Free shipping on orders $100 or more!

What is a cabochon?

cabochons on white background kbeau jewelry blog

Basically, a cabochon is a gemstone that has been shaped and polished. It is a very old method of cutting gems. As in, it’s what was done before faceting was developed. Traditionally, the top portion of the cabochon was smooth and domed. Though some had carvings on the top (think cameos). In modern times, a cabochon may be faceted on the top portion of the stone but the bottom is still flat. 

(I’m providing pictures so this makes more sense)

malachite cabochons white background kbeau jewelry

Technically, cabochons are not really "cut". They are shaped and then polished. It’s much easier to produce a cabochon than it is to cut a faceted gem with many faces.

The shape is often round or oval, but I’ve seen and even used other shapes.

If a gem has very good color, but isn’t transparent enough to be faceted, it can still be shaped and polished into beautiful cabochons. It’s also common to cut softer stones as cabochons since gems with a hardness score of less than 7 (on the Mohs scale) can easily be scratched by the process of faceting.

This technique is also often used for opaque stones. Certain stones are almost always cut "en cabochon", including opal, turquoise, onyx, moonstone, and star sapphire. Jewelers often use the term "cab" when referring to a cabochon.

Another fun fact: The term comes from the French caboche, meaning knob or small dome. 

Several cabochons on whaite background kbeau jewelry blog post

Also in Blog

Five Tips to Help You Level Up Your Zoom Game
Five Tips to Help You Level Up Your Zoom Game

Continue Reading

an assortment of jewelry what is rhodium blog post
What is Rhodium?

Continue Reading

three damaged rings on the jeweler's bench jewelry is not indestructible
Jewelry is Not Indestructible

Continue Reading