Gem Set Rigs : The Basics and an Industry Jargon Buster

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Gem Set Rigs : The Basics and an Industry Jargon Buster

In the next couple of months we will be giving you some tips on how to chose the engagement ring, that suits you and your lifestyle best. For now we will start with some basics, and get you familiar with some of the industry insider terms. 

Rings most typically of gold, silver or platinum, which are set with gems are called Gem set rings , most of which are purchased to be worn as engagement rings. Most are made of several separate parts which, when put together form a gem set ring. There are several terms that we will use regularly, so this is the time to familiarise yourself with them, as you will see them used very regularly. The illustration below shows a good side view  where the  component parts are named.  Head/Stone/Setting/Collet/Claws/Bezel/Shoulders/ShankThe part that stands up from the top of the finger is known as head of the ring. The head contains the stone and the stone is held in the setting.The setting consists of the collet which is best described as a cup in which the stone sits (like an egg in egg cup). The collet is usually pierced to allow light to travel into the gemstones from as many sides as possible. The stone is usually kept in the collet by means of the claws. These are points of metal which are bent down and over the top of the stone to grip it securely. The collect rests on a ring of metal known as the bezel. The two sides of the ring which come up to the head are the shoulders and these can be fancy or plain. Finally the band of metal that goes around the finger is called the shank.

Sometimes a ring is designed where the stone is held in place in a different way. A good alternative to claws is what is known as a rubbed over setting. In this the stone is held in place by a narrow rim of metal which holds the gemstone very securely without any risk of catching on clothes. Single stone rings are often referred as solitaires 

Although the parts are usually fairly consistent it does not mean that all rings are going to look the same. If look closely at different designs, you will see that there are so many other factors affecting the look of the final product, for example :

The colour of the metal

This may be all one colour or it could be a combination of two different colours. It is not unusual for some gems to be set in white metal with the shank in gold. Diamonds and sapphires are good examples of this. Diamonds can reflect the colour of the metal that is holding them so ideally you would now want a nice diamond to reflect a lot of yellow colour from its setting. In similar way yellow claws do not flatter a sapphire as much as white claws. There are no hard and fast rules about mixing two different metals in ring , sometimes the shank is in the gold while the setting is in platinum.

The shoulders of the ring

 May be plain, patterned or even set with tiny gem stones.

The Shank of the ring 

May be patterned or plain , sometimes having a finish applied 

The stones

 Can be varying is size and shape. Not all single – stone rings need be round.

The design of the collet 

Can also vary. Moreover , there are types of setting that designers like to experiment with, novel ways to hold the stones in place. Traditionally three , five and seven stone rings were set in line in single elongated setting like a stretched out collet. In the past these were made by hand and often finely engraved and pierced along their sides. Hence you will sometimes hear them described as having a carved setting or being a carved half hoop ring. 

Shapes and styles of cluster rings vary , you can get round, oval , square , star and heart, flower , pear or other fancy shapes and various combinations of stones. One very popular type of cluster ring contains a coloured gemstone, such as sapphire , surrounded by smaller diamonds.

A wide range of coloured gemstones are found in the centre of the cluster rings ranging from emeralds and rubies to aquamarines and turquoise. As with other gem rings the shoulders may be plain patterned or even set with diamonds or other stones. Again you can also find texture shanks and various choices of metal – gold , white gold , silver and platinum. In past centuries settings were often of silver , shanks of gold. This is unusual today but sometimes seen with reproductions of antique rings, in the days before white gold and platinum silver was the best choice to set off diamonds.

Cluster rings can be constructed in rather different ways to single stone rings Many are made with framed cage like settings or the tops can start out as domed or convex disc of metal with holes pierced in it to hold the stones.

Quite often the centre stone is set higher that those surrounding it, often by using extended claws. The part supporting the settings can be turned the under bezel or gallery. We quite often see what appear to be small, actually tiny, tubes separating bezels from rims or under shoulders. These little tubes are called chenier. Originally they were all hand made and assembled but today they are often just part of a single casting.

Right now you might feel like there is too much to consider but don’t worry, we will do our best to simplify and guide you, so you can make the perfect choice for your perfect person.

Source : The National Association Of Goldsmiths

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