Professional Jeweler Archive: Pear-Shaped Gems: The Elements of Quality Cutting

April 2004

For Your Staff/Selling Color


Pear-Shaped Gems: The Elements of Quality Cutting

This is the second installment in the series explaining quality factors in a variety of shapes to help boost gemstone selling skills


If gemstone rough came in predictable crystal formations, pear-shaped gems would be rare. But nature and the mining process frequently combine to produce rough that’s bulky on one side and tapered on the other, making it best suited for cutting pears. In jewelry, the shape is most flattering in pendants and rings. Pear shapes in a ring tend to accentuate finger length, a benefit you can mention to customers.

Quality Factors for Pears

Try to stock only pears that are lighter colors or colorless. Pear shapes tend
to concentrate color and brilliance around the gem’s point while exhibiting a softer color and brilliance around the gem’s head.

Examine the gem with the table facing you. Does the head look in proportion to the point? A rule of thumb: the gem should be about 1.5 times longer than the width. Though some pretty pears can be unusually long and tapered or short and squatty, all pears should appear balanced.

As you look through the table, you should see a centered culet that appears closer to the head (see diagram).

The less you see of a “bow-tie” optical effect, visible through the table, the better. These bow-ties are due to light leaking out of the gem through the pavilion. Skilled cutters know how to minimize this effect.

Look at the gem under a microscope or 10X loupe. Make sure all facet junctions meet crisply at the point. Because pressure is exerted in the jewelry mounting process, be sure there are no abrasions, fissures or chips that can cause the vulnerable point to break off. (Use the same procedure to inspect pears in jewelry submitted for repair.). Sell pear shapes in prongs or bezels, which protect the points.

Turn the gem over and look at the belly, or pavilion. You should be able to devise an imaginary straight keel line from the girdle edge area nearest the head to the girdle edge nearest the point (see diagram). The keel line divides the gem into “mirror’ halves, sometimes called wings. Look for balance.

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.

Illustrations by Orasa Weldon
Photo by Robert Weldon

TABLE
The top facets.
PROFILE
The girdle around
the gem and the culet.
PAVILION
The bottom facets.
A pear-shaped pink sapphire, balanced and pleasing in proportions.

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications