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Hi, I just happened across your site while getting ideas for my wire wrap gemstones and sea glass.

The fact that you give away information, don’t insist personal information, has bought my business already.

To add to the joy (yes, I’m prone to hyperbole but I’m absolutely enchanted with your business model), you add stone treatment information rather than burying it somewhere.

It’s very important to me to be able to tell my customers the what’s been done to their stones, the quality, source and composition of the gems they buy.

I believe I’m the only vendor to have the FCC and AGIA disclosure booklets available at any festival I’ve attended.

You have a customer now and, if OK, I will use your page on stone treatments, with proper attribution of course, as a handout at my next festival the end of this month.

Brightest blessings,


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Stone Treatment Codes

(B) block
(C) coated
(D) dyed
(E) enhanced
(H) heated
(I) irradiation
(F) infused
(M) man made - synthetic
(N) natural
(O) oiled
(P) pressed
(S) stabilized
(W) waxed

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About Gemstone Briolettes

Briolette Revelations

Karen Meador, PhD


everything you ever wanted to know about gemstone briolettes but didn't know to ask

Do you speak briolette? I thought that I did, but after doing some investigation, I realized that there’s more to this gemstone cut than just a pretty face.

I’ve often had difficulty working with briolettes and found considerable help from watching a Magpie Gemstones video on the topic. This video helped me understand the need for using light gauge wire for capturing briolettes since they fracture so easily. While 26 gauge wire is likely the average gauge needed for briolettes, 28 or 30 gauge may be required for others. Even though the hole in the briolette will accept a heavier gauge wire, it may crack the stone while you are completing the wrap. Consider how bones fracture when too great an outside force is applied. After the wire goes through the briolette hole, it usually also wraps or at least comes in contact with the tip of the stone. A wire that goes through the hole may still be too much for the finishing and break the briolette. I have a pretty clear understanding of this phenomenon based on the number or beautiful briolettes I’ve fractured.

faceted tear drop gemstone briolette beads

A great way to practice a cap wrap is start with a sturdier cut like a rondelle and pretend it is a briolette, then during your practice of that kind of wrap you will have less breakage and loss. It takes some experience to wrap small gem briolettes without loss. Everyone has broken a few so don’t get discouraged, it is just a part of the process.

Listening to the video mentioned above of how to wrap a briolette, I wanted to know more about those tiny holes in the cut and the following information led me to a better understanding of why this cut is so fragile and how I should work with it. Definitions of briolette, such as those immediately below, vary slightly according to the source.

A pear-shaped or oval gem, especially a diamond, cut in long triangular facets.
[A] teardrop-shaped gem; a gem cut in the shape of a teardrop or oval.
[A]ny pear-shaped gem having its entire surface cut with triangular facets.

You can easily note that the main variance among these definitions is whether or not a gem named a briolette is faceted.

I deduced from the research that the traditional definitions of briolette describe the cut as having triangular facets and, while not mentioned in many descriptions, is also side to side top drilled. Creative cutters have taken more liberties with the shape in recent years and some gemstone dealers may have a variety of shapes that they label briolette. More information on this will follow later.

Tera drop gemstone briolette beads without facets.

The term briolette stems from the French words “brilliant” and “brignolette”, a small dried plum and the use of this cut purportedly dates back to at least the 14th century. It is often found in antique or estate jewelry, especially in earrings and tiaras that you may recall having seen with stone facets that still sparkle. This cut was popular for diamonds during the 1800s, but has recently been used more for semi-precious gemstones.

There are fewer cutters who create briolettes than other shaped stones mainly because it takes years of experience and skill to become adept at the process. Although the gemstones may be cut by hand or machine, the process remains tedious and a cutter may only create a few in a day. We need only consider the tiny amount of stone through which the hole is drilled to recognize the difficulty of creating this shape. The stone tips containing the holes are extremely delicate and a designer must be careful not to break the fragile stone while working with it.

The stones that are usually cut into briolettes are brittle, as they should be. Consider a tree as an analogy; the wood in the tree is much softer than porcelain. If you drop wood on the pavement it won’t break, but obviously a brittle porcelain tea cup will. It is the same with stones; many high quality gems are more brittle than others such as jasper. A stone cutter may spend all day faceting briolettes. If the cutter tries to drill a big hole in the easily fractured shape, he/she will most likely break the stone and lose half the briolettes. Cutters do not see an issue with small holes surmising that designers should not be using big wire in brittle stones.

Also when the hole is drilled there might be a small chip as the drill comes out the other side. This is very common and acceptable if it does not affect the integrity of the stone and you are able to design with this imperfection in mind such as a briolette cap or bead beside the briolette. When we purchase eye clear, AAA quality briolettes with no chips, the price goes up accordingly and exponentially. The designer who knows how to cover tiny chipped holes in your jewelry design saves considerable money on gemstone briolettes!

Magpie Gemstones always discloses in their listings if there are small chips by the holes so you can make this decision yourself.  If you have been using gemstone briolettes with ample holes and absolutely no hole chips, you may want to check whether you have not been using manmade gemstones or glass.

Following are gemstone examples of cuts that have a different shape from the traditional teardrop, yet are top–side drilled. Some gemstone dealers, including Magpie Gemstones, label all top-side drilled stones as briolette. This helps customers doing online searches for top drilled beads. I certainly would not know the names of all the gemstone cuts that follow; yet, I can remember briolette!

different cuts of briolettes, onion cut, marquise cut, faceted twist, tear drop briolettes and more.

The next time you want to work with a beautiful gemstone, why not try a briolette? Just remember to be careful with the tiny hole in each and use an appropriate design and guage of wire.

Karen Meador

**Contributing authors are noted in the articles they wrote. All articles are copyright. You can reprint these articles as long as the original author is sited and a link to this website is included. The name Magpie Gemstones must be used as the hypertext

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