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Before You Buy Jewelry
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The Importance Of Gems Cut
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Primary Gem Value And Lighting
Determining And Grading Color
Authentic vs. Treated Gems
The Importance Of Gems Cut
The Importance Of Gems Cut

The last parameter for evaluating a gem has nothing to do with its own inherit properties, but there should be no confusion between the term ‘shape' and the term ‘cut' when applied to gems. ‘ Shape' refers to the face-up outline of the gem, the general form it takes. Most common is the round or oval shape, but today there is a great diversity in the market. Rectangle, triangle and pear shapes are popular now, as well as marquise, heart and even cushion shapes. Today some gem-types are even left in semi-natural state, or cut in fanciful designs. Cutting, on the other hand, is a very different story. Cutting refers to the way the gemstone is faceted. A round shape, for example, may be either faceted or cabochon cut; the dome is either smooth or angled. Shape only determines the basic outer shape of the gem, while cut determines the size of the table, the depth of the crown, the relation of crown depth to pavilion depth, the angle of each facet and the shape of the culet. Cut is so crucial it can affect price by as much as 50%.


There are three basic faceting styles that are very easily distinguished one from the other if you are holding the gem upside-down. The first is the brilliant cut , which is recognizable for having mostly three-sided facets that radiate outward. If you hold a brilliant-cut gem from the crown and look at the bottom, it will look like a start-burst design. Secondly, there is the step cut , which basically has rows of facets that are usually four-sided and elongated, like long, thin strips. If you hold the gemstone bottom-up, you will see a step-design with lines running straight and parallel to the border of the gem. Unlike the brilliant cut, there is no similarity to a star-burst and the only lines connecting between the gems center and the peripheral line are the corner facets. Third, there is the mixed cut style, which is the most common for colored gems. This style has both brilliant cut and step cut facets and it looks the most complicated from the bottom-view. You will see both the radiating star-design and long, parallel strips around the peripheral line.


A stone-cutters skill is the final ingredient in the gem-making process. Both tone and intensity can be significantly influenced by the cutting technique. It all comes down to the skill of the stone-cutter. Proportional cutting can do two very important things to a gem: First, it can deepen the tone of a gem and secondly, it can improve significantly on the ultimate hue, making it rich and vibrant. Thus the intensity will increase naturally and all the characteristics of the gem are enhanced, making it more vivid, more lustrous- and certainly more desirable. Second to color, cutting determines the final beauty of the stone. After that, as with all stones, the carat weight will determine cost.


If a gemstone has almost no hue throughout, but has atleast one deep color-spot at one of its edges, it can be cut with the dark spot at the culet point. Mounted with only a small open hole at the back, such a gem will show throughout with that color as light reflects through the culet point outward. In fact, there are many ways in which a skilled stone-cutter can utilize the best advantages inherit in the stone. It requires an understanding of the gems distribution and the various possibilities of exploiting them. If a gem has an internal layer of color, for example, an accomplished lapidary can cut it so that the colored layer sits parallel to the table surface, making the whole gem seem colored. On examining an obviously lifeless gem, with very little play of light, you can assume it has been poorly cut. If you already have a colored gem at your disposal, and it seems dreary and lackluster, don't assume it is of poor quality. It may simply be poorly cut, and still redeemable. Re-cutting it will forfeit some of its carat weight, but increase its worth a great deal.


Furthermore, a good mounting design can literally change the gems appearance. It is generally impossible to determine the color of a gem while mounted. For example, a ‘squarish', box-like setting that encloses the gem from all sides will deepen the color of the gem, as it doesn't allow light to filter through. This will immediately improve a pale gem, while such a design would be the ruin of a darker, richer hued stone. The best way to steer clear of the expected pitfalls of a bad purchase is to examine the gem you are contemplating unmounted, in several kinds of light. Watch for good color and brilliance. Gems are supposed to sparkle, some brightly and some in more mysterious, subdued lighting. Ask yourself if it too dark or too pale, and if so either turn your attention to something else, or bargain for a much cheaper price. A badly-cut gemstone that is either too dark or too light is probably unsalvageable and worthless to you. Only if the color is very good should you consider “saving” it for re-cutting.


Generally, a well-cut colored gem should display both color and brilliance throughout the stone. The topmost surface- called a ‘ window' should be as little as possible, because the bigger the window, the more light rushes through the gem and washes out the color. This is a sign of poor cutting techniques. Hold the gem by the girdle against a white piece of paper and try to see through its top surface layer to the page. If you can see printed words clearly, then the window is certainly too big. Secondly, examine the gem from a side-angle. This will tell you whether the gemstone was cut too deep or too shallow. The importance of the depth of the crown in relation to the girdle cannot be overstated. This set of proportions creates a lovely, perfect piece of gemstone or ruins it. A crown cut too deep or too shallow will not allow light through properly and the gem will have poor shape and little brilliance.




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