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Here are the 10 Types of Stone Settings Most Used in Jewellery

14 Sep 2020

The craftsmanship of a setting gives the jewel panache. Stone setting is defined as ‘the art of securely setting or attaching gemstones into jewellery’. It can include attaching either a cabochon or a faceted precious/semi-precious gemstone to the metal. Every piece of jewellery that contains a gemstone requires a setting, done either by hand or with a machine. So, let us understand the importance of setting and the 10 types of settings most commonly used in jewellery manufacturing.

Why stone setting is an essential part of jewellery manufacturing?

1. Improves value of the ornament:

When stones like diamonds, emeralds, and rubies are added to a gold or platinum piece of jewellery, it immediately adds further value and richness to the jewellery.

2. Enhances beauty of the gemstone:

Diamonds and coloured gemstones enhance beauty of any ornament. If set correctly, the inherent qualities of the stone are heightened. Whether the light reflects or is required to pass through the gemstone, depends on how the setter has placed the stone to maximize its intrinsic value.

3. Distracts from inherent flaws:

While a setter uses the best setting to bring out the beauty of the stone, on the other hand he/she may even require to position a stone to hide a minor flaw like improper cut, inclusions etc.

4. Safeguards from loss or damage:

Setting a stone also means protecting it from any loss or damage during wear. Different kinds of settings are used to secure the stone. When the hardness of a gemstone is less than 7 on a Mohs hardness scale, it may necessitate protective setting to safeguard against damage.

5. Creates a balance in design:

A seamless gemstone setting creates the perfect balance between the stones displayed. The setting accentuates the design without overpowering any element.

The 10 types of Stone Setting

In recent years, various methods have developed to set gemstones in jewellery. Some of these techniques used worldwide, include:

1. Prong Setting

Prong setting or claw setting, is the most frequently seen setting. The four to maximum six fine metal claws bent over the girdle help to hold the stone in place while allowing optimal amount of light to pass through the gemstone. The claws are attached to the central base called basket or head which is shaped as per the cut of the stone - round, oval, pear, marquise, princess or emerald cut. A variation known as V-prong setting is used for pear shaped and marquise stones, as it helps to protect the pointed tips of the stone from breaking. The top visible part of the prong is mostly rounded to avoid getting entangled in clothes or catching other objects and getting damaged. Since the prong setting allows the centre stone to be slightly raised giving it a larger appearance, this setting style is mostly preferred for diamond solitaire engagement and wedding rings.

2. Bezel Setting

Bezel setting is also one of the earlier stone setting techniques used. In this type of setting the thin gold/platinum metal strip called bezel strip, is bent into the shape and size of the stone, and soldered with the head that wraps around the entire gem to secure it in place and protect it. This setting is mostly used for more fragile stones like emeralds, opals, and cabochon gemstones. The deviation on this setting is called the half bezel or semi bezel setting when the metal does not surround the whole girdle of a gemstone but splits into two or more sections, covering only a portion of the gemstone. Some designers use white gold bezel setting, to make a diamond visually appear larger.

3. Flush Setting or Burnish Setting

Another variation using the metal ring is the contemporary flush setting or burnish setting. This newer technique of setting also uses a ring around the gemstone except that the metal ring band leaves the crown of the gem visible. It is also referred to as shot setting or gypsy setting. In this method, once the stones are placed in holes that have been drilled in the seat, a burnishing tool is used to push the metal all around the stone. The stone flush with the surface, will have a rubbed or burnished edge around it sometimes using sandblasting technique.

4. Channel Setting

Channel setting is a method in which identical size gemstones are held side-by-side between two parallel strips of metal. In this setting technique, it seems the gemstones are floating without any metal appearing in-between the gemstones. The structure of channel setting is ‘U’ shaped with two sidewalls and a bottom. A track is available on each side of the inner metal wall that places every gemstone in its notch before the metal on top is pushed down, tightening the stone in place. There is a variation of channel work called bar set, when the channels cross the lines of the design, instead of going in a line with the design. Since, the stones flush with the metal the stone’s edges do not get exposed remaining safe from daily wear and tear. This setting is best suitable for diamonds with round, princess, emerald, oval, square, and baguette cuts and often seen in jewellery items like eternity bands, rings and the celebrated tennis bracelets.

5. Bead Setting

Very common in the early to middle 20th century, this setting method is still in use. It is a generic term for setting a stone using tiny chisels gravers or burins to push onto the metal, rounding and smoothing it onto the stone, creating a bead-like effect. Once the stone is set, the background metal around the stone is cut away. As a result what remains is the stone with four beads in a lowered box shape with an edge around it. In Europe, this type of setting is also called grain setting or threading. When many stones are set in this method with about 1 millimetre space apart, it becomes "pavé" setting.

6. Pave Setting

Pave technique originated from the French word ‘Pavé’ for pavement. In this setting multiple stones (mostly diamonds) are tightly placed on the surface of a jewellery item (mostly in white gold or platinum) giving it an illusion of a single larger stone from a distance. Here, the same sized tiny diamonds are placed closely in small holes that have been drilled on the surface of the metal. Often positioned in a honeycomb pattern they are held together with small handmade claws, triangular in shape, to produce brilliance across the entire surface of the jewellery item.

7. Cluster Setting

In this method of setting, the smaller stones are mounted together in a group around a larger sized central stone. Often used to create floral designs with multi-layer effect in circular form. It is used in rings where the design requires elevation in design. 

8. Invisible Setting

Invisible setting is a newer and improved version of the pave style. It is considered as one of the most difficult setting methods. Here, the stones are positioned to appear uninterrupted without any metal being visible beneath or at the side of the stones. Its main aim is to show more gemstones than metal. In this setting, stones are grooved just below the girdle and then the grooved stones are slid onto metal tracks to hold them in place. Invisible setting is best suited for gemstone cuts like squares, baguettes, princess, emerald, and trillion since the straight edges can be easily positioned very close to each other without leaving any space in-between to provide maximum light and brilliance.

9. Tension Setting

A more modern machine technique developed in the late 1960’s, is mostly used to set the hardest gemstone, diamond. In this setting, the diamond is held in place with pressure and not by prongs. The diamond appears to be floating between two metal ends yet this style is strong and secure.

10. Illusion Setting

This type of setting helps to create an illusion of a bigger stone. It uses prongs that are more decorative to provide an illusionary larger effect.