Gemstones make for beautifully colorful, funky and eye-catching jewelry. If you enjoy wearing unique accessories or are looking for a new hobby, fashioning your own setting for your gemstone rings, necklaces and bracelets is a great way to create an original look without breaking the bank.
In order to create your own jewelry out of gems, you will need the following items: • The gem you want to set • Gem-setting pliers that have a parallel closing jaw. A pair of long nose pliers can also be used, as long as the jaws are smooth. • For small gemstones, a stone holder with a spring-loaded wire grabber is useful. • If you plan to make gem setting a hobby and will be working with small stones, a headband magnifier, which is basically a large pair of goggles with optical glass lenses, is recommended. • Nail buffer
According to San Diego-based jewelry maker and certified gemologist Jim Porter, there are two general categories of stones that are used for jewelry settings: opaque stones, which are normally cut so that they are flat on the bottom and rounded on top; and clear stones, which are normally cut so that light enters the stone from all angles and is reflected back through the top of the stone. Porter warns that stones of an irregular shape or size require a custom setting and probably shouldn't be attempted by an amateur.
There are two basic types of settings, according to Porter: bezel settings, which require a set of tools that you may not want to invest in during the amateur phase; and prong settings, which he recommends. Porter also recommends that beginners choose settings that are prenotched. This means that the prongs have a v-notch in which the girdle of the stone will rest. The idea is that the top of the prong will bend at the v-notch and produce a small prong tip over the edge of the gem just sufficient to hold it in place. Make sure, Porter adds, that if you are using a prenotched commercial setting, the gem size matches the size of the setting, referred to as a calibrated size.
Using the pliers, place the stone in the setting with the back flush against the setting. Bend the prongs down, one at a time, until they come into contact with the stone.
The stone should be placed inside the prongs and held in place while the prongs are pressed against the gem such that it is held in place by the notch in the prongs. This is where a stone holder might come in handy. Once the prongs are against the girdle of the gem, place the top of the prong and the bottom of the setting between the pliers and make sure the top of the prong is bent inward toward the top of the gem. Repeat this process for all the prongs.