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How to set gemstones in blank jewellery settings.

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.

A) “SNAP IN” TYPE SETTINGS

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

B) PRE-NOTCHED CAST SETTINGS

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

C) GENERAL INFORMATION

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.