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Cabochon Gemstones

What is a Cabochon Gemstone?

A cabochon is a gemstone which has been polished into a domed shape with a flat bottom. The name cabochon comes from the French word, 'caboche' which means knob, head or small dome. Before the technique of faceting gemstones evolved, pretty much all gemstones were cabochons.

Are there different types of Cabochon Gemstones?

Cabochons have rounded tops and flat bottoms but within these limits there are quite a few variations. The simplest differences are in the height of the dome with some gemstones having a flatter style with a shallow dome and others having a high or deeper dome.

Other terms used can include:

  • Bullet Cabochon - tall cabochon that resembles a bullet
  • Hollow Cabochon - the bottom of the cabochon is concave
  • Flat Cut Cabochon - a very low dome
  • Double Cabochon - has a dome shape at the bottom of the gemstone as well as the top
  • Reverse Cabochon - a regular cabochon shape but with concave impression at the top

In addition, there is what we sometimes called mixed-cut gemstones which have a combination of facet and cabochon styles. For example the buff-top has a domed cabochon top but a faceted lower half or pavilion. In reverse, we have the rose-cut which has flat unfaceted bottom and a simply faceted domed top - often used for black spinels and tourmalines.

What Cabochon Gemstone shapes are available?

The vast majority of cabochon gemstones have oval or elliptical shapes. This shape is very popular as it is well-suited to pendants, brooches, necklaces and earrings and also because minor imbalances are not easily detected in oval shapes.

Round shapes are also very popular - especially for rings - as well as pear, cushion, square and baguettes.

Certain gemstones such as ammolites, fire agates, rutile quartzes and boulder opals are often found in irregular or fancy shapes to maximize the splashes of color that can be found on the surface.

What is Cabochon Gemstone clarity?

Gemstones that are opaque or translucent tend to be cut as cabochons.

Cabochons feature highly polished domes which emphasize the depth of color or display visual phenomena such as star effects, cat's eyes, play-of-color and iridescence rather than clarity.

The smooth domes are also a much better surface to reveal a gemstone's luster, fascinating patterns or intriguing inclusions.

Which gem types are available as Cabochon Gemstones?

There are a several types of gemstones which are nearly always cut or shaped into cabochons.

First, there are single colored gemstones which are either opaque or at best translucent. They look much better as cabochons than faceted gemstones:

  • Green Agate
  • Orange Agate
  • Carnelian
  • Chalcedony
  • Chrysoprase
  • Turquoise

Some top grade gemstones which are usually famed for their clarity and color can also be found with the same rich hues but in semitransparent versions which look fantastic as cabochons:

  • Amethyst
  • Citrine
  • Emerald
  • Garnet
  • Morganite
  • Ruby
  • Sapphire
  • Tourmaline

Then we have opaque gemstones that are notable for their interesting swirls, colorful patches and wavy lines which can only look good as cabochons:

  • Amazonite
  • Jasper
  • Pietersite
  • Rhodochrosite
  • Tiger's Eye

There are also a number of cabochon gemstones which exhibit a variety of optical phenomena:

  • Asterism - Star Sapphire, Star Ruby, Star Diopside
  • Chatoyancy - Cat's Eye Scapolite, Cat's Eye Aquamarine, Cat's Eye Apatite
  • Iridescence - Opals, Ammolite, Spectrolite

Gemstones are rated for their hardness with the most durable being the diamond at 10 out of 10. Some gemstones considered 'soft' are cut as cabochons to avoid edges and corners that can be chipped or planes than can become dull over time.

  • Apatite
  • Fluorite
  • Calcite
  • Sphene

What Colors are available as Cabochon Gemstones?

Gemstone cabochons can be found in every color possible in the mineral kingdom, in fact part of the reason for the continuing popularity of cabochons is the way they can really show off the depth of color in a way that faceted gemstones occasionally cannot.

Rich reds, deep purples, vivid violets, bright blues and fiery oranges look particularly good as cabochons.

How much are Cabochon Gemstones?

In general, cabochon gemstones are less expensive than faceted gemstones. There are a number of reasons for this.

Firstly the most common gemstones used for cabochons are opaque and they are less expensive than clear colored stones. Top grade gemstones that are less than 'eye-clean' may not be valued as high as flawless gems but make beautiful cabochons.

In addition, the physical work involved in shaping and polishing a cabochon is less time consuming and technically skilled than a faceted gemstone and there tends to be a lot less wasted material, too.

There are a few exceptions, of course, with boulder opals and ammolite gemstones being amongst the most valuable examples.

Cabochon Gemstone Treatments

By their very nature as simply shaped and polished, cabochon gemstones are less likely to be treated than faceted gemstones. Gemstones often undergo processes such as heat or irradiation to improve clarity and color but as cabochons are usually opaque or translucent this is not such an important issue.

Similarly, the cat's eye and star effect cabochons are not enhanced by any treatment, in fact quite the opposite is true.

Some cabochons can be dyed or fracture filled and opals and ammolites, for example, can be assembled or mounted onto supportive backings for stability.

We will always disclose any cabochon gemstone treatments clearly on our product pages.

What are the spiritual benefits of Cabochon Gemstones?

Cabochons will have all the spiritual benefits of whichever gemstone they happen to be - please take a look at our articles on gemstone healing for more information:

Gemstone Healing

The cabochon shape does give these gemstones a much more tactile spiritual connection - they feel so much better in your hand than a faceted stone - when used as a touchstone, meditation aid or for placing on the body for Chakra healing.

Find more details on Chakra gemstones here

Are there any famous Cabochon Gemstones?

Yes, for hundreds of years all gemstones were cabochons, so some of the most famous items of jewelry from history were made from cabochon gemstones, including:

  • Black Prince's Ruby - actually a red spinel, part of the Crown Jewels of England
  • The Virgin Rainbow - world's most expensive opal
  • The Neelanjali Star Ruby - A 12 point double star weighing 1370 carats.
  • Henckel von Donnersmarck's Emerald and Diamond Tiara - A tiara made of 11 Colombian emerald pear-shaped drops
  • Black Star of Queensland - the largest gem-quality star sapphire in the world at 733 carats.
  • The Star of Asia - A famous light blue 330 carat Burmese sapphire beauty.
  • The Star of India - A flawless 563 carat blue star sapphire with a double sided star.

What jewelry are Cabochon Gemstones suitable for?

Cabochon gemstones can be used in all types of jewelry from rings and bracelets to necklaces and brooches and can make especially eye-catching pendants and earrings.

With their very traditional look, cabochons gemstones are great for retro, tribal, bohemian and men's jewelry.

How to use Cabochon Gemstones

Cabochon gemstones can be used in just the same way as any type of gemstone:

  • Jewelry
  • Crystal Healing
  • Home Decoration
  • Chakra Balancing
  • Positive Energy

Tips for Filtering and Searching for Cabochon Gems at GemSelect

To find your perfect cabochon gemstones, use the filters at the top or on the left-hand side of our web page. You can search cabochons by gem type, color, carat weight, actual size, price and other factors to help you to find just the right cabochon gemstone that you are looking for.

All of our listed items are in stock and ready to be shipped.

Certified Customer Reviews
Overall Rating -> 10 star ratings
I was looking for a gem to put in my grandmother’s necklace for an event. GemSelect made it easy to narrow down what I was looking for, had a great price, and was very convenient.
Posted By Lauren in May, 2021
Source: Bizrate
Overall Rating -> 8 star ratings
I'm excited about the stone, hoping it's beautiful in real life. We'll see when I get it, if it's great I'll buy more from this company
Posted By Brooker in March, 2021
Source: Bizrate
Overall Rating -> 9 star ratings
Wide variety of gems in various cuts, sizes, and prices.I found a variety of small gems with good looking cut and clarity and a really great price.Really great overall selection, but a little dated looking site and filtering / navigation options. Only other downside is the only 2 shipping options leaving you paying quite a premium if you want your order faster even for a small order.
Posted By Luke in August, 2021
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Overall Rating -> 9 star ratings
First time user. So far the experience has been pleasant but will know more after receiving the product.
Posted By Greybeard in December, 2021
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An incredible selection of gemstones at a wide range of prices. Some fantastic cuts - unlike any I have seen anywhere. Ita's fun to look even if there is no intention to buy - if you can resist
Posted By Fairhopepete in May, 2021
Source: Bizrate
Overall Rating -> 9 star ratings
They seem to have fair prices!
Posted By Star in January, 2022
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Nice selection of Gem Stones. Enjoyed shopping.
Posted By Adventurer in November, 2021
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Overall Rating -> 10 star ratings
Enjoy wide selection
Posted By Tom in May, 2021
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Overall Rating -> 10 star ratings
The selection is great, but the quality pictures does the selling. I know what I've ordered before I get the product in the mail.
Posted By Jimbob in September, 2021
Source: Bizrate
Overall Rating -> 9 star ratings
I make wire wrapped pendants for birthday presents, and always feature a birthstone as the base for the project. GemSelect has a wide variety of shape/size pieces to fit any budget. A detailed description of each individual stone is perfect for those searching for particular stones for their application, and information on stone treatments and the like are phenomenal.
Posted By AbysmalHippo7 in June, 2021
Source: Bizrate

Article Categories

Total Number of Articles: 1866

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Size and Weight

Gems are always measured in Millimeter (mm)

Dimensions are given as;
length x width x depth,
except for round stones which are;
diameter x depth

Select gems by size, not by weight!
Gem varieties vary in density, so carat weight is not a good indication of size

Note: 1ct = 0.2g

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