Why Some Gemstones are cut Cabochon Style Rather than Faceting?

The art of cutting the gemstones is known as lapidary. This art is quite a tough one, as a slightest mistake can damage the whole stone. As the gemstones are derived in their crude and rough state, they undergo a number of procedures to get the looks which we admire. There are a number of different cuts provided to these gems, to enhance their clarity, color, dazzle and shine. These cuts include the famous princess cut, cushion cut, emerald cut, shield cut, step cut, barion cut, cabochon and so on. The Cabochon cut is the oldest cut amongst all these types of cutting styles of gems.

When a gemstone is given a convex or rounded top shape, without any provision of facets, but a slightly round or flat base, such a cut is known as Cabochon. The convex or rounded top surface of such gem is highly polished. The most common Cabochon shape is oval, but the gems can be provided with several other shapes too, like elliptical, tear drop and many more. The name Cabochon comes from a French word ‘Caboche’, which stands for a small dome or knob. You may find many a gemstones cut in the Cabochons like Rubies, Sapphires, Emeralds, but a few gemstones are always provided with this shape only. These gems include Opal, Cat’s Eye, Star Sapphire, Moonstone, Onyx, Lapis Lazuli and Turquoise.

There might be a question that just crossed your mind, why these gems are cut in Cabochons only? This can be understood by the following description:

What is the common quality shared by all these gemstones that are provided with the Cabochon style? All of these gems, including Onyx, Lapis, Moonstone, Turquoise and Opal stones are opaque or translucent. The faceting is provided to the transparent gemstones to enhance their shine and fire by increasing their rate of internal and external reflection. When the light cannot pass through these, why to provide faceting to such gems? Hence, these gems are shaped as Cabochons, with highly polished surfaces to provide with the best possible looks.

Another reason for providing the Cabochon shape to these gemstones is because of the special phenomena they display. As Cat’s Eye display Chatoyancy, Opal displays Opalescence, Moonstone displays Adularescence and Star Sapphire displays Asterism, these phenomena can only be displayed in the Cabochon style.

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