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Gemstones Archive

How to set gemstones in blank jewellery settings.

Posted December 2, 2017 By Admin

Setting your own gems is easy with our Blank Jewellery Settings

Many people interested in gemstones have a stockpile of loose gems that rarely see the light of day.  Their real value and beauty is enhanced when they are set in an attractive piece of jewellery.  While custom made jewellery is suitable for very expensive, high value gemstones, it can be difficult to find a good manufacturing jeweller and the work is quite expensive.  Using off the shelf blank settings is a much more affordable option that is ideal for gemstone collectors or cutters.

Blank jewellery settings are generally available in two main types:  a) “snap in” type settings and b) pre-notched cast settings.  See below for more information.


This is a revolutionary new idea in gem setting.  It is so simple that anyone can do it in just seconds !  Although currently available in a smaller range of sizes and designs, these are the settings for the inexperienced to start on.  Once you have done a few of these, it will give you confidence to step up to the cast settings.  Please note the Snap-Sure settings generally are lighter than the cast settings and are more suitable for smaller stones.

If you have a heavier and/or more valuable gemstone, we recommend you go for the cast settings (see further down) as these will be more secure.

Instructions for Snap-Sure Settings:

  • Just turn the stone face down (point up) on a semi-hard surface that will not scratch the gemstone (eg. magazine, etc).
  • Push the mounting down over the gem until it “snaps in”.  Check and make sure the stone is level in the setting – if it is not, a gentle push with your fingernail should straighten it up.
  • Check to make sure the prongs are snug against the girdle of the gem – if they are not closed tightly on the gem, use some smooth pliars to press them across the opposing prongs under the gem.  Do not use serrated jaw pliars as these can scratch the silver.
  • Remember – gentle is the key as too much pressure can twist your setting or damage a valued gemstone.
  • In most cases, adjustments like this are not necessary.  The whole setting process will literally take just a few seconds.

Gem face down and ready to set

Finished set of sapphire earrings in just a few seconds


These cast settings are slightly heavier in construction compared to the Snap-Sure settings.  Therefore, these will wear better and usually hold the stone more securely.  There is no cutting seats or filing prongs necessary as all claws are pre-notched for your convenience.  These castings are also fully finished with just a normal polish necessary after the stone has been set.  Some castings available are only semi-finished and require specialised tools to complete the piece so please remember to check this when comparing prices.

Instructions for Cast Settings:

  • Place your gem in the setting – this can be done similarly to step 1 above by placing face down and pushing the setting over the gemstone.
  • Turn the setting + gemstone over carefully so that the top of the piece faces you.  Level the stone in the setting with your finger
  • Use a pair of smooth jawed pliers to gently bend the prong in against the gemstone but do not tighten completely at this stage.  Work in an X pattern to tighten opposite prongs in sequence.
  • Closely inspect that the gemstone is leve and square within the setting as you work.  If the gem is not square, simply close the opposing prong slightly to adjust this.
  • Once you are happy with how the gem is sitting, tighten all the prongs to complete the job.  A prong pusher is recommended for this step (see below) but is not essential.
  • Remember to be gentle and take your time to avoid damaging the setting and/or the gemstone.  Do not use excess pressure or force.
  • For settings with accent stones, be sure to mount these first before doing the main gem.

Gently tightening opposite prongs with pliers working in a X type pattern - do not over tighten yet

Push the prongs in against the stone gently using the prong pusher to complete the job


IMPORTANT – off the shelf blank settings are designed for calibrated size gemstones – while there is a small amount of adjustment in some cases, you should try and be as close to ideal size as possible.  A gemstone that is not close to calibrated size or is cut excessively deep or shallow is unlikely to fit in these types of settings.  If you are getting your gems cut overseas, we strongly recommend paying a small amount extra for calibrated size cutting as this will make things a lot easier later if you decide to get any of them set into jewellery.

Suitable pliers can be bought here – either flat pliers or nylon jaw pliers are ideal for the job.  However, you may have something already that can be modified to suit. We just use a simple pair of hobby pliers that have the serrations ground off the jaws (see photo)

Prong pushers are recommended for the final tightening step – pliers can be used for this but a prong pusher is designed for this job.  These are also easily purchased (click here to buy) but are very simple to make – just find a screwdriver with a comfortable handle and cut off to convenient length, then just grind the end smooth and flat (see photo).

Grinding serrations off jaws

Grinding end of old screwdriver to be flat and smooth

See our Store Policy page for information on returns, etc.  We do accept returns on any item in original condition but cannot be responsible for any damage done while using these settings.  Please use the instructions above as a guide and be very careful not to damage either the setting or your gemstone.  Slow and steady is the recommended approach.  If you have any questions at all – either before purchase or while you are in the middle of setting your stone, just email us and we will try to help. 

Tumbling Rock

Posted July 14, 2010 By Admin

Half the fun of rock tumbling is in the search for suitable rocks that will polish beautifully.  You can find these in a variety of places such as the beach, rivers and creeks, etc.

In short, whenever you are in the Great Outdoors, you should be keeping your eyes open for good tumbling rocks.  However, we have been asked many times if we can supply tumbling rocks for those just starting out in the hobby.

So in response to this demand, we are now very pleased to announce that we offer mixed colour rocks for you to try your hand at tumbling. Offered in 2 convenient sizes suitable for the most popular 3 pound barrels:

Tumbling Rock from Aussie Sapphire

These rocks are randomly selected from a mixed unidentified lot but will include a variety of quartz type rocks with colours ranging from white, green, pink, orange, grey, etc as shown in the photo above.

Black Spinel in India

Posted November 25, 2008 By AussieSapphire

Aussie Sapphire has long been a fan of Black Spinel and we take pride in being able to offer one of the largest range of calibrated sizes anywhere.  So it is always good to see others extol the virtues of this wonderful gemstone.

Came across this article in the Indian media recently which clearly outlines all the advantages of Black Spinel that we’ve been talking about for some years.  But it also had some really interesting snippets about how black gems are used in Indian culture.

The writer talks about a well-known custom in India for babies to wear bracelets on both wrists for the first year to ward off evil – the bracelets using beads of gold and black gemstones.   I have read of this custom elsewhere so it does appear to be an established custom.

He also mentions the Mangalsutra – one of the most important symbols of a Hindu marriage, traditionally worn by a married woman until her husband’s death.  The Mangalsutra usually consists of a gold ornament strung from a yellow thread, a string of black beads or a gold chain (or some combination of those elements) – it is said that the black beads are a protection from evil and so are an important part of the design.

An example of Mangalsutra from Mumbai Pluses

An example of Mangalsutra from Mumbai Pluses

The examples above show some great modern variations on the traditional designs – see more about this trend at this Mumbai Pluses Blog article.

cheers for now from Andrew and Leah (Aussie Sapphire)

New To Australia Two Exciting New Dealerships.

Posted November 17, 2008 By AussieSapphire

Exclusive new dealership for Aussie Sapphire
Australia’s Favourite Lapidary & Gem Shop

The Omni Faceting Machine – NO LONGER AVAILABLE (as of January 2009).

IMPORTANT NOTE:  we are no longer dealers for OMNI faceting machines.  If you are interested in purchasing an OMNI, please contact them directly here:  http://www.jerseyinstruments.com/

Aussie Sappire are proud to announce that we are now exclusive Dealers in Australia for the Omni faceting machine.  Orders taken now with the next machine expected in about 2-3 weeks.

Omni – Designed by Laurie Hall and Manufactured by Jersey Instruments (in the USA).  The OMNI faceting machine is a collaborative effort with Laurie Hall who for the past 35 years has been building production quality faceting machines for the gem cutting fields in Qld Australia.   We believe this NEW MODEL Omni is a great improvement on the already extremely popular Hall Xtra. It features as standard a Digital Zero Reference Faceting (protractor) and “meet point” indicator.  It has a small footprint but big impact – improvements in splash pan design have overcome the spindle bearings problems sometimes reported in early models of the Omni and Hall.

Now the Hall Faceting Machine Fans have another option that boasts extra features and design improvements PLUS no long waiting lists!  Call Aussie Sapphire now if you have queries about the Omni.

USA made Design by Laurie Hall QLD

USA made Design by Laurie Hall QLD

Darkside now Down Under

Aussie Sapphire are now Stocking Dealers for the famous BATT and BRAND NEW Darkside Polishing Laps.
Developed by Gearloose in the USA, the BATT Lap is a superior tin alloy (lead free) which has been the number one pick of many expert cutters in the USA for years.  Now after much testing, Gearloose has released the Darkside, a brand new winner in gem polishing.

Be among the first in Australia to benefit from this POLISHING REVOLUTION.  The DARKSIDE™ is a brand new lightweight lap, made of  specially developed material (composite polymer) coated onto an aluminum baseplate.  The Darkside lap is designed for polishing only – you will NOT be able to cut with the DARKSIDE™ as you can with the BATT.

Like all Gearloose laps, the polishing mechanism relies on surface complexity for polish retention, and lubricity for reduced heating and higher polishing efficiency. Some users have gotten three pavilions done before needing to add more diamond. Because the composite contains carbon, it has a natural affinity for diamond, but the hydrophilic domains accept oxide polishes.

Suer Closeup of the Darkside Lap

Super Closeup of the Darkside Lap

See this discussion on Gemology Online for comments by both the manufacturer and gem cutters about using this new lap.

Last thing – the new Print Catalogue has been sent off to the printers so we hope to be able to send these out quite soon.

Cheers for now Andrew (www.aussiesapphire.com.au)

New Lapidary Forum

Posted November 12, 2008 By AussieSapphire

It has been clear the our Aussie Sapphire website has been getting more of a lapidary focus.  One really important part of this new focus is providing advice and support to those new to the lapidary hobby.

As such, we have decided to start a brand new forum for anyone interested in rocks and gems – this is a free service hosted and administered by Aussie Sapphire.  It is open to everyone with an interest in lapidary and gems so please join up and get involved.  Membership is absolutely free to all and registration just takes a few moments.

Hope to see you there:
Aussie Lapidary Forum

cheers from Andrew and Leah (www.aussiesapphire.com.au)