How to identify good quality gemstone setting - Introduction

It takes an entire team of talented craftspeople to manufacture a bespoke piece of jewellery from start to finish. But there's one role that is routinely overlooked despite playing a crucial part in the production of your jewellery – and that is the setter. So, what should consumers reasonably expect from a professional gemstone setter? Megan Austin explains, in the first of a series of articles on gemstone setting.

There are many different types of setting techniques. Some are meant to attract the eye to a large number of diamonds as a group, such as pave. Other techniques are intended to draw the observers eye to a single gem, as in a claw or bezel set solitaire. Setting is also used to protect a fragile gem from excessive wear and breakage.

The groundwork for good quality setting begins with a good quality mount. A good setter is able to overcome some limitations of poorly proportioned gemstones or inadequately constructed mounts, however, there is a limit to what can be achieved.

Photo 1 shows a popular type of setting called ‘pave’ which in this case has been attempted on a low-quality cast mount. The rows are badly spaced and poorly finished producing an overall affect that is uneven and unattractive. This quality is typical of low budget castings that are sold by the thousands. They are advertised using heavily retouched images that look great online or in print but are substantially inferior when examined close-up in real life. Photo 2 is another example of pave that shows the consequences of inadequate metal to hold the diamonds, causing them to fall out. Sadly, the future security of the other gemstones in this piece are also now compromised. Rather than investing in good quality setting up front the consumer will be paying for the cost of resetting and probably replacement stones for years to come, out of their own pocket.

Photo 3 is a close-up of a pair of earrings that were expertly set by Robert Kennedy of Pavection in Brisbane. This is an example of excellent quality setting work properly executed on a high-quality well prepared mount. Here the gems have been individually selected and sieved so they are precisely matched not only for colour, clarity, weight and diameter, but also their table sizes and crown height is consistent. These diamonds are seamlessly integrated into the overall beauty of the jewel, producing a beautiful, superior product.

When you are considering a piece of jewellery for purchase and want to make an informed decision ensure you carry out a careful examination of the item. Ultimately, high-quality diamonds will always be enhanced by excellent design, manufacture and setting. 

To make an appointment for a professional appraisal of your setting contact me on (07) 3162 5424.