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Introduction to Gemstone Cutting – A Perfect Overview

Ever wonder how all gemstones get their shape, size, shine, and brilliance? This exciting process includes taking a rough stone and turning it into a specimen ready for jewelry setting. A rough stone refers to the mineral in a raw form that has not yet been cut or polished. It is important to note a loose stone is not a rough stone–a loose stone is a stone without a mounting or setting. Loose stones are cut and polished, ready to be set.

Gemstone cutting (also called lapidary) takes incredible skill and precision–the gemstone cutter must retain the maximum amount of carat weight, diminish the appearance of inclusions or growth patterns considered as a detriment, and amplify the beauty that lies within the stone’s inherent nature and original growth formation.

This brief blog post will cover the basics of gemstone cutting. This short article is an easy-to-follow guide introducing you to the work that goes into this very specific professional artistry.

1Examining the Rough Stone

All stones and minerals come in a rough crystal form, showcasing their crystal habit and growth patterns. Upon evaluation, the gemstone cutter will be able to determine which size and shape are best suited for that stone. 

In the rough form, the stone’s beauty may not be immediately noticed. Faceting and polishing the stone brings its gorgeous properties to life, displaying its color and other notable attributes.

gemstone cutting - ruby scoop

2Planning the Cut

As mentioned above, the most amount of the stone may be saved, creating a larger carat weight for the stone. The proportions must be as symmetrical as possible, making it pleasing when set in any mounting or design.  

These symmetrical cuts are called calibrated, using standard measurements that may be set into any standard mounting. These standard cuts are expected when the mounting is designed, allowing for ease when the stone is placed into any setting.

Fantasy asymmetrical cuts are also an option if desired, making them perfect for artisan, one-of-a-kind pieces.

3Pre-shaping and Dopping

Pre-shaping refers to the stage where the gemstone cutter holds the rough gem and grinds it with a grinding lap coated with diamond dust on the outer perimeter. Diamond dust is optimal for cutting gemstones because it is hard and abrasive. The basic cut (round, rectangle, for example) of the gemstone is dependent on this process.  

The pre-shaped gemstone is attached to a metal rod referred to as a dop coated with dopping wax. 


The dop is connected to a hand faceter. This is where the magic begins! Faceting refers to cuts that add reflective cuts into the stone. Faceting is often done to semi-transparent and transparent stones, but some aggregate minerals can also be lightly faceted for a unique look.

The hand faceter is also coated with diamond dust. The gemstone cutter will determine where the facets are placed on the stone and how many. Years of expertise and precision allows the faceting process to really showcase the gemstone cutters ability combined with the beauty of the stone.

Faceting is common for popular jewelry for the masses. Diamonds are world famous for their endless variety of faceted cuts, the most popular being round brilliant. Other cuts, such as Asscher or Emerald cut, may offer a plentiful of facets offering scintillation and fire.


Polishing brings out the incredible shine and brilliance of the stone and is an important final process of the stone. The gemstone cutter uses a polishing lap, also coated with diamond dust. An experienced gemstone cutter will amplify the stone’s unique beauty, color, or fire, depending on the stone. Polishing adds life into the gem as it reflects the light during movement.

gemstone cutting - 10ctruby loupe