What is Cabochon? – Gemstone Cuts Explained by the Experts

Cabochon cut opal ring

What does Cabochon mean?

A cabochon is a style of polished gemstone, cut and polished into a round or oval shape. This is in contrast to faceting the gemstone. Opposite to enhancing sparkle, Cabochons captivate by enhancing colour, reflection or translucence over a domed surface.  The dictionary definition describes a precious stone of convex hemispherical or oval form polished but not cut into facets.

Cabochon example created from a citrine stone with pave set diamonds.
Citrine cabochon gemstone, shown here set into a Citrine and diamond ring, one of our special ‘Next Day’ offers.

 

What is a Cabochon gemstone?

The term Cabochon features regularly in jewellery. Many people are uncertain of the meaning and how Cabochon is pronounced (Kab-Uh-Shon.) For this reason, we’ve put together a few words, keeping things simple. Hopefully, this will give a little insight into this beautiful cut of the gemstone.

Types of Cabochon Gemstones

Domed gemstone cuts are typically found among a range of coloured gemstones. This is not a typical cut for a diamond since the true beauty of a diamond becomes exposed by careful faceting of the surface to work with finely balanced proportions. Cabochon cuts can range in-depth and proportions. The outer curved surface can range from a flat slab-like structure to a very high domed bullet-like shape. Although flat bases give a more convenient way of setting this gemstone cut, bases can be rounded, often to yield a greater density of lighter gemstones. Cabochon cuts work beautifully in transparent, opaque and semi-opaque gemstones, producing an altogether unique variation to the flash of light created by faceting the gemstone.

Opal and old cut diamond remodelled cluster ring with Cabochon Opal

Cabochon Opal and diamond ring, re-modelled from an heirloom ring. 

Descriptive Names for Cabochons

There are many descriptive names for Cabochons. Low Dome, High Dome, Cone, Bullet, Double Bevel, Hollow / Carbuncle, Double, Flat Cut / Slab and Buff Top are all variations of this style of cut.

Cabochon gemstones in history

This cut of a diamond has been found across jewellery dating back to the Ming Dynasty and across other ancient culture, including examples from the ancient civilisation of Egypt. Polishing such stones as Sapphire, Emeralds and Rubies, provided deep pools of vibrant colour to the jewellery of Royalty, such as those seen on the Crown of Ottonian Empress Kunigunde, from Germany featuring raised Cabochons set on arcaded panels.

What about cabochon diamonds?

Dome polished diamonds don’t tend to exist for a very specific reason. The allure of diamonds comes from the refractive and reflective qualities of diamonds. Such qualities are enhanced through shaping the diamond. Specific proportions and faceting styles result in the sparkle that diamonds are famous for. The cabochon shape would destroy all such life from the diamond. Coloured gemstones lend themselves well to the cabochon style owing to their depth of colour.

Mark Johnson

About Mark Johnson

Mark attended Liverpool University and went on to pursue a career in the diamond industry. After more than a decade working in polished diamonds, Mark moved to the Isle of Wight where he launched Serendipity Diamonds. He works most days from their busy Ryde showroom, photographing jewellery and writing for the Serendipity Diamonds website. Anyone interested can connect with Mark on Linkedin via the profile link.

Mark Johnson

About Mark Johnson

Mark attended Liverpool University and went on to pursue a career in the diamond industry. After more than a decade working in polished diamonds, Mark moved to the Isle of Wight where he launched Serendipity Diamonds. He works most days from their busy Ryde showroom, photographing jewellery and writing for the Serendipity Diamonds website. Anyone interested can connect with Mark on Linkedin via the profile link.