How to Cut, Shape and Polish Cabochon Stones

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Cabochon stones are one of the most interesting and beautiful ways to add natural beauty to an item you’re designing or creating. It’s easy to shape and polish these stones, but it’s also important to understand their unique characteristics before you begin cutting them into your new design piece. We’ll discuss what cabochon stones are, how they are cut and shaped, and how they are polished so that you can create an eye-catching piece of jewelry or another craft item as easily as possible!


  1. Gather your materials. For cutting a cabochon stone, you’ll need a saw blade with a thin kerf and some sandpaper or an emery board. 
  2. Place the cabochon on the leather of your lap or on top of a towel so that it doesn’t slip when you’re working with it.
  3. Adjust your work area by either putting down some heavy books or securing the cabochon in place with weights if necessary so that it won’t move around as you cut into it.
  4. Insert the blade into the bottom edge of one side of the stone and start cutting across towards the opposite edge. You want to create a flat surface for shaping and polishing later on. 5) When you get close to your starting point, stop cutting and change directions by 90 degrees in order to prevent uneven edges from forming along the other sides. 
  5. Continue this process until all four sides are cut away from one another – this is what makes it easy for shaping because there are no angles left over which might cause snagging during polishing.


A cabochon stone is a gemstone that has been shaped by cutting facets on the top surface. The size of the facets determines the final shape of the stone. You can polish stones with a variety of different types of materials: diamond powder, coarse aluminum oxide powder or cerium oxide. Diamond powder is used for softer stones like opal, turquoise and malachite. Aluminum oxide is used for harder stones like amethyst, jasper and quartz. Cerium oxide is best for gemstones like garnet because it does not react chemically with them. It also polishes more evenly than other materials. The type of material you use will depend on your preferences and what the stone requires. For example, if you are working with a soft stone like opal you might want to use diamond powder. If you are working with a hard stone like quartz then you might want to use cerium oxide.


  1. Rough out the stone with a bench grinder or diamond wheel. 
  2. Choose the shape you want your cabochon to be. 
  3. Use a belt sander or coarse sandpaper to round the edges of your stone if you want it to have a domed shape (like most cabochons). 
  4. Use wet-or-dry sandpaper in different grits starting with 120 and ending with 800 grit (or use an electric sander) if you want a flat shape for your stone. 
  5. Polish the outside of your stone by rubbing it on a buffing wheel or polishing cloth until you get the desired finish. 
  6. Add color to your cabochon stone by using dye, paint, or enamel paint on its surface before polishing it again to seal in the color permanently

Main photo: starbright/

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