 carat Lab Radiant Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

3 carat Cushion Cut Diamond Signature Wrap Solitaire Ring

Understanding Cut and Anatomy

A lot goes into cutting a diamond or gemstone, and it takes true precision and skill to achieve an Excellent cut. It’s perhaps the most complex of the Four Cs, and that’s partly because there are so many different aspects involved in its evaluation.

Because cut is primarily focused on creating facets, it’s responsible for shaping your stone’s anatomy, and the anatomy of a gemstone involves more pieces than most people realize! 


You’ve seen this word peppered throughout the article already. What is a facet and why does it matter? 

Facets are flat surfaces cut into the stone. They allow light to enter, acting as windows, and work to reflect and refract the light once it’s inside. Think of facets as both windows and mirrors.


The table is the largest facet. It’s located on the very top of your stone, so it’s the large, flat surface you see in a top-down view. The table lets in the majority of light, so it must be correctly sized to get the right amount of sparkle. Small table facets let in too little light, making your stone look small and dull. A too-large table prevents light from dispersing correctly and you lose sparkle. 


The girdle is the widest portion of the diamond, situated just beneath the crown. It’s typically used to hold the stone during setting. 


If you picture a diamond, you’ll likely visualize a “V” shape coming to a point at the base. The pavilion is the “V” itself. It’s responsible for reflecting light back up through the crown and has a considerable effect on brilliance. Depending on the angle of the pavilion facets and pavilion depth, a stone will either be reflective and brilliant or (in cases of poor craftsmanship) dull and gray. 


Everything above the girdle is the crown, with the table sitting at the top of the crown. A gem’s crown is its biggest window. Nearly all light enters through it, so a poorly cut stone will have too little (or too much) light and miss out on the much-coveted brilliance and sparkle. 


The culet is the bottom point or tip of the stone. The main purpose of a culet is to prevent light leaks. If you lose light through the bottom of the stone, rather than have it reflected through the crown, you’ll wind up with something dark and dull. In some cases, the culet shows up as a dark point in the stone, so it must be cut correctly. 

Types of Cuts

There are a few types of cuts you’ll commonly see. Not only do they have different numbers of facets, but use different angles to achieve their effect. If you’re searching for a particular effect, such as a stone with a high degree of sparkle, certain cuts offer that more than others. Like many other aspects of life, they each have their strengths!

Brilliant Cuts


Brilliant cut stones typically have 58 facets, with the majority on the crown, and an extreme level of sparkle compared to other cuts. Round Brilliant Cut diamonds are one of the most popular engagement rings for that very reason.



Step-cut is typically found in emerald cut and Asscher cut stones. It consists of rectangular facets arranged in a way that resembles steps or a staircase. Step cuts may not be as fiery as brilliant cuts, but their elegant “hall of mirrors” effect is a timeless, sophisticated look that will never go out of style.

Hybrid/Mixed Cuts


Mixed or hybrid-cut stones combine step cut and brilliant cut faceting. Our hybrid step-cuts feature soft corners, akin to cushion cuts, with faceting patterns that resemble a mixture of emerald cuts and radiant cuts, in an elongated rectangle shape.

Rose Cut

Rose Cut Diamonds Vs. Brilliant Cut Diamonds

Rose cut stones have a flat bottom (no pavilion) and only around 24 facets. The triangular facets are arranged to spiral like rose petals. This cut doesn’t offer much sparkle but has a high degree of luster. The flat bottom makes it appear larger than its carat weight, too. While we do not carry rose cut stones in our exclusive inventory at Lauren B, we can source stones from all over the world to match your exact preferences.

Which Shape or Cut Are You?

Cut is one of the most important aspects of any stone, but there’s certainly no wrong cut if it’s well done! Now that you know how and where cuts affect a gem, you’re better equipped to make your next selection! Schedule an appointment with one of our talented design consultants to customize your dream engagement ring, wedding band, or jewelry piece today!

About the Lauren B Team