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Distinguishing Different Gemstone Settings

You may be aware of the different types of gemstones available. Maybe you pride yourself on knowing the four C’s of a diamond. What you may not realize is how many different stone settings exist. A setting refers to the type of mounting or piece of metal used to hold a stone in place. Besides adding to the attractiveness of a piece, the setting is very important. Without it, your beloved stones would not stay in place!

Each setting has its particular charm, as well as advantages and disadvantages. Some settings are determined by the shape or cut of the gemstone, whereas others are based on personal preference. We’re going to discuss some common settings so you’ll be more prepared when you go jewelry shopping.

Prong Setting

Prong or claw settings are the most common and inexpensive. Prongs can be made of gold or stronger platinum. Part of each prong is carved out to provide a “seat” for the stone. The prongs are then pressed or hammered into place to secure the stone. Four-prong settings show off more of the stone, but 6 prongs are more secure. Prong tips can be rounded, oval, flat or v-shaped. The traditional claw setting displays a single stone raised from the band. Because this style emphasizes the gem, it’s a popular choice for engagement rings.

Unfortunately, prongs that touch the stone often trap dirt which may be impossible to remove. Prong tips can also catch on hair or clothing or wear down over time – especially when made of gold. The biggest disadvantage is the possibility of losing a stone if a prong breaks off.

Bezel Setting

Bezel settings are one of the oldest. They consist of a metal rim or collar which completely encases the sides of a stone. Because the rim extends slightly above the stone, it adds height and dimension to the piece. Solid bezels are more traditional, whereas half bezels are split into 2 sections and offer a more modern look. Because they’re more secure, bezel settings are a great choice for active people. On the downside, they’re more expensive to create because they must fit the shape and size of a stone perfectly. They will also cover much of your stone.

Channel Setting

Channel settings are considered one of the most elegant and they’re best suited for stones with straight sides. They contain a continuous row of stones placed into a metal channel, with no metal separating each one. Rows on both sides can really enhance a center diamond, making this a popular choice for wedding and engagement rings. A continuous row of diamonds placed in a channel setting is called an anniversary or eternity ring. Gemstones are also well protected since they have no exposed edges, but they can be very difficult to resize.

Pavé/Bead Setting

Pavé or bead settings are very beautiful and can make stones appear larger. Many small stones, usually diamonds, are placed very close together. Each stone is separated and held in place by 3-6 little metal beads. Stones are placed into small drilled holes, giving the appearance of a continuous or “paved” surface. This setting can be very expensive because it’s so detailed and time consuming to create.

Inlay Setting

Inlay settings offer great protection for stones because they’re directly set or “inlaid” into the metal. Part of the surface of the metal is cut away so the stones can be partially embedded into the hollowed section. As a result, the two materials appear level and can be formed into intricate and stunning designs. More complicated designs will be more expensive.

Flush Setting

Flush settings are the most subtle because stones are sunk into a mounting until they’re level with the surface. They’re very popular for larger stones because they offer great protection, as well as a very modern look. However, they don’t allow a stone to reflect much light.

Illusion Setting

Illusion settings consist of several gems laid side by side with no metal between them. Grooves in each stone fit into a metal frame which is hidden from view below the surface. This setting offers great protection for your stones and is a perfect choice if you’re active. These settings are also very popular for engagement and wedding rings because they create the illusion of a larger diamond. Unfortunately, these settings can be very expensive and difficult to repair.


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