If you're like most people, shopping for jewelry can be a little overwhelming. This is especially the case if you're looking for a major piece of jewelry such as an aquamarine and diamond engagement ring. Before reaching the jewelry case, however, an aquamarine must be cut.
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Whether a piece of rough aquamarine is lab-created or mined from the earth, cutting is essentially the same procedure. About the only difference is the need to remove dirt and other debris from mined stones before the rest of the process begins.
Faceting an aquamarine gemstone is a careful process.
- First, a piece of rough aquamarine is shaped into a preform. This is the basic shape of the finished gem.
- Then, the gem cutter attaches the preform onto a stick (called a dop). After the adhesive hardens, the gem cutter inserts this assembly into a gem cutting machine. Facets are cut one by one, with the use of a diamond-coated lapidary wheel.
- Slowly, the finished stone takes its shape, with the bottom facets usually being cut first.
- Then, the lapidary will flip the stone over, and repeat the process with the top (pavilion) facets, then the girdle, which is the middle of the stone. As the top, bottom and girdle are finished, each facet is polished to a high shine.
- Once all facets are sparkling, the stone is removed and set into aquamarine jewelry.
Types of Aquamarine Cuts
Like most other gemstones, aquamarine stone can be fashioned into a wide variety of finished gems. Here are the different types of cuts found in aquamarine jewelry.
If you're familiar with the emerald shape, then you should know this is the most popular step cut. This type of faceted gem is characterized by facets that are rectangular or square. Facets are usually parallel to each other, as well.
Usually, a step cut is chosen when the gem cutter wants to show off saturated aquamarine color, and the rough has few to no inclusions. That's because step cuts enhance color while allowing inclusions to be easily visible. There are several shapes of step cut:
This is the classic rectangle that was popularized by its use with emeralds. Often, these are used for making yellow gold aquamarine rings.
Also rectangular, but longer and skinnier. These are rarely used for center stones in an aquamarine and diamond ring, but might be used for the accent stones.
Essentially a square version of the emerald cut, with all the sides the same length. Absolutely stunning as an aquamarine solitaire ring, because the shape is so versatile.
When most people think of a classic engagement ring, the round brilliant comes to mind. Brilliant cuts are the ones with kite and triangle-shaped facets. More modern versions include hearts and arrow round cuts. Brilliant cut gems have a deep base, with the facets coming to a point at the bottom.
Generally, brilliant cuts are intended to reflect light from the bottom of the stone and send it back to the eye of the viewer. For gem cutters, the brilliant cut is an excellent way to “hide” inclusions in the facets and make them less obvious. On the other hand, these cuts might not enhance the color as much as the step cuts. Brilliant cuts come in several varieties:
If you're looking for a classic aquamarine and diamond engagement ring, this is a good choice. The round shape means there are no sharp edges that can chip off over time, and it's easy to set diamonds in the same ring.
Just what it says in terms of shape, oval aquamarine stones look larger than they are. For that reason, they're an excellent choice for an aquamarine solitaire ring or earrings.
Like the square shape but not the strict lines of an asscher? Cushion cuts are a brilliant, almost-square shape. The difference is that the four corners are rounded, meaning that a cushion cut aquamarine ring is easy to wear every day.
There are some other shapes available. The marquise cut is a pointed oval, while heart shaped stones are lovely as an aquamarine promise ring. Pear cuts are fashionable right now. Lastly, the princess cut is a sharp-cornered version of the cushion.
Other Types of Cuts
There's also another option for turning aquamarine stone raw into jewelry: non-faceted gem cutting. Most familiar to the majority of readers are cabochons. These are domed, polished pieces of aquamarine, most commonly found as ovals or round shapes. Round, pear, kite, and rectangular cabochons are also available. Usually, this technique is chosen when a piece of aquamarine rough is fairly opaque, and it produces lovely aquamarine gemstone.
Lastly, let's talk about the mixed cut. Mixed cuts are a blend of various cutting techniques, and do not depend on the confines of tradition. Also called the fantasy cut, mixed cuts can include facets from the brilliant and step-cut families, but they also can involve cabochon techniques. Their main use is collector's pieces, and to show off the skill of the cutter.
What to Know Before Buying an Aquamarine
Besides the cut and aquamarine stone price, there are a few things to consider. For example, there are several different qualities of aquamarine available. At With Clarity, we sell AAA quality gemstones. These are slightly less than the finest quality, but that's because we want them to be affordable to our customers. With that said, the difference between them and the best is twofold:
- They might have more inclusions under magnification than their “perfect” counterparts.
- They are probably heat treated.
Heat treatment is a totally natural way to enhance both the clarity and color of aquamarine. It removes any greenish tint in the stone and makes the blue color darker. In addition, heating removes many of the inclusions. Moreover, it is a permanent treatment that won't fade over time. We hand select all the gemstones that go into our jewelry with extra care taken to ensure that the jewelry is high quality, and will stay beautiful for a lifetime.
How is an aquamarine cut?
What are the different types of cuts in an aquamarine?
What to keep in mind before buying an aquamarine?
How does heat treatment help an aquamarine?