Sapphires, like other gemstones, go through a process of cutting and shaping to enhance their beauty and maximize their optical properties. Here's an overview of how sapphires are typically cut and shaped:
- Planning: Before the cutting process begins, a skilled gem cutter carefully examines the rough sapphire to determine the best way to cut it. This involves considering the size, shape, and inclusions within the rough stone, as well as the desired shape and characteristics of the final gem.
- Cleaving or Sawing: In some cases, the rough sapphire may be cleaved or sawn to separate it into smaller pieces or to remove unwanted portions. This step is done with precision tools and requires careful handling to minimize any potential damage.
- Shaping: The rough sapphire is shaped into the desired form through grinding and shaping techniques. Initially, a gem cutter may use a grinding wheel with diamond abrasive particles to shape the stone roughly, creating the basic outline. This process is known as preforming.
- Faceting: Once the basic shape is achieved, the gem cutter proceeds to facet the sapphire. Faceting involves cutting precise flat surfaces, known as facets, onto the stone's surface. These facets are carefully positioned to optimize the reflection and refraction of light within the gem, enhancing its brilliance and sparkle.
- Polishing: After the facets are cut, the sapphire undergoes a polishing process to give it a smooth, reflective surface. Polishing is typically done using a series of finer abrasives, gradually refining the surfaces and achieving a high level of shine and luster.
- Final Inspection: Once the cutting and polishing are completed, the finished sapphire undergoes a thorough inspection to ensure its quality. The gem is examined for any flaws, irregularities, or imperfections that may affect its appearance or durability.
It's worth noting that sapphires can be cut and shaped into various traditional and fancy cuts, such as round, oval, cushion, emerald, pear, princess, and many others. The choice of the specific cut depends on factors such as the shape of the rough stone, the desired appearance, and the market demand for certain cuts. Skilled gem cutters utilize their expertise to bring out the best qualities of each individual sapphire through the cutting and shaping process.