Jewelry manufacturing has seen its share of changes over the course of history. However, many of the basic techniques used today have remained unchanged. While modern tools streamline the process the basic principles of casting, forming, grinding, filing, gemstone setting and polishing have endured for thousands of years.
The oldest survivor of this 6000 year old process is a copper frog cast in 3200 B.C. The most common technique used today is referred to as "Lost Wax Casting" or investment casting. This basic process is used in the making of jewelry, statues and industrial parts.
It begins with an original wax model of the desired piece. The model is then encapsulated in a molding material much like plaster with a small section attached known as a "sprue". The sprue will eventually create an opening in the mold. The mold with the model preserved inside is placed in an industrial oven which allows the wax to melt and burn away. Once burned away the hot mold is placed in a casting machine.
Under vacuum, molten metal is poured into the mold through the sprue opening to form an exact copy of the original wax model. The metal cools and once the mold is broken away it reveals the finished casting.
A practice as old as casting, primitive stone setting began in Eurasia with basic techniques of gem ornamentation in talismans, walls, and rudimentary jewelry. Early artisans would place stones into shallow caverns carved into wood and stone.
Over time their capabilities evolved into more advanced forms of inlay that eventually led to secure setting in metal. While the styles and strength of modern setting is far more advanced that its early predecessors the basic principles of today’s hand setting remain uncompromised. Learn more about the types of gemstone setting by following our helpful guide
Prong:The classic style of setting most popular in engagement rings. Metal prongs are formed over the girdle of a stone securing it above the ring. Many prefer this type of setting due to the superior visibility of the gem. In diamond rings it allows for maximum exposure to light which leads to a greater fire and brilliance. Prong setting is also commonly seen in the majority of diamond jewelry.
Channel:Used to secure a number of uniformly sized stones in rings and bracelets. The gems are nestled between continuous strips of metal ridged at the top and bottom to prevent them from moving.
Bezel: Most often used with round gems, the bezel setting completely surrounds a stone in a frame of metal. This provides a unique look and superior protection.
Half Bezel:Also known as a semi-bezel this style has exposed sides allowing more light to enter the stone.
Common Shared Prong: A close relative of classic prong setting in which diamonds share prongs on either side. This reduces the amount of metal that is visible and allows for additional light to enter each stone.
Pave: From the French of…allows to be close together in a cobblestone effect. A smaller version of common shared prongs and a favorite choice in engagement rings. Pave setting places rows of tiny prongs side by side allowing for a continuous, diamond encrusted surface of radiant sparkle.
Tension: A gravity defying diamond setting in which a stone is seemingly suspended in air without the support of a prong or channel. Tiny grooves are added to both sides of the supporting metal where the girdle will rest. The gold or platinum in a tension setting is metallurgically engineered to apply constant pressure to the stone securing it in place for ultimate visibility and light collection. (LINK TO GELIN ABACI?)
Gypsy: Today this style is more commonly referred to as flush setting, but we’re feeling nostalgic so we’re goin’ with it! Stones are deeply set into the metal leaving only the crown and table exposed.
Scallop: A solid piece approach to setting, scalloping requires a jeweler to form the prongs from the shank of the ring or bracelet. The metal is carved down to form scalloped apexes on either side upon which the gem is set. This style is commonly seen in antique and period pieces.
Trellis:This technique has become more common with the advent of computer aided design technology. It is characterized by an elegant latticework, or gallery, that provides support for stones..