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Learn More About Cabochons
A cabochon is a gem or semiprecious stone rounded into an oval, semispherical, or domed shape. It’s highly polished to enrich the colors of the stone and give it a lustrous glow, unlike gems cut into facets that make them sparkle.
Cabochons enhance many different items serving many aesthetic uses. For example, a cabochon stone can serve as the centerpiece of an opulent ring or pendant, or it might be affixed to the front of a vase or another decorative piece of pottery.
Cabochons aren't just stones: Cabochons made of glass, wood, and even ceramic aren't uncommon. Here are some of the most popular types of cabochons available from the shops on Etsy:
- Opal cabochons: These prized iridescent stones shimmer and slightly shift colors as light hits them.
- Turquoise cabochons: Known for its blue-green hues, turquoise cabochons adorn many types of jewelry and are favorite embellishments for bolo ties and western belt buckles.
- Gemstone cabochons: You might see rare, expensive gems—such as emeralds and rubies—cut and polished into domed or teardrop cabochons. Cabochon-cut rare gems are used almost exclusively for jewelry, destined to be put on full display.
- Agate cabochons: The agate is a fairly common stone known for its rich variety of colors and vivid patterns such as bands, plumes, and the popular cat's eye variety.
- Glass cabochons: Rather than being cut from stone, these smooth stones are formed of molten silicon. Using dye and polishing options not available for stones, glass cabochons come in a full spectrum of colors, sizes, and shapes.
- Ceramic cabochons: Formed of porcelain or clay, ceramic cabochons frequently feature delicate designs and lustrous glazes.
Jewelers cut stones into a wide variety of cabochon shapes. In most cases, any non-faceted precious or semiprecious stone is considered a cabochon. It almost always has one rounded side and a flat surface to help it fit into jewelry settings.
These top the list of cabochon shapes jewelers use most often:
- Rounded: The stone is cut into a circular disk. One face of the disk is usually flat for easy setting. The other face may be flat or concave to give it three dimensions.
- Oval: Probably the most common cut for a cabochon, the oval cut typically has two equally rounded ends or one end that’s narrower than the other. Most opal cabochons are oval.
- Teardrop: This popular cabochon shape has a broadly rounded end that tapers into a point at the other end. It’s usually set with the pointed end facing up (away from the wearer) or sometimes toward the wearer. You'll seldom see a teardrop set sideways on a pendant or a ring.
- Sugarloaf: The sugarloaf is a shallow, four-sided pyramid with bowed sides and a flat bottom for easy setting. The rarest of cabochon shapes, it’s highly prized by jewelers and crafters.