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Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/Shapes of Rings & Diamonds


QUESTION: I was wondering what shape diamonds come in before they are cut typically? Are they pretty close to what they will become hence why those particular ones are choosen? And are the shapes they are cut into standardized somewhere? Like is there a book that contains most of the shapes a diamond and other jewels have ever been cut into? And as for wedding rings, same question?

ANSWER: Hi, James.

Yes, you are partially correct in thinking the shape of the rough material has something to do with the cut of the gemstone from that particular piece of rough.  Look at the photos of rough diamonds at the following website. These are better than often seen on the net for “rough diamonds” and if you think of the shapes of cut gems you might imagine what a particular shape might yield:

Rough Diamond Shapes

However, there is more to shape to determine what diamond may be cut from a particular chunk or crystal of rough diamond fresh from the earth.  Diamond ideally forms in the cubic crystal form.  There is one shown close to that in the photos. Think of two pyramids, with one turned upside down and another on top of that.  It looks like a pyramid with its mirror image below.  It is easy to imaging this crystal shape being cut into a round diamond.  In fact, such diamond forms when clean inside will be cut into “standard American brilliant “ cut.  This is the standard cut for a round diamond and has been around a while. Cutting styles developed over time to give more ideal proportions for sparkle and diameter vs depth.  The “ideal cut” is another name for the standard brilliant cut.  Search the web for predecessors of the modern cut by looking for “old mine cut” then what came next, the European cut.  At each stage the cutting is getting closer to the modern ideal cut seen commonly today.

The idea with gem cutting is to get the most yield from a piece of rough crystal. That simply means, get the largest or nicest stone you can from the material.  Since flaws may be in the crystal, the best quality gem may much smaller than the rough with flaws avoided and only the best part cut.  Scrap cut-offs when left from the process may be cut into smaller stones of various qualities.

A piece of rough is examined and the cutter decides what cut will give the best yield from the rough, in size and or quality.  As you can see from the rough on the website given, different shapes are possible.  The general shapes are round, emerald cut(or more brilliant variations such as the radiant cut), marquise, square, cushion(round corners in emerald cut shape), pear.

Go to a diamond sellers to see the general cuts available today. One example is:

At upper left is a drop down menu of diamond shapes.   The shapes are generally standard shapes but in better gems each is cut to the size allowed by the crystal and the quality of the crystal.  Most diamonds are close to particular sizes by measure but not exact because the cutter strives to get the best and the most from the crystal.  Part of the measure of the quality of a diamond is shape accuracy, including proper depth and form to give the best appearance.  Some are cut thinly and though less carat weight than another stone of the same diameter, the thin cut stone will appear the same size from a top view.  Look again at the old mine cut and see how thick that cut was.  The diamond looked smaller than a modern cut of the same carat weight.  Always remember carat is a weight, not a measure of diameter.  

There are specialized books of gemstone cuts and there may be a chart or two on the net. I suggest a google search for something like "chart of gemstone cuts", "gemstone cuts", etc.

Seeing the actual gems is better than a chart, if the photos are done very well and show details of edges, etc.

James, it is too much for one answer to go into a history of wedding rings and to do so I would have to do the same as you: Search the net.  That is not my area of expertise. I primarily did the actual making of jewelry and stone setting. I have also cut many gemstones but not diamonds since that is not a business for an individual but for a dedicated business operation.

Look at the rough crystals. Some might be too thin and must be cut into several smaller gems to provide stone with suitable depth. Some are flawed in one area or another and some have a peculiar growth pattern preventing a nice polished surface.  Each piece of rough is examined and then the fate or direction of cut is determined by an experienced grader and cutter.

Certainly many famous specialty cuts have been done.  When an exceptional rough stone is found, it may go to a very highly regarded cutter to study the gem and determine a cut for the rough, a cut which may be unlike standard cuts.

Best wishes on your learning on diamonds. The subject is fascinating.

God Bless and Peace.  Thomas.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: That was a long response. Was some of it cut and pasted as others might have asked the same question before? lol. I was wondering if certain cuts have certain symbolism to people, or if there is a limited range of cuts that are suitable for wedding rings? Lately I have been interested in 3D printing and was thinking it might be interesting to make a plastic replica of a wedding ring in the shape that looks good using both opaque and clear plastic. It might also be kind of pricy since the printing technology is far from commercial. I was wondering if there are artificial ways of creating diamonds? As I understand it cubic zirconia are .8 of 1.0 hardness, tend to be a more pure white but also conduct electricity unlike a real diamond, and generally cost 1/10 as much. Do you know if they make diamonds that in more sense of physical characteristics is a real diamond?

Dear James,

None of the answer was pasted from previous answers. I found out many hundred questions ago to be specific on a particular answer required too much searching of previous answers and far longer time than answering directly. Your answer is right from me, directly. Lol back to you!

As far as certain cuts having symbolism, that is an individual preference and a lady generally bases her choice on perceived beauty and influence of magazine advertisements.  Trends in popularity happen in sections of time and an entire group of purchasers will be wanting a particular cut and a style of tine. I do not believe it is so much of a symbolic meaning as a personal interpretation of what a trend dictates to the current taste.

I am familiar with 3D printing in the production of wax models for casting of jewelry.  The original is designed and assigned its  production program in a cad/cam software. The "cam" in this case is 3D printing and not machining.

Synthetic diamonds are produced by abundance in Russia, by GE in the USA and by a few other companies. The word "synthetic" means replication of the character, crystal structure and chemical composition of the natural item. A CZ on the other hand is a simulated diamond, a fake made from another material to simulate some character of the natural gem. The same is true of many simulated gems such as emeralds made of other chemical components. AT the same time, companies such as Chatham make excellent true synthetic emeralds and opals, made in a process similar to nature but lab grown.

Check out synthetic diamond and you will find a wealth of information.  This has been going on for many years, getting better all along.  You can even have your deceased body made into a small diamond today, a step beyond cremation.

The 3D printing of the ring with stone would be interesting, if you could somehow pull off getting the stone to transmit and reflect light. Perhaps, the plastic gem would need to be done by itself then placed into your replica ring.

Thanks for the question.  I am fairly certain this is the first going ultimately in this direction.

The relative hardness difference of the MOHS scale is not an absolute hardness comparison. In fact, there is a multitude of hardness value between number 10, diamond, and the next mineral at number 9.  The difference between 10 and 9 is greater by a large extent than from numbers 1 to 9.  CZ is also much, much, much less than 1/10 the cost of a diamond of a size where cutting costs are not a true factor in value anymore.

That is about all I feel qualified to say. God Bless and Peace, again.  Thomas.

God Bless and Peace.  Thomas.  

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Have a question about jewelry repair or working with precious metal jewelry and gemstones? For many years up to December 31, 2010, I was a working professional bench jeweler, involved everyday with setting stones in mountings, designing and making jewelry, repairing and limited custom manufacture. If you work with jewelry as a hobby or as a profession, I might be able to help. I deal with the retail business, not mass production. Ask privately if you wish. See the box for that: It keeps your question between us. Please DO NOT ask MAKER'S MARKS, but metal quality marks are fine to ask. Please DO NOT ask diamond prices. See a gemologist for that.


I have extensive experience in design, service and making of jewelry. I deal mostly with precious metals and gemstones but work with many materials as needed and usable to create an artistic design. My experience also includes freelance photography and photographer of jewelry and similar items for a former employer and individuals. Design of custom items requires reading the desires of the client and being clear on what can be done within that framework...then fulfilling the transition of idea to reality. Effective communications is essential in a working designer/producer and customer relationship.

Education is English/Physics! Started in human resources, to advertising, to, what a road. I have had formal training in jewelry work and many shared experiences with top grade jewelers. We just never know were we will go or be. Follow your best, your dreams, with some discretion! Don't let the work tear up your body along the way as it has mine.

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