Are you an experienced jeweller who works with gemstones and stone setting techniques every day? Or are you just starting out and getting to know different types of setting? Wherever you are in your jewellery-making career, this Swarovski® stone setting guide will help you use new stone setting techniques with confidence and expand on your knowledge base of more complex gemstone settings.
At Cooksongold, we’ve recently partnered up with Swarovski and are now official stockists of Swarovski genuine gemstones and created stones. This means we’re here to help, whether you need to stock up on colourful gemstones in varying cuts or expand on your knowledge of how to set stones using new techniques. What better opportunity to learn how to produce perfectly crafted settings with our new Swarovski gemstones range?
Helping you perfect Swarovski® stone setting techniques
As a jeweller who is used to working with precious metal, you may want to experiment with new cuts and unfamiliar stone settings. Perhaps you’re at a point where you want to work on bezel settings in more detail, or you simply want to learn more about CNC setting techniques? So let’s get to work. Here’s how you can start working with Swarovski gemstones, integrating them with your own pieces and applying your own style to each new gemstone you use.
The bezel setting is possibly one of the most commonly used stone settings in jewellery making, as it provides a secure way of setting many types of stone, and can easily be conquered by beginners using pre-cut bezel for simple cabochon stones.
What is a bezel setting?
A bezel setting is made using a strip of metal that encloses the gemstone within it, revealing the top of the stone with a small collar of metal holding it in place. Bezel is the metal strip that encases the gemstone that you’re working with and often resembles a cup shape, in which your stone will be set.
Different types of bezel setting
- Full bezel setting – when the gemstone is fully enclosed within the bezel strip and only the top of the stone is visible
- Partial or half bezel setting – where the metal strip does not fully enclose the gemstone but leaves some of it more open and visible
- Open backed bezel – ideal for pendant work where each side of the gemstone is visible but the metal strip wraps around the edges of the stone
- Hammer set bezel – when gemstones are an irregular shape hammering may be an easier way of encasing it in the bezel strip
How to bezel set a gemstone from the Swarovski collection
If you’re setting Swarovski gemstones by hand, you’ll need to take a firm hold on the bezel or collet (metal cup) using tweezers or flat nose pliers. Remember to use a loose but sturdy grip so that the metal is not misshapen as you work. Place the Swarovski gemstone inside the metal cup using your tweezers. Once you’re happy with the position of the gemstone you can then close the cup shut using a bezel roller or your preferred hand setting tool.
Some Swarovski gemstones are available in pre-settings – these include bezel settings and prong settings -however, if you’re exploring various setting techniques and wish to really get to know the ins and outs of creating accurate bezel set pieces, you may want to experiment with both pre-made bezels and DIY bezels. The main thing to remember when creating bezel set designs is that the stone you’re using should fit snugly in the bezel. The stone may have some room, but it should be firmly in place so that it has no chance of coming loose and dropping out of the setting.
Are you just starting to experiment with stone setting techniques? Use our guide on how to bezel set a cabochon stone to get you started – this will help you to master basic soldering and setting techniques that you can build on as you continue to play around with new gemstone cuts and unique settings.
Why choose bezel set stones?
Many people choose to use bezel settings for jewellery making, whether they’re working on rings, pendants or earrings, as this type of setting provides the stone with more protection than others. A prong setting, where the stone is more exposed, is more likely to catch on clothing and become scratched or damaged. The trade off with a bezel setting is that less of the stone is visible once it’s been set in place. This potentially makes it a less desirable look in certain designs. For example, a Swarovski genuine ruby in a high quality, faceted marquise cut may be better presented using a prong setting technique so that its shape and clarity can be admired from all angles.
Also known as a claw setting, the prong setting is a popular setting technique when it comes to working with gemstones of higher value (it’s rare for engagement ring specialists to hide an intricately cut diamond in a bezel setting!). As the gemstone can be seen from all angles it allows more light to hit the stone, pass through, and illuminate it in all its brilliance.
What is a prong setting?
A prong setting is distinguished from the bezel setting by its claws or prongs that are used to hold the gemstone in place. There are several prong settings you may come across and each may vary in the amount of prongs used, from two to three, four, or six prongs. The prong setting means that less metal is used to fix the gemstone in place, leaving the gemstone table exposed, making it the focal point of the jewellery.
Different types of prong setting
- Four-prong/compass setting – when the four prongs hold the central gemstone in place at the north, east, south, and west points of the stone.
- Basket setting – where the wire prongs (usually six to twelve) form an open structure creating a basket-like shape in which the gemstones will sit.
- V-shaped/peg head prong setting – when a gemstone’s shape requires a little extra room, the v-shaped setting provides the best position and look for more pointed shapes such as marquise, pear and oval cuts.
How to make a prong setting for use with a Swarovski® gemstone
Start by placing a little pressure on the prongs so that you can tease them out. This will help you place the gemstone into the prongs at the right depth. If the gemstone is not fitting into place correctly you may need to use a burr to remove some of the precious metal so that the stone sits at the correct level.
Now the stone sits at a suitable depth you will have to establish if the prongs are long enough to firmly hold the stone in place but not so long that they hit the table of the gemstone. Some trimming may be required. At this stage it’s very much trial and error, so make sure you work in small increments so that you don’t over-trim the prongs and have to start the entire process again. Remember to remove the gemstone each time you trim or file the prongs so that you are not likely to damage the gemstone in the process.
Now you have trimmed the prongs down, you can cut a groove in the prongs with a needle file, helping the girdle of the gemstone sit firm and level in the setting. Next step is to file the prongs down – this will make it easier to manipulate the metal. Now push the prongs into place so that the gemstone is firmly secured and the prongs are flush with the gemstone.
Why choose prong settings?
Prong settings are, in fact, a cost-effective method of setting various gemstones in place. If you’re at the point where you’re creating your own prong settings you may be able to use leftover precious metal sheet or wire to create your prong setting. With time and practice the amount you use will become smaller, saving you money on buying pre-made prong settings. It will also help you to put your own stamp on the pieces that you’re working on, helping you to improve your craft and stone setting technique in the process.
A popular feature on engagement ring designs, channel set diamonds are an additional flourish to rings that add extra sparkle. Mastering channel set gemstones will mean working with smaller stones in detail and perfecting the creation of the channel while getting the height of each stone exactly the same for the best possible finish.
What is channel setting?
A channel setting is when small gemstones are suspended in a row using a channel made from two metal strips. Each stone should have an individual seat so that they are at a consistent height across the channel. A channel setting can feature as little or as many gemstones as desired, and can be an additional feature to an engagement ring or eternity ring.
How to channel set gemstones
When embarking on creating a ring with channel set gemstones the most important thing to remember is to accurately work on the creation of the seat where each stone will sit. Using a rotary cutting tool, the seats will need to be accurately formed so that each one fits the size of the stone. Each stone should also sit side by side, girdle to girdle, so that they appear to sit seamlessly once the piece is finished. As the gemstones are put into place the sidewalls of the channel can then be manipulated to firmly hold it in place. In order to accurately manipulate the setting wall, a handheld impact hammer should be used – this will effortlessly glide over the metal, pushing it into place without damaging the stone.
Getting to know how to set gemstones is a time-consuming process that will take time to perfect, especially as you begin using different Swarovski gemstones with unique cuts. But it is time well spent. Invest in some high quality stone setting tools and start experimenting with the above techniques – you’ll soon be ready to delight your customers with new designs.
Ready to try these techniques? Browse the latest collection of Swarovski® Genuine Gemstones from Cooksongold.