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High Quality? Part 20 – Gem Settings

Gem settings are how jewellery manufacturers make sure the gems in jewellery don’t fall out. There are different types of gem settings and each has its pros and cons as well as bringing a different style to the final piece. This week we will show some of the different settings and their pros and cons.

Bezel

An Industrial Strength Bezel Set Synthetic Pink Opal – available here

Bezel settings give one of the simplest and cleanest styles of all the gem settings but don’t let their simple look hide their hidden complexities. Simply put a bezel setting is a cup or box that a gem sits inside, and the top lip of the cup or box is rolled over to hold the gem in place. This could be something as simple as a standard round gem or something more complex like an asymmetric piece. Bezel settings are great for initial piercings as they have less snag risk than other options and, when well-made, will have nowhere for crusties to build up and dull the gems shine. As the gem is enclosed in the setting, bezel set gems don’t shine as much as other options. When mass manufactured bezel settings require calibrated gems (gems cut to tight measurement tolerances) and a high level of quality control to ensure gems do not move or spin.

Pros

  • Minimal snag risk
  • Can hold asymmetric gems
  • Cleaner for initial piercing

Cons

  • Gems can spin if not set correctly
  • Gems aren’t as bright due to being enclosed
  • Jewellery has to be deeper to enclose the gem

Prong/Claw

A Neometal Prong Set Ocean Grey Swarovski – Available here

Prong and Claw settings are two names for holding a gem in place using small pieces of metal around the gem like claws. Prong and Claw are interchangeable terms. These settings are perfect for making gems shine and sparkle as the light can enter the gem from all sides. Prong/Claw settings are capable of holding both large and small gems but at smaller sizes the gem can get obscured by the setting or not have enough metal for a strong setting. Due to requiring less metal to hold the gem securely, prong set jewellery can be made smaller so are perfect for daintier options.

Pros

  • Lots of light play
  • Can hold asymmetric gems
  • Gives a lighter and daintier look due to less metal

Cons

  • More attentive cleaning regime required
  • Can obscure smaller stones
  • More expensive due to highly skilled practitioner required

Pavé

A BVLA Pavé set Swarovski Snowflake – available here

Pavé settings are pure decadence as an entire surface is covered with gemstones. To achieve this lots of small settings halfway between a bezel and a claw must be made. This is the setting choice for those that really want their jewellery to stand out and to show off the gemstones more than the metal. By embedding the gemstones into the jewellery the jewellery will need to be slightly deeper. Snag risk is low to medium with this setting as the settings are low to the metal surface, but there are lots of them.

Pros

  • Lots of gems can be placed tight together to create a unique style
  • Minimal metal is visible for a more gem based style

Cons

  • An extremely skilled stone setter is required
  • If the setting becomes damaged multiple gems can be lost

Channel

An Industrial Strength Channel Set Clear Swarovski End – Available here

Channel settings involve cutting grooves into a channel so that multiple stones share the same setting. This is a very secure method of holding gems but requires very accurately made gemstones and jewellery. As the gems and setting are completely enclosed the snag risk is very low with these. Due to the open space between the gems channel settings allow a fair amount of light play and sparkle but can allow build up of crusties so require careful cleaning.

Pros

  • Lots of sparkle
  • Minimal snag risk
  • Durable design for high friction areas

Cons

  • Cleaning can be tricky if crusties build up
  • Not many manufacturers available for body jewellery
  • Calibrated gems are required

There are many variations on these settings and some jewellery will contain multiple different types of setting. If you are unsure about which settings will work well for you and your piercings then get in touch and let us know what you’re thinking. We will be glad to help you find the jewellery of your dreams.

That’s all for this week but we’ll be back next week with more piercing and jewellery knowledge.

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