The Rose Cut

I have a serious crush on rose cuts. But if you’ve been following any of my media for any period of time, you’ll have noticed this. There are rose cuts in two of my necklace designs, with the Ingenue being primarily based around the rose cut, they feature prominently in my Pétiller profile, and have even made an appearance in some of my custom designs. If they were easy to find, and I had unlimited funds, ALL OF THE ROSE CUTS WOULD BE MINE. Ok, so that’s not necessarily true, but I do love them, and I wish I could buy a lot more than I do.

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So the reason I’m writing about this today is because I’m a bit neurotic. Recently a client of mine bought some “hexagon rose cuts”, and she asked me why when I said they weren’t rose cuts. So this is a bit of an analysis of what a rose cut is, using the hexagon diamonds as an example of how to discern what isn’t a rose cut, and what is just a fancy marketing gimmick.

A lot of what designates a rose cut is the intent of the cutter.

Did the cutter intend for it to be traditionally cut, and the stone wasn’t shaped well? Or did the cutter actually intend to cut a rose cut?

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Facet Diagrams & Facet Structure

Rose cuts were often used as accent stones in antique jewelry. They have a simplistic cut that is a flattish dome, with triangular facets arranged in a hexagonal pattern, with a point on top. There is not a flat table facet on top of the stone, and there is no pavilion, the way Old European Cut or Modern Round Brilliants are cut. Rose cuts are typically round, but can be found in other shapes, such as pear, cushion, oval, etc.

Equiangular Hexagon

I am particularly strict in my evaluation of rose cut diamonds, and I insist that they have the equiangular triangled hexagon on top. Sometimes, especially with modern cut specialty shaped rose cuts, the hexagon will be elongated to mimic the outline of the stone.  Like this modern cut pear:

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It’s still a rose cut, but the facet structure is a clue that it’s not antique!

Lack of a Pavilion

It’s easy to get confused with terminology for rose cuts, since they don’t follow the same cutting guidelines as traditionally cut stones. I tend to think of them as a traditionally cut stone that has had the pavilion cut off at the girdle, but with a point on the table instead of the table being flat.

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One of my very first gemstones was a peach spinel that had a rose cut table and crown, but with a traditional pavilion. Sometimes I miss that stone!

Faux Rose Cuts

Now, one of my biggest pet peeves has been popping up more and more lately and that’s taking a poorly, but traditionally cut stone (with a table, pavilion, culet, etc), flipping it over so it’s culet and pavilion face up with the table facing down, and calling that a rose cut. It is not a rose cut. You can determine these stones by looking at the facet structure, and seeing whether or not it is totally flat on the flat side, if it has a crown, and if the facets are almost equiangular AND triangular. Here is a helpful diagram to help illustrate the anatomy of a traditionally cut stone can look like.

You can see a comparison between the hexagonal traditional cut on the left, and the classic rose cut on the right. I can tell a few things from the hexagonal stone about the rough  – the stone wasn’t deep enough to cut it to ideal specifications and have optimal light return when it’s table up. So in a clever marketing move, they flipped it over and marketed it as a “hexagonal rose cut”.

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With these hexagonal stones, they were not originally intended to be rose cuts, and that is obvious once you take a closer look at the pavilion facets:

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They have the equiangular center facets, but if you look closer, the facets that aren’t in the center are trapezoidal in shape, rather than triangular.

Interestingly, when I flip the stones over, and have the table/flat side up, you can see the huge difference, and clearly discern what the original intent of the cutter was. The hexagons show light return bouncing off the pavilions, minus the windowing in the middle, while the rose cut is essentially transparent:

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Double Sided Rose Cut

Double sided rose cuts are very rare, and are often given different names, depending on the knowledge of the seller or owner. As you can see from the diagrams above, they are structured as if two rose cuts were put flat side against flat side.

Rose cuts come in all different flavors, and they’ve been enjoying a sort of resurgence into popularity with celebrity interest in them as well as antique jewelry coming back into fashion. You can expect to see more from me as well, but that is mostly due to my everlasting love for them, rather than following the trends!

Side note: Thanks to Jennifer Aniston for giving the rest of us some giant rose cut goodness to ogle when she’s out and about.  (Yes, her engagement ring is a giant rose cut diamond!)

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Gemstone Cutting Flaws

Most gemstones on the market are either cut by machine or cut on rudimentary machines. As a result there are a lot of gemstones out there that have a lot of issues and in my opinion, are less beautiful.

I had mentioned in this post, Considering Gemstone Recuts, about recutting two stones for repair, and one for appearance sake. I would like to go a bit more in depth as to what these cut flaws can look like, and why they are considered flaws.

Please note that I am not a lapidary and do not have as stringent guidelines as they might for what makes a beautiful gem.

Windows

Windowing in gemstones is when the gemstone has what looks like a hole in the middle and the stone is completely see through without sparkle in the middle. What is happening here is that the facets on the pavilion of a stone is cut to such an extreme angle, so that the light goes into the gemstone, and straight back out the bottom. These facet angles on the pavilion can run almost parallel to the table of the gemstone. Here is a good example of a windowed gemstone:

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Windowing can occur two different ways, the first being when the gemstone is cut too shallow, typically to preserve a larger face up size for the stone. This cut flaw cannot typically be corrected without significant loss to the faceup size of the gem. This can also affect the value of the gemstone in a big way, losing valuable carat weight and face-up size.

The second occurs when a stone is cut at the wrong angles for the gem variety. The stone typically has a “fat belly” or “fat pavilion” or looks rounded on the bottom, more like a ball than coming to a sharp point, or culet, the way you would expect a gemstone to be cut. These stones are typically cut for weight retention. Here is the stone from my previous post that has this flaw, a silver spinel:

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A deep belly/pavilion can typically be corrected with some tweaking by a talented gem cutter.

Tilt Windows

Tilt windows can be seen in every single gemstone variety, including diamond, but are most often seen in stones that have a lower refractive index, such as tourmaline, topaz, quartz and beryl. Tilt windows can be seen when a stone is being viewed from an angle that isn’t straight on. Stones with lower refractive index will show windows more easily. Please note that all of the stones seen in the following examples are cut by talented precision lapidaries.

Tourmaline tilt window:

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Slight tilt window seen on the left side of the garnet in this picture:

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Slight tilt window in a asscher spinel:

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Extinction

Gemstones can be cut to incorrect angles to the point where they black out, or when light goes in, but does not get reflected back to the eye. This type of problem is called extinction, and is a serious flaw because if a stone looks black instead of being a nice color, what’s the point? Some gem cutters expressly cut stones so that facets take turns turning off and on, this effect would be considered being cut for contrast, rather than plain extinction.

The dark blue spinel on the bottom is showing a bit of extinction, while the stones above it (sapphire and spinel, respectively) are not.

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Half and Half Shadowing

Half and half is typically another result of less than ideal cutting, and is also a mechanism of physics. It’s a specific type of extinction, so it is a result of light going into a stone and not being reflected back to the viewer’s eye. However, this particular type of extinction is typically seen in an elongated brilliant cut stone such as cushions, radiants and ovals. When these stones are viewed North-South, the phenomenon is very visible, but when the stone is viewed East-West, it can become essentially non-existent.

The dark blue spinel (same from above) on top shows it’s dark side on the upper half.

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A purple sapphire shows some half and half darkening on the top half of this stone.

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This stone is a spinel, and you can clearly see the half and half as well as a bit of a tilt window.

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So, while none of the above are deal breakers when I look at a stone, they are still qualities to take into consideration when purchasing gemstones and looking for beautiful jewelry. Any gemstone variety can have the above cut issues, they are not limited to any one particular gem over another. One way to mostly bypass these issues is by finding a lapidary and checking out their inventory, but that is not a guarantee!