Fancy Gem Cuts: Glyptic & Fantasy Cuts (Fantasieschliffe)
When a cutter selects a particular gemstone cut there is usually a practical reason for the decision (yield, color zoning, rough gem shape, etc.), although sometimes it is simply a preference for style. Additionally, each gem variety lends itself to certain types of gem cuts based on its durability, color, and crystalline structure.
In diamonds, asymmetrical rough crystals such as macles are usually unsuitable for symmetrical cuts such as the modern round brilliant, and lend themselves to a "fancy cut" style. These fancy gem cuts can follow the best attributes of the rough stone while eliminating or avoiding cleavage planes, internal flaws, and inclusions.
Popular fancy diamond cuts include the "Baguette" (bread loaf), "Marquise" or "Navette" (little boat), "Princess Cut" aka Square Brilliant Cut, "Heart", "Briolette" (a form of Rose cut), Pear (teardrop), and the Trillion which is triangular in shape.
For bicolored gemstones that have distinct color transitions such as tourmaline or ametrine it may be beneficial to utilize an elongated fancy cut such as an emerald, baguette, navette, or fantasy cut.
Concave gem faceting cuts are a relatively new trend on the gem-cutting scene (amethyst - above, left). Invented by Doug Hoffman in the early 1990s, the technique was perfected by American gem-cutter Richard Homer. The unique conical-shaped faceting creates a high amount of brilliance by refracting and dispersing more incident light than a conventional gem facet cut.
Cross Cuts, French Cuts, & Step Cuts
An emerald cut, as shown in the diagram at the top of the page (upper, left), is a modified step cut with the corners cut at a diagonal angle. With a step-cut, the crown, pavilion, and the table are all cut in rectangular facets. This type of step-cut does not produce much brilliance, but it is an effective cut for showcasing a stone's color attributes (as with emeralds).
Popular variations of the step-cut are the Scissor-Cut or Cross-Cut, Baguette Cut, and the French-Cut (above, center). These cuts add slightly more brilliance to the stone a dark stone, and are good for concealing internal flaws. The french cut is also used on very small stones where a brilliant cut would not be practical.
The "navette-cut" or marquise cut (shown in simplified form - above, center) is a popular choice for colored stones such as topaz, citrine, amethyst, and aquamarine. The navette cut may have been the creation of King Louis XV of France, who was so taken with the delicate shape of his courtesan's (Marchioness Madame de Pompadour, below, right) mouth that he commissioned his court jeweler to create a gem cut in its likeness.
Composit Gemstone Cuts
Composit gemstones are created by bonding two or more materials together to form one gemstone. When the final gem is made of two different materials it is called a "doublet," and when made with three, a "triplet." Common doublet or triplet gemstones are emerald and Opal, usually combined with quartz or glass. Compositing is used to improve color and add durability. In faceted composite stones, the crown would be the natural material.
So far, the consistent theme in all of these fancy cuts is their symmetry. As a fancy gem cut takes on a more asymmetrical shape, such as the Isosceles Triangle Cut citrine above (left, with trillion diamond), it would be labled as a "fantasy cut."
Fantasy Cuts (Fantasieschliffe)
There is also a new addition to the gem cutting universe: the "fantasy cut" or fantasieschliffe. There is probably no person who is more famous at this relatively new art form than the German stone cutter Bernd Munsteiner. The Munsteiner family (Bernd, Tom and Jutta) at Atelier Munsteiner have been pushing the boundaries of stone cutting to their limits with their endlessly imaginative shapes and forms.
A somewhat softer, more organic variation of the Munsteiner family's Fantasieschliffe cuts are the "Glyptic Illusions" sculptured gemstones cut from Bart Curren. Bart, also known for his digital photography of gemstones, lives and works in Washington State, USA.
Although modern saws, grinders and polishers are used to create these fantasy cuts, this type of stone cutting brings back the lost art of "hand-cut" craftsmanship. Although the only limit to the design is the cutter's imagination, an intimate knowledge of a mineral's cleavage and optical or refractive properties in necessary to get the most out of a stone's natural beauty.
Gem Cutting Technology, Equipment & Techniques
Patented Signature Diamond Cuts
Bibliography on Fancy Diamond Cuts
1. Wilhelm Lindemann (ED.), Bernd Munsteiner: Reflexionen in Stein . Arnoldsche Art Publishers
2. ConcaveFaceting, Concave Faceting Techniques
3. Rock Hounds, Faceting By Hand
4. FacetingMachines.com, Faceting Machines & How-To Tips
5. PrettyRock.com, Step-by-Step Gem Cutting Instructions
6. Gemstone Artists, The Gem Cutting Process
7. Gem Society, Fundamentals of Lapidary Faceting
8. US Faceters Guild, Faceting Diagrams & Gemstone Designs
9. Glyptic Illusions, Sculptured Gemstones by Bart Curren