Back in the old days, gem cutters chose faceting angles by trial and error. Enough faceters were cutting every imaginable gem material that the research was fairly well done. However, no scientific method existed for comparing the data nor any systematic method for sharing it. Hence, some opinions slipped into the published records.

With the advent of computerized ray tracing programs, such as GemRay, this situation changed. Gem cutters tested old theories and added new insights. Although many old principles have been clarified or improved, the move to shallower crown angles represents the only significant change. Some of the older, but still excellent, books on faceting don’t have this information.

For newcomers, all those recommended choices for faceting angles can be bewildering. Why are there so many variations? The simple fact is that most of them work fairly well!

Below, you’ll find a summary of current guidelines for choosing faceting angles. While these general guidelines do have some exceptions, they’ll help you get the greatest brilliance from your cutting.

Choosing Pavilion Angles

By far, the most important decision a faceter must make is choosing the correct pavilion main angles. Fortunately, it’s very simple. For almost all the materials we…