Celebrating a Special Occasion with Jewelry
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Jewelry and gems, The Buying Guide
Choosing the Setting
The setting you choose will be determine primarily by your personal taste. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to be familiar with a few of the most common settings so that you have a working vocabulary and some idea of what is available.
With a bezel setting, a rim holds the gemstone and completely surrounds the gem. Bezels can have straight edges, scalloped edges, or can be molded into any shape to accommodate the gemstone. The backs can be open or closed. One advantage of the bezel setting is that it can make a stone look larger. The bezel setting can also conceal nicks or chips on the girdle. It can also protect the girdle of the stone from chips and nicks.
Keep in mind that if you use yellow gold in a bezel setting, the yellow of the bezel surrounding the gemstone will be reflected into the gemstone, causing white stones to appear less white. On the other hand, a yellow gold bezel can make a red stone such as ruby look even more red or an emerald look more green.
A variation on the bezel setting is the collet setting. The collet setting has a similar appearance to the bezel setting but involves the use of gold tubing.
Prong settings are perhaps the most common type of setting. They come in an almost infinite variety; four prong, six prong, and such special styles as the Belcher, Fishtail, or six prong Tiffany. In addition, prongs can be pointed, rounded, flat, or V-shaped. Extra prongs provide added security for the stone and can make a stone look slightly larger. However, too many prongs holding too small a stone can overpower the stone and make the setting look heavy. When setting a marquise, heart shape, or pear shape gemstone, it is recommended that the point or points be held by a V-shaped prong which will best protect the point or points. For emerald cut gemstones which have canted corners, straight, flat prongs are the best choice.
In this type of setting, the shank (metal part of the ring that goes around the finger) is one continuous piece that gets broader at the top, and is shaped on top into a dome. At the center of the domed top is an opening, into which the gemstone is inserted. There are no prongs. The look is smooth and clean, and popular for men’s jewelry.
The illusion setting is used to make the mounted gemstone appear larger by surrounding it with metal, often worked to create an interesting design.
Flattop and bead setting.
In a flat top setting a faceted gemstone is placed into a hole in the flat top of the metal and then held in place by a small chips of metal attached at the stone’s girdle. Sometimes these metal chips are worked into small beads, so this setting is sometimes called a bead setting.
Channel setting is used extensively today, especially for wedding bands (or wedding rings). The stones are set into a channel with no metal separating them. In some cases the channel can continue completely around the ring, so that the piece has a continuous row of stones.
Bar setting, which resembles a channel setting, combines the contemporary and classic look. It is used in a circular band and, rather than using prong, each gemstone is held in the ring by a long tin bar, shared between two stones.
Pave setting is used for numerous small stones set together in a cluster with no metal showing through. The impression is that the piece is entirely paved with stones. The setting can be flat or domed shaped, and can be worked so that the piece almost appears to one large single gemstone. Fine pave setting work can be very expensive.
A cluster setting usually consists of one large gemstone and several smaller stones as accents. A cluster setting is designed to create a lovely larger piece from from small stones.
Distinctive contemporary settings
Today there are many interesting and distinctive designs offering something for everyone. Fine “casting” houses produce top quality settings that simply await the stones to finish them off. Some firms produce “semi-mounts,” settings complete with side stones, awaiting only your center gemstone. These can provide affordable and easy solutions to creating a new ring, or remounting stones from something else.
An increasing number of custom jewelry designers also cater to today’s market. International jewelry design competitions such as the Spectrum Awards designer competition sponsored by the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), or the Diamonds International Awards sponsored by the Diamond Information Center, provide a showcase for their work. The result is an almost limitless choice, ranging from bold sculpted gold and platinum combinations to intricate antique reproductions.
Settings to suit your lifestyle
It is important to consider your lifestyle when selecting any piece of jewelry. Be realistic about the wear and tear a ring or bracelet might take and remember that no piece of jewelry is indestructible. remember, even diamond, the hardest natural substance known, can chip or break if exposed to a sharp accidental blow.
Active outdoor types, for example, might be better off avoiding jewelry like a ring containing a marquise or pear shape gemstone since both these shapes have points. Points are more vulnerable to chipping or breaking, which could result from the kind of sudden or sharp blow an active person might subject a stone to.
In addition, the shank as well as the prongs of a ring will show the effects of wear; any detailing on a ring will blur over time, as the result or gardening, playing on the beach, mountain climbing, handling ski equipment or bicycles or any other kind of repeated contact or use.
Classic four or six prong settings serve a less active generation well, but may not be as well suited to today’s woman. If your daily schedule features a great deal of activity, you would be wise to consider a sturdier jewelry style, keeping in mind that sturdy and graceful are not mutually exclusive. For example, a bezel set setting might be better suited to your activity level. This choice won’t detract from a gemstone’s brilliance, yet it will afford you and your fine gems greater security.
Since everyday activities can loosen a setting as easily as more strenuous ones, can, it is important to have a reputable jeweler check mountings and settings once every six months. Chlorine attacks soldering links and stress points, so if you swim regularly in a chlorinated pool, take your jewelry off first.
In terms of ring design, while ring usually round, fingers aren’t. Top heavy rings will turn on the finger unless the diameter, or outline, is square or stirrup shaped to conform to the shape of the finger. Also, remember that rings worn togeher side by side quickly begin to wear on each other.
Tips for selecting the right style
set a realistic budget range to eliminate confusion and temptation that can result in disappointment.
Shop around and familiarize yourself with current styles to educate your eye and learn what really appeals to you.
Try on different styles; jewelry looks different when you see it on. This holds true of rings especially. Many people; when looking for a rings, insist they don’t like a particular ring in a showcase, and then love it when they try it on.
If you are trying to achieve an impressive look with smaller stones, consider interesting jackets for earrings, or inserts or wraps for rings. These enable you to slip your ring or studs into another piece (usually gold, platinum, or silver, sometimes with stones) and instantly create a larger look.
If selecting an engagement ring, remember that you will also be wearing a wedding band. be sure to select a style that will complement the type of wedding band you are considering.
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Bijan Aziz is the owner and Web Master for The Jewelry Hut.
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