Diamond Designs and More

Style of Setting

 

In choosing a diamond design, the style of setting is a very important factor in determining the type, shape and pattern of a jewelry design. Each jewelry design requires that gem stones are held in place in a certain way which is known as the setting. Gold or platinum are the commonly used metals for setting precious gems.  The most commonly used types of settings are: Renée Newman, GG, is a respected gemologist with broad experience in pricing and evaluating gemstones and jewelry.  The section on "Settings" represents a summary of her chapter "Choosing an Appropriate Setting Style" in her book  "Diamond Ring Buying Guide"


Internal link up to chapter Prong Setting

This is the most common type of setting, and usually used for larger solitaires.  The gem is fitted into a precious metal basket and secured with a minimum of three claws or prongs. The more prongs the more secure the gem is held in a setting.  Four prongs are well suited for jewelry less exposed to daily wear and tear, while six prongs may be preferred for settings which require greater durability. There are several decorative variations of this type of setting.

Detailed sketch of Prong Setting Sketch of Prong Setting Sketch of Prong Setting Sketch of Prong Setting

Advantages

  • Optimal viewing of the stone is possible and in the case of diamonds, the prong setting optimizes their  brilliance, as a maximum amount of light is permitted to enter the setting from all sides

Disadvantages

  • May not provide a smooth ring surface, and hence the prongs may have a tendency to get caught in clothing, especially if settings are high
  • Does not protect large diamonds (0.25 carat and higher) and other large gems as well as other settings styles. Exposed edges of large diamonds or other large gems  may chip if accidentally slammed against a hard surface.
  • May lead to injuries, if the diamond and setting is scratched against another person’s skin, especially while caring for infants and children
  • Prongs should be checked by a jeweller from time to time to ensure tightness of setting

Conclusion

  • The prong setting is ideal in the case of earrings and pendants, and also for rings that are generally used for special occasions only,  but for jewelry that is exposed to the daily wear and tear, other styles such as the flush or bezel style should be considered.
  • In the case of diamonds, only prong settings permit the maximum amount of light to enter the diamonds and for the light to reflect off its well cut and facetted angles thereby enhancing its display of full brilliance.
  • It is recommended, especially for larger diamonds, to use prongs made of platinum, to give the setting extra strength.


Internal link up to chapter Bezel Setting

A bezel is a band of metal that surround the diamond and holds it in place both from the sides and also as a tiny edge along the top of the diamond / gem. Top and bottom of the setting is free of metal.  The bezel setting may either fully or partially encircle the stone.  It has become fashionable in recent years.

Detailed sketch of Bezel Setting Sketch of Bezel Setting

Advantages

  • Provides good protection to the edges (girdle and pavillion areas) of diamonds
  • Provides a smooth ring surface – gems or setting do not get caught on materials
  • Can be used to set almost all gemstones without causing
  • Holds gems well, and does not require regular checking for tightness of setting

Disadvantages

  • The brilliance of a diamond is significantly restricted as light is only reflected back through the top plateau. 
  • A little more expensive than the prong setting

Conclusion

  • In Europe, the bezel setting is in fashion.
  • Apart from the fashionable trend of this setting use primarily for daily wear jewelry, but avoid for special occasion diamond jewelry, as it takes away from the brilliance of the diamond


Internal link up to chapter Flush Setting

The flush setting is popular in European diamond rings.  The stone is fit snugly into a tapered hole that is grooved to hold the edge (girdle) of the stone.  Then the surrounding metal is pressed and hammered around the rim of the opening to secure the diamond.

Advantages

  • Diamonds are level / flush with the surface of the metal resulting in a very smooth surface
  • Flush settings holds the diamond well, and protects the girdle area of diamonds

Disadvantage

  • The brilliance feature of diamonds is highly restricted as the diamond is enclosed on all but the top side by metal, thereby restricting access and reflection of the light
  • More time consuming and expensive to produce
  • Very risky setting method, in terms of damage to stones, so it should not be used for fragile gems

Conclusion

  • Unless for fashion reasons, do not use this setting for anything but daily wear diamond jewelry
  • You may consider using lower quality diamonds (quality factor: SI), as most of the brilliance of high quality well cut diamonds is, in any case, restricted


Internal link up to chapter Channel Setting

A very popular setting for wedding bands, but also to accentuate centre stones. Usually used for diamond settings. The diamonds are suspended in a channel of vertical metal walls with no metal separating the stones.

Detailed sketch of Channel Setting Sketch of Channel Setting Sketch of Channel Setting Sketch of Channel Setting

Advantage

  • Very elegant look, high brilliance
  • Ideal when using a row of smaller diamonds
  • Edge (girdle) area of diamonds are protected, and provide a smooth channel surface

Disadvantage

  • When channel setting is done cheaply, a long groove is cut into thin metal and the diamonds are slid in.  Stones are not tight and secure in the channel.
  • Sometimes, diamonds in channel setting will also be secured by prong settings.  This takes away from the elegance of the channel settings.
  • Risky, in terms of damage to stones,  hence should not be used for fragile gems

Conclusion

  • Channel settings are always a very elegant type of setting, especially for rings and also for hoop and loop earrings


Internal link up to chapter Bar Setting

This is a form of channel setting, except the stones are set in channels across a ring or earring loop.  The stones on each end of the channel are exposed at the edges of the mounting instead of being secured in metal.

Advantages

  • Very elegant look, high brilliance
  • Ideal when using a row of smaller diamonds
  • Edge (girdle) area of diamonds are protected, and provide a smooth channel surface

Disadvantages

  • The bar set stones can get loose or chipped with repeated banging.

Conclusion

  • Bar settings are always a very elegant type of setting, especially for rings and also for hoop and loop earrings


Internal link up to chapter Pavé or Bead Setting

Mainly used with diamonds. In this type of setting, diamonds are fit into tapered holes and set almost level with the surface of the ring.  Then some of the surrounding metal is raised to form beads which hold the diamonds in place. The diamonds are placed in rows but in such a way that they fill as much of the space of the surface as is possible without actual touching.  The more precisely cut the diamonds,  the better the final appearance of the ring.

Detailed sketch of Pave Setting Sketch of Pave Setting

Each tiny diamond, weighing just a few points, is fully cut with 58 facets. Though small in size, each stones contributes to the overall shimmering look of the design.

Pavé is a demanding technique that is most successfully accomplished in the hands of a patient and extremely talented goldsmith.   The cost of Pavé setting lies mainly in the hand setting of diamonds. As such the pavé setting is often much more a determinant of price than the cost of the diamonds and the gold

When there are three or more rows of diamonds / gems set in this way without partitions between the stones, it is called pavé, which in French means ‘paved’, like a cobble stone road.  It is customary to use platinum to support pavé set diamondseven if the rest of the mounting is yellow gold.  Pavé setting mainly uses small diamonds/gems.

Advantages

  • Pavé setting usually protects the stones better than prong setting
  • When pavé designs are spread over the surface of a mounting, they can make gems and especially diamonds appear larger and more numerous than they actually are

Disadvantages

  • Risky setting method, in terms of damage to the stones.  Good diamonds, rubies and sapphires can withstand the pressure of being pavé set, but fragile stones such as emeralds, opals, tourmalines and diamonds with large cracks risk damage
  • Pavé settings do not provide as smooth of a jewelry surface as bezel, channel or flush settings
  • May not be as secure as other settings

Conclusion

  • Very elegant form of setting
  • ten small 0.10 ct diamonds if arranged in a square or circle may display a similar brilliance as a one large 1.00 ct diamond at a fraction of the large diamond’s cost
  • In evaluating a Pavé set piece of jewelry look at the overall design.  Are the diamonds laid out in such a way that the entire surface of the ring looks like a glittering carpet of gems.  That’s the sign of a well designed and well set piece of art work.


Internal link up to chapter Cluster Setting

A cluster setting is another form of using small diamonds / precious stones. The diamonds / precious stones may be arranged as flowers or as an abstract design or in multiple 3-dimensional design layers.  The arrangement of gems may be open and airy looking or it may be more tightly arranged.

Advantages

  • As small stones are involved, primarily prong settings are utilised.  Settings are quite secure.
  • Allow for interesting and beautiful designs such as flowers, heart shapes or any other shapes

Disadvantages

  • Surface of the jewelry may not be smooth

Conclusion

  • Cluster settings are ideal for decorative designs and shapes using small stones,  possibly also to accentuate a larger gem in the centre

 

 
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