Gem Cuts and Shapes: It’s a Bling Thing

1200px-Collection_of_Amethyst_GemstonesPhoto Credit: Michelle Jo via CC BY 3.0

Sparkling gems and crystals are easy to be entranced by – the way they catch the light, glittering in their setting on a ring, in a pendant or in earrings. But the shape and cut of the stones are integral to what gives them their sparkle. Here is a selection of some of the most popular gem cuts in the market today.



Perhaps the most classic cut, the brilliant round cut is a nearly (sometimes perfectly!) symmetrical circular face of the stone tapering down beneath the face into a fine point. The round cut usually has 57 facets, making it one of the most reflective shapes available. You might recognize this shape as the typical stone shape for engagement rings.


Photo Credit: Gemsphoto ( via CC BY-SA 4.0


Sometimes called an “Octagonal Shape” stone, the emerald cut gem is rectangular in shape, with a flat crowned face bordered by facets along the length of the gem’s sides and beveled corners.  Emerald cut stones can have anywhere from 50-58 facets total. Don’t let the name fool you – the emerald cut looks great with almost any stone!

princess cut

Photo Credit: TVZ Designs via CC BY 2.0


A princess cut gem has a square face with sharp, unrounded corners. The sides of the stone are similar to an inverted pyramid, with four tapering sides coming to a point at the bottom, also known as the “pavilion”. The princess cut is also a popular choice for engagement rings but dazzles in other jewelry too. Because of the high number of facets – up to 76 – this cut of stone offers more brilliance than any other traditional shape of gem. Talk about serious sparkle!


Photo Credit: Humanfeather / Michelle Jo via CC BY 3.0


One of the most difficult gem shapes to cut, the marquis cut is an elongated oval shape with finely pointed ends at the top and bottom. These pointed ends require an incredible amount of skill to create and then set the stone in a way that prevents chipping. The elongated shape of the stone is purported to visually lengthen and slim the finger of the wearer. It also has a high level of fire (another term for sparkle), thanks to its 58 facets.


Photo Credit: LesFacettes via CC BY-SA 3.0


This teardrop shaped cut is a combination of the round and marquis shapes, with a fine point on one end and a rounded opposite end. This is a classic shape that you’ll often find in pendants and earrings, although they can be stunning in rings as well. At 58 facets and some pretty powerful sparkle, there’s no wonder the pear cut has been a popular cut throughout the decades.


Photo Credit: Fancy gray violet, Oval diamond by Leibish & Co


The oval shape is a relatively new stone shape in the jewelry market. Created by Lazare Kaplan in the 1960s, this gem is a preferred stone cut for someone who likes the look of a round brilliant stone but is looking for something a little more unique. The lengthened shape also helps the stone look larger than its actual carat weight, which is ideal for a buyer with a budget. Don’t let that deter you from oval – at 58 facets the oval shape holds its own among other popular cuts.


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