Cabochon clusters: the smooth, sensuous way to wear gems

The perfect curves of cabochons can offer a welcome break from the strict proportions of faceted stones, and a new wave of jewellery designs are using colourful cabochon clusters to create pieces that offer a textural delight for the senses.

Cabochons are gemstones that have been shaped and polished but not cut into facets, and so have a smooth, convex, bubble-like appearance at the top with a flat edge underneath. Often, these gems will be cut in large sizes that might be used as the centre stone of a design, but a key jewellery trend this year is to cluster smaller cabochons together.  

Nikos Koulis has clustered together smooth cabochons of turquoise to create these Spectrum ear jackets (€10,900).

Greek jewellery designer Nikos Koulis has been experimenting with clusters of cabochons and you’ll see small, smooth bubbles of gemstones popping up throughout his new collections. One design that shows off the cabochon cluster effect particularly well is a pair of ear jackets within the Spectrum collection, which have been embellished with smooth rounds of turquoise or pink topazes, littered with tiny brilliant round diamonds. The result is a truly organic design that, when off the ear, looks almost like a small sea creature.

While Nikos Koulis jewellery is smooth and uniform, Italian jeweller Crivelli has embraced cabochons in a more chaotic cluster. It has used smoothed gemstones in juicy pink and green tones and set them at jaunty angles, with each stone offering a unique shade, size and display of inclusions.  

These Pomellato Capri rings present cabochon-like shapes of coloured ceramic with rubies, sapphires or tsavorites (£1,360).

Pomellato has also been working with the cluster formation in its new Capri collection, but rather than use coloured gemstones it has opted for ceramics. The high-shine material has been tailored with gem-like colours such as turquoise, rose and onyx black. The ceramic is set in clusters on top of rose gold Pomellato rings, with seemingly random-set, real faceted gems such as sapphires, tsavorites and rubies.

Another way to tap into this trend without the gemstones is to replace them with clusters of polished metal globes shaped to look like cabochons. Mattioli has created a collection called The One that answers this brief exactly, with polished rose gold cabochons, some pavé set with diamonds. Whether you opt for gems, metal, or even ceramics, cluster your cabochons this year for a seriously smooth style.   

  • Nikos Koulis Spectrum turquoise cabochon ear jackets

    Spectrum turquoise and diamond ear jackets in yellow gold

    Nikos Koulis

    € 10,900

  • Pomellato Capri rings with cabochon rubies, sapphires and tsavorites

    Capri ceramic and multicolour gemstone rings in rose gold


    £ 1,360

  • Mattioli The One ring with cabochons of rose gold spheres

    The One rose gold sphere ring


    € 2,730

  • Venyx Moonshell yellow gold bangle with coloured gemstone cabochons

    Oceanyx Moonshell multicoloured gemstone cuff


    £ 9,000

  • de GRISOGONO Melody of Colours purple amethyst cabochon earrings

    Cabochons of deep purple amethyst have been clustered together to create these earrings by de GRISOGONO (£66,800).