Crushing on Cabochon: 7 Unfaceted Jewels

There’s nothing quite like the way a faceted gemstone sparkles when the light hits it—and it’s wonderful to see the way a lapidary artist can facet a stone—but a cabochon can be just as magical.

Among a sea of diamond statement necklaces, we saw that exemplified at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards. Zoey Deutch was a vision in a 58.69 ct. star sapphire by Harry Winston, while Cynthia Erivo wore a $3 million Bulgari necklace, at its centerpiece a 40 ct. cabochon sapphire. These were two very significant looks featuring the unfaceted cut, so I think that bodes pretty well for a spiked interest in cabochon.

It is the choice of a gemstone cutter to decide whether a stone will be faceted or get the smoothed-and-polished treatment, and, often, that depends on the stone’s position on the Mohs’ scale as well as its opacity. When I was green in this industry, I viewed this as some sort of rejection of the stone—it was not deemed good enough to sparkle via faceting and so it was relegated to exist as a cabochon. Womp, womp.

JS Noor blue tourmaline cabochon ring
Ring in 18k yellow gold with blue tourmaline and 0.1 ct. t.w. diamonds, $1,250; JS Noor
Alina Abegg Saturn studs
Saturn stud earrings in 18k yellow gold with amazonite, €1,000 ($1,115); Alina Abegg

Much more experience and exposure to beautiful jewelry has proven that thought to be egregiously wrong. It’s true that a cabochon does not sparkle, but it does things that a faceted stone couldn’t come close to doing: It glows. A cabochon seems to contain a whole world of mystery and enchantment within its domed shape, a sight that can mesmerize as well as the most glittering of gems.

Ananya Nazar layer ring
Nazar layer ring in 18k white gold with 7.14 ct. sugarloaf tanzanite, white mother-of-pearl, and 0.29 ct. t.w. diamonds, price on request; Ananya

We probably take for granted how much we collectively love the cabochon cut, as it is seen so often in gems such as opal and moonstone, and so is a regular occurrence. But when a gemstone such as sapphire (which is no stranger to the cabochon form) knocks our socks off like it did on Sunday night, we’re reminded of how fantastic it is.

Anthony Lent Umba sapphire Lunar Galaxy earrings
Lunar Galaxy earrings in 18k yellow gold with natural cabochon sapphires and diamonds, $4,830; Anthony Lent
Andrea Fohrman Mini Galaxy pietersite ring
Mini Galaxy ring in 18k rose gold with blue pietersite clear quartz doublet and 0.02 ct. diamond, $2,000; Andrea Fohrman
Alex Sepkus Circle Set aquamarine ring
Circle Set ring in 18k yellow gold with aquamarine and diamonds, $4,905 (mounting only); Alex Šepkus

So here’s to seeing—and loving on—all of the cabochons we possibly can. There’s something about them that gives a piece of jewelry a little more heft, a candied appearance, as if sugary gumdrops have been frozen in form, infused with mystical powers. From opal to sapphire, emerald to tourmaline, amethyst to aquamarine—come one, come all. I want to see more, more, more!

Top: Ring in platinum and oxidized sterling silver with 2.4 ct. star sapphire and 0.25 ct. t.w. diamonds, $3,300; Alishan

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JCK Contributing Editor

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