We all know the stone is the centerpiece of the ring or piece of jewelry. The whole purpose of the setting is the showcase the stone – whether it is a diamond or other gemstone – in the most beautiful way possible. Although the setting is the frame to the masterpiece – if we are going to make analogies here – which we are, since I just did, the quality and beauty of the setting can make or BREAK the piece.
So, “how do I ensure I have a beautiful setting?” you ask. Here is your answer: make sure it’s handmade, NOT factory made. This is not to say that all jewelry that is machine or factory made is bad – I have seen beautiful pieces made from wax molds, just beware of the mass produced settings. This can be more challenging than you might think. Stores often say they make “custom” settings when really they just solder together different pieces of pre-made settings.
There are three different types of factory made settings: CAD/CAM (Computer Assisted Design/Computer Assisted Manufacturing), die struck (metal molds), and wax molds. Setting made this way can turn out bulky looking. In the process of making the settings bubbles can form in the metal. To cover up this eyesore these settings are often heavily engraved. Also, since these settings are made in bulk, the diamond or stone for the ring is chosen AFTER the setting is complete. The jeweler then just solders a top onto the setting that will fit whatever size stone is chosen. The result can look fragmented and the flow of the piece is sacrificed. Also, depending on the top the jeweler chooses the integrity of the ring can be compromised and the possibility of your diamond falling out increases...yikes!
Handmade settings – real handmade settings – have a cohesive look. Bubbles do not develop in the metal when it is hand stretched and formed so the settings are denser, yet much more refined and elegant. The level of detail that can be involved is on a whole different level.
A wise jeweler knows that, “you can tell how well made a piece of jewelry is by looking at the back of it.” If the detail and beauty of the back of the piece is as nice as the front, someone put work, time and love into it. You should be able to see the back of your stones from the back of the piece – these little holes let the light shine through your stones.
Choose the setting you love, just make sure you give yourself time to look around and explore. Once you have seen a handmade setting you will be able to see a major difference between factory and handmade.