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Cabochon vs Faceted Gemstones: Which Should You Choose?

Written by Anna Currell
March 27, 2023

One of the factors that determine a gemstone's value and appearance is the way it is cut; two of the most popular styles of gemstone cutting are faceted and cabochon. Do you know the difference? If not, you’re not alone! In this article, we'll explore how to decide between cabochon vs faceted gemstones, study the differences between these two cuts, and learn about the qualities they bring to jewelry. Let’s dive in:

Faceted Gemstones

Faceted gemstones are known for their sparkling beauty, because they are cut in an angular way designed to reflect light; think of a classic, solitaire diamond. The flat surfaces, called facets, in this cut style maximize the stone's brilliance by reflecting light through the geometric patterns. The history of faceted gemstone cutting dates back to ancient times, but it wasn't until the Renaissance that the craft of faceted cutting really took off.

One of the advantages of faceted gemstones is their versatility. They can be cut into a variety of shapes, such as round, square, emerald, marquise, and pear, to suit different aesthetics and jewelry styles. Round brilliant cut diamonds, for example, are a popular choice for traditional engagement rings, while emerald cut diamonds are often used in modern, geometric designs.


In addition to their versatility, faceted gemstones are also prized for their brilliance and sparkle. When light enters a faceted stone, it is refracted and dispersed in a way that creates a dazzling display of color. This is why faceted gemstones are often used in jewelry designs where they can really shine, such as in rings, earrings, and pendants.

Cabochon Gemstones

Cabochon gemstones, on the other hand, are known for their smooth, rounded surfaces and interesting shapes. Unlike faceted gemstones, which are cut with many flat faces, cabochon gems are cut to form a smooth, convex top and a flat or slightly curved bottom. The word cabochon comes from the French word “caboche,” which means head or dome.

Cabochon cutting has a long history that dates back to ancient times, when it was a popular technique for cutting opaque and translucent stones such as turquoise, moonstone, and opal. One of the advantages of cabochon gemstones is that they showcase a stone's existing color and texture. This makes them an ideal choice for gemstones with interesting inclusions or patterns that would be lost in a faceted cut.

Each shape has its own unique character, and cabochon gems are often used in jewelry designs that emphasize the stone’s inherent features. They are popular in statement rings, pendants, and dangling earrings, where the gemstone's natural qualities are the main focus.

Cabochon vs Faceted Gemstones: What’s the Difference?

When comparing cabochon vs faceted gemstones, the differences are quite apparent. Faceted gemstones are all about sparkle and brilliance, while cabochon gemstones focus on the natural features of the stone. Faceted cuts are ideal for transparent or translucent gems, while cabochon cuts work best for stones that are more opaque. Faceted gemstones are versatile and can be cut into a variety of shapes, while cabochon cuts are limited to a few common domed shapes.

Choosing Between Faceted and Cabochon Gemstones

When choosing between faceted and cabochon gemstones, personal preference is important; some people prefer the glimmer of a faceted gemstones, while others prefer the more subtle beauty of cabochon gems. Budget is another factor to consider, since some gemstones are more expensive to cut than others.

In terms of the pros and cons of each style of cutting, faceted gemstones are ideal for creating a classic, elegant look that's perfect for special occasions. They are versatile, so you can choose a shape and style that suits your personal taste. Cabochon gemstones, on the other hand, are better suited for creating a unique and artistic look that emphasizes the stone’s innate look. They are perfect for those who want a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry that stands out from the crowd.


Both faceted and cabochon styles of cutting have their own beautiful qualities that make them popular with jewelry designers and collectors alike. The choice ultimately comes down to your own style and preferences, and it's worth taking the time to explore both cuts to find the one that best suits your taste. Whether cabochon or faceted, if you’re excited to find a gemstone that’s perfect for you, you can work with our team of bespoke jewelry concierges to custom create your own gemstone jewelry from scratch.

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