Choosing the Perfect Gemstone Cut - Brilliant, Rose, Step, Portrait, Etc.

When choosing a center stone for a custom engagement ring, not only do you have to choose a gemstone type and shape, but you should also be aware of the varieties of cuts available. We carry a wide variety of shapes like round, kite, oval, pear, shield, etc. but these stones also come in a variety of cut types like rose, antique, cabochon, fantasy, brilliant, portrait, step, or double cuts. Here are eight gemstone cut varieties you should consider:

Brilliant Cut

Ah, the brilliant cut - you may think of this cut when thinking about the “classic” diamond shape. This fairly modern cut is so popular for good reason - it maximizes sparkle within a stone! It is made up of many facets that radiate from a center point. All the facets cause light to bounce around within the stone, meaning this cut will give it a brighter and more sparkly appearance. Oftentimes a brilliant cut stone will be quite deep, meaning it will need to be set in a higher profile ring design that sits up off the finger more. This cut also works best for higher clarity stones - a heavily included salt and pepper diamond will not bounce light the same way a high clarity traditional diamond would. While most people think of a round brilliant stone, brilliant cuts are also done on oval, half-moon, trillion, and other stone shapes.


Step Cut

Rather than having many facets that meet at a center point like the brilliant cut, the step cut features facets that run parallel to the girdle of the stone in rows or steps. This type of faceting creates a “hall of mirrors” effect that is truly mesmerizing, while also showcasing a stone's clarity. The most common step cuts are emerald cuts, asscher cuts, and baguette cuts.



A rosecut stone has a flat bottom with a domed top featuring many facets that resemble a rose bud. This cut has been used in jewelry since the 16th century but was especially popular during the Georgian period (18th-19th century). This cut style maximizes surface area to best showcase a stone’s luster and shine. We carry many rose cut salt & pepper diamonds because these stones have low clarity, so the rose cut better shows off the luster that diamonds showcase. Today, the brilliant cut is more popular than the rosecut, but rosecut is still an amazing way to add a unique touch to a ring or give a ring a more vintage feel. Plus, rosecut stones come in just about any shape from round, oval, pear, marquise, and even coffin!

Double Cut

A double cut stone has no right-side-up. Instead, both sides of a double cut stone are faceted in a way that allows it to be set either direction. Typically one side of the stone features a domed rosecut, while the other has a flat “table.” Neither way is considered the correct top or bottom, it is entirely up to the wearer how they want the stone set. When ordering a ring with a double cut stone, we ask that you specify in the Custom Requests box whether you would like the stone set “table up” or “table down.” The stone we carry the most double cuts in is salt and pepper diamonds, and we carry double cuts in just about any shape. Double cut stones are often less deep than say a brilliant cut, meaning they’re a good option if you are looking for an engagement ring with a low-profile.

Shown above as table down


Shown above as table up

Antique Cut

The way stones are faceted today is different than they were even a hundred years ago. Today’s brilliant cut stones are a product of modern technology that allows for more precise cutting methods. However, in the past stones were faceted by hand, and therefore were cut with chunkier facets and an open culet that makes these stones shine beautifully in candlelight. We offer both antique diamonds featuring antique cuts as well as modern cut diamonds that have been cut with an antique cut. This cut is typically seen in diamonds, like our “Lottie” Mine Stone, which is an antique stone featuring a French cut. Antique cut stones are typically round, oval, and cushion shapes.

Cabochon Cut

The cabochon is one of the oldest methods of stone cutting. Cabochons feature a flat bottom with a polished domed top without any facets. Cabochon cuts are typically used for stones that are opaque or showcase asterism. Opal, turquoise, jade, and moonstone are all frequently cut into cabochons to best showcase their color. Star sapphires or other cat’s eye gemstones are almost always cut into a cabochon, as the “star” or asterism in these stones only shows when cut into a cabochon. Cabochons are typically round or oval, but can also come in many other shapes as well including heart, hexagon, marquise, pear, etc.

Portrait Cut

The portrait cut is another antique faceting method where a stone is cut into a very thin, glass-like sheet with very minimal faceting on the edges. The lack of facets in these stones gives them a translucent appearance, which opens up a world of unique design possibilities. For example, a picture or design in the metal-work of a ring could be showcased under a glassy portrait cut stone. In addition, these stones sit very low on the finger because they are so thin, making them a great option for anyone looking for a very low-profile engagement ring. Portrait cuts are typically seen in more durable stones like diamonds and sapphires, because the thin-nature of portrait cut stones could make them more fragile with a less durable stone. Portrait cuts are often in hexagon, oval, shield, or asymmetrical shapes.

Fantasy Cut

Want a unicorn of a center stone for your custom ring? Fantasy cuts are an amazing way to choose a truly unique center stone. Fantasy cuts are stones that are typically cut by independent lapidary artists like Larry Woods or John Dyer. They have a more artistic flair and sometimes even feature images. One of our favorite fantasy cuts is the medicine wheel cut by American lapidarist Larry Woods. These cuts often look like snowflakes, flowers, rays of light, etc. and add a one-of-a-kind flair to custom rings. They come in many stone shapes including hexagon, round, oval, cushion, etc. 

Designing a Custom Wedding Ring

We pride ourselves in offering a large variety of unique gemstone types, shapes, and cuts. No matter what stone you’re looking for, we’re sure to have something you absolutely love - from moissanite, Montana sapphire, salt and pepper diamond, moss agate, garnet, to Oregon sunstone, and so much more. Start with a stone from the Staghead Mine, choose from our collections of customizable rings, or contact our design team to start designing your dream wedding rings today!