What is a Cabochon?

This is a question that comes up from time to time when I’m jewelry shopping with clients. For many, “cabochon” is a jewelry vocabulary word which may not be part of your daily vernacular. Pronounced “kab-uh-shawn,” it refers to a rounded, highly polished cut of stone with no faceting. Typically, this cut is an oval shape (though you’ll find it in other shapes as well) with a flat bottom. Alexis Kletjian recently posted this stunning photo of a group of phrenite cabochons. Beautiful, right?

phrenite cabochons via alexis kletjian
The word cabochon comes from the French word “caboche” which translates to “small dome.” Opaque gems such as turquoise, opal,¬†moonstone, and onyx are most commonly found in this cut, as opposed to transparent gems, which are typically faceted. Personally, I adore cabochon gems — they elicit a very mystical vision¬†in my mind.

So that you can get a clear handle on what cabochon jewelry looks like, I thought I’d share a few lovely examples.

Gabriella Kiss aquamarine ring

gabriella kiss aquamarine cabochon ring
Sundance rainbow moonstone ring

sundance rainbow moonstone cabochon ring
Irene Neuwirth turquoise cabochon band

irene neuwirth cabochon turuoise band
Jamie Joseph triple oval grey star sapphire and diamond ring

jamie joseph triple oval grey star sapphire ring with diamond
Nava Zahavi blue kyanite ring

nava zahavi blue kyanite cabochon ring
Tamara Comolli bouton rainbow moonstone ring

tamara comolli bouton rainbow moonstone cabochon ring
Irene Neuwirth tanzanite cabochon bracelet

irene neuwirth cabochon tanzanite bracelet in rose gold
Do you have any jewelry with cabochon gems in your jewelry box? Does this cut appeal to your sense of personal style? Please let me know in the comment section below — I’d love to hear from you.