A cabochon is a gemstone that has been shaped, usually on a grinding wheel. The typical form is that of a stone that is oval or round with a convex (domb) top and a flat backside. A convex form is preferred for turquoise, rather than a faceted one, because it is an opaque and soft stone
Larger cabochons are often used as centerpieces in pendants. Smaller cabochons can be found in bracelets or rings, and can even be incorporated into findings, such as the toggle to the right. The smallest of cabochons may be used in earrings or as embellishments in larger pieces. With regard to turquoise, cabochons are often used in men's belt buckles, especially in the Southwestern part of the United States.
While ovals and rounds are most commonly seen, other forms are possible, such as teardrops. Carved cabochons are also popular.
When making turquoise cabochons, the lapidarist will begin with a slab of rough turquoise (often stabilized), sliced to the appropriate thickness. The desired oval or round shape is then stenciled onto the slab and cut with a diamond tipped blade rock saw. Using a grinder wheel the stone is cut to the desired shape and rounded on top. This is usually done under water to prevent the stone from heating up and breaking. Increasingly, this process is being carried out using automated machinery.