Gemstone Setting Types & Functions

Rings typically come to mind when settings are mentioned. While the prong setting is most frequently used to set gems into rings, jewelers use numerous other methods to set stones into precious metals.

Settings vs Mountings

Settings and mountings are often used interchangeably, but your jeweler sees them quite differently. A setting is what holds an individual gem. A mounting includes the collection of settings and connects to the shank of a ring or other jewellery.

Actually, precious stones can be mounted into a setting that hangs from a chain to create a pendant, or as a chain to create a necklace. They can be set into a single mounting to create a post earring or alternatively in dangling earrings the gem and its mounting dangle from the earring base. In addition, gemstones can be set into bracelets, brooches, and body jewelry.

In fact, every piece of jewelry that contains a gemstone has a setting and the importance of choosing the proper setting for a stone is crucial in fine jewelry design. Along with securely holding the stone in place, the setting is the primary factor in displaying a gemstone’s cut, clarity, and color(s).

Gemstone Prong Setting

Prong settings gain much of their popularity as the easiest methods of setting a gemstone as well as one of the least expensive. Yet, an additional benefit is that the prong setting allows an optimal amount of light to pass through the stone, displaying the gem at maximum brilliance.

In a prong setting (or “claw” setting) usually four to six talons of precious metal reach around the girdle (side) of the gemstone and arch over its crown (top), snuggly holding the stone in place. Although the visible part of the prongs may be shaped into decorative shapes, more often they’re rounded to avoid catching on other objects and causing damage to either the objects or the prongs.

How well your jeweler prepares the setting’s prongs is important. Some illustrations of poor workmanship in setting a gemstone.

Gemstone Bezel Setting

Bezel Setting

The bezel setting is precisely crafted to embrace a gemstone and hold it securely in place. The bezel is one of the oldest techniques used in gem setting and remains an excellent method to protect both the girdle (middle) and the pavilion (bottom) of a gemstone from chips and scratches.

Old-fashioned bezels generally surround the entire circumference of a stone, but contemporary bezel settings may be split into a variation called the “half bezel”, which only partly encircles the stone. The bezel setting may be straight-edged or shaped to accommodate the cut of the stone and overall design of the jewelry.

Bezel settings are the setting of choice for fragile gemstones such as opals.

Gemstone Flush Settings

A variant of the bezel setting is the flush (or gypsy) setting. In this variation a window is cut into the base, the gem set into it and secured underneath. The crown (top) of the stone reaches over the base, coyly flirting with the light.

Diamonds Channel Setting

Channel Setting

The tennis bracelet is a prime example of the channel setting. In the channel setting, two long bands of precious metal hold multiple gemstones in place, giving them the appearance of floating in the setting since no metal can be seen between the stones.

Bar Setting for Gems

The bar channel, a variation of the channel setting looks as if a number of stones float in adjacent berths with each stone docked in its own private channel and set apart from its neighbors by two thin metal bars.

Pavé Set Gems

The pavé setting has the look of precious gems “paved” across a piece of jewelry. When paired in a pavé setting, diamonds and white gold shimmer and sparkle as light touches each of the small “cobblestones” that make up the pavement.

Tension Setting for Gems

tension setting

This setting uses pressure to hold a stone between two open ends of a metal mounting, making the stone appear as if it’s floating. Platinum is often the metal of choice when creating tension settings for fine gemstones.

Tension settings look nice, and light can get to the pavilion of the stone. But the arrangement puts varying pressure on the gemstone. So fragile stones might fare better with bezel settings.

Another potential problem with tension settings is losing the gemstone. If the ring diameter increases only slightly, the gem can easily slip out of the setting.

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