The Art of Gemstone Settings

The Art of Gemstone Settings

Introction

Gemstone setting is the art of securely setting or attaching gemstones into jewelry. The task of setting a gemstone can be simple or complicated, depending on the size & shape of the gem & the type of setting. There are many variations of setting styles, from traditional to modern to choose from. Here are the most popular fundamental types of gemstone settings for custom jewelry. All settings are available for discussion.

Prong Setting

This is a classic setting that almost everyone has seen. It shows a large surface area of the stone & for the most part is quite secure. It is important that the diameter of the prongs is proportional to the size of the gemstone & that is works with the design. If the prongs are too thick, then the design will look bulky but if the prongs are too thin, then the stone may not be secure. The number of prongs needed depends on the design capabilities of the piece & the size of the gemstones that are to be incorporated.

Bezel Setting

This is by far the most secure way of setting most gemstones since it protects the stone on all sides. The disadvantage to this kind of setting is that it requires metal to be bent around the top of the stone thus reducing the apparent surface of the top of the gem. In general, this is a great option for larger faceted gemstones, stones that are fragile by nature & cabochon cut stones. A bezel setting is stronger and more secure than a prong or channel setting but does not let as much light through the gemstone.

Half-Bezel Setting

This is like a bezel setting but exposes a greater part of the stone surface. Choosing this type of setting is often more of a design consideration. This type of bezel setting does not fully surround a gemstone; they often hold a gemstone in place by enclosing it only on its sides. Because half-bezel settings cover parts of the edges of a gemstone, they can be useful for hiding flaws. If a gemstone has a chip on its edge or has noticeable inclusions on its edges – this setting can greatly minimize their visibility.

Channel Setting

This is a classic way to set multiple gemstones of the same size in a limited space. Gemstones remain secure & their tops are nearly completely visible. Channel setting requires a high degree of skill to execute well. When done incorrectly, the stones do not sit at the same level. Most channel set rings have a small lip that extends very slightly over the edge of the diamonds to keep them secure. A channel setting is like a pavé setting but uses thicker metal to secure the diamonds.

Fishtail Setting

This is a great setting option for multiple side stones particularly on engagement rings. The stones remain very secure & ring edges stay very straight & geometric. Fishtail setting is an elegant setting, where the diamond melee is set low into the metal with delicate fishtail-shaped cuts. It is an extremely secure setting for rows of gemstones. The basis of the fishtail setting style is two small, but secure beads and two “pushed-over” sections of metal on the girdle of the diamond.

Scallop Setting

This is another great option for multiple side stones on engagement rings, providing security & exposing a good deal of stone surface. Like other accent stone settings, choosing a scallop setting is a question of design. In a scalloped setting, also known as a U-cut setting, the metal beads holding the accent diamonds have U-shaped cut-outs underneath, adding a distinctive design element.

Pavé Setting

This is the most classic way to set many stones in a small area. The reflections off the stones & the metal beads holding them in place create an illusion of a greater multiplicity of stones. There are three different style of Pavé settings. Micropavé, where accent gemstones are set closely together, secured with small prongs. Micropavé Set, where accent gemstones are set closely together with small beads of metal holding them together. French Pavé, like micro pavé, it adds a small, V-shaped cut-out underneath each gemstone.

Tension Setting

This is a very special setting which shows nearly the entire surface of a stone. For it to work, the metal needs to be particularly tense & the stone particularly hard. For example, white gold or platinum & diamond work for this. Silver & moonstone would not work. When executed well, the results are spectacular, the illusion of a floating diamond. Often, when not well executed, the result can be an unstable setting that loosens up with wear.

Bar Setting

Unlike prong or bezel settings where the stone is held by metal tips or frames, here the stone is held in position by two long, thin vertical bars carefully placed on either side of the stone. Bar settings secure diamonds on two sides with vertical metal bars, leaving ample space for light to pass through the diamonds. While bar settings are like channel settings, they leave the diamond exposed on two sides. This secure setting style is typically used for baguette-style diamonds in three-stone rings or eternity bands.

Flush Setting

In a flush setting, the diamond is set into a drilled hole in the band, so the diamond sits “flush” with the band of the ring. The flush setting, also called gypsy or hammer style setting. With the flush setting, the diamonds are placed into a drilled hole in the metal, where they are then set flush against the metal. The only visible part of the diamond is the top, while all other parts of the stone are embedded into the metal. The metal around the diamond is hammered down to fit smoothly against the metal without any edges.

Shared Prong Setting

In a variation of the classic prong setting, prongs are wrapped around the crown of a stone to secure it in place. This type of setting minimizes the presence of metal, allowing more light to pass through a diamond or gemstone. In a shared prong setting, each stone shares one set of prongs with the stone next to it. With less visible metal, more light can pass through each diamond, which leads to added sparkle.

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