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Cabochon (from French caboche, knob) – A stone cut with a smooth rounded surface, with no facets and highly polished. Usually it is cut from an opaque or translucent stone (but some emeralds, amethysts and garnets have been so cut), or a stone with a special optical effect (e.g. asteria, opal, moonstone).
The style of cut was used in antiquity and continued until the 15th century when it began to be displaced by faceting; but its vogue was revived in art nouveau jewelry. Cabochons are of various shapes, usually circular or oval, but sometimes rectangular or triangular.
There are four basic forms:
- the ‘simple cabochon’, with a dome of varying degrees of steepness and a flat base
- the double cabochon’, with a dome-shaped underside that is flatter than the upper dome
- the ‘hollow cabochon’, with the interior cut away so as to make a shell-like form with increased translucency and often to have foil attached to the interior
- the ‘tallow-topped cabochon’, with a shallow dome.
On rare occasions a cabochon is cut with a flat surface or ‘table’ on the top of the dome. Among the stones that are often cut as cabochons are the carbuncle (almandine), cats-eye, tiger’s-eye, and amazonite. The stones so cut are said to be cut en cabochon.