French Cut

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Left: the top view of a dodecahedron. Right: the top of a French cut
The basic design of a French cut.
Unlike the term 'German cut', which means that the stones were cut in Germany, French cut stones aren't referring to the fact that they were cut in France. It refers to their shape and design. They can be recognized by the typical cross the crown facets depict. French cut stones are square or rectangular multifaceted stones. They derived from making optimal use of dodecahedral diamond crystals.

To cut the crown of a french cut diamond one of the tops of the crystal is ground down to create a table that sits diagonal to the sides of the crystal. At this point the remaining crystal faces form natural facets that only need slight modelling to make it a symmetrical cut as can be seen in the image on the left. The outline is squared and the pavilion is cut to 4 plain facets adjusting the angle of the original faces to allow a high light return. Varieties where the facets described above are divided in half to create more facets are common.

French cut diamonds in art deco ring
French cut diamonds in art deco ring
French cut diamonds date back to the beginning of the 1400's but they came into fashion in the 17th century and have been favoured by royalty and nobility. Its name is probably derived from the fact that it was more popular in France then anywhere else. Many older diamonds have been recut to French cuts.

You may encounter the term flat-bottomed French cut. This refers to stones without a pavilion. Their crowns follow the style of the described French cut.

Sources consulted

  • Tillander, Herbert. Diamond Cuts in Historic Jewellery, London, UK, 1995 ISBN 1874044074

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A history of diamond cutting2.jpg
Lang Antiques
Lang Antiques