How to Approach the Setting of a Custom-Faceted Gemstone
There are many reasons to purchase a custom faceted gemstone. You may have been unable to find your particular birthstone in a setting that you like. The colored gemstones available at the local jewelry stores might not be the right color, shape, size, gem material, etc. Perhaps you want a stone that was mined in your own state, or country. Very important is the fact that custom faceted gemstones, particularly those offered for sale by Mountain Lily Gems, show exceptionally fine craftsmanship; quality unequaled by native cut or automated machine cut stones. When high quality gem material is cut to exact angles and proportions, and given a fine polish, the resulting gemstone delivers tremendous scintillation and brilliance.
Assume you have decided that you want a particular gemstone for use in a ring, pendant, earring, or bracelet. How do you proceed in having that gemstone set? First, confirm that the gemstone you wish to use is suitable for the desired piece of jewelry. Soft gem materials are not suitable for everyday rings or bracelets that are subject to shock and abrasion. A blow to a soft apatite gemstone, set in a ring, could easily fracture and destroy the stone. On the other hand, apatite set in a pendant or earring, settings where damaging blows are unlikely, is perfectly suitable. If a gemstone merchant doesn't inform you of the suitability of a particular gemstone in a particular jewelry application; simply ask them or others in the trade (Mountain Lily Gems notes the suitability of each gem for a particular application).
Second, consider the size and shape of the gemstone. Gemstones faceted by automated machines are calibrated to specific sizes. For example; round gems might be 6, 8, 10, or 12 mm in size. Oval gems might be 8 x 6, 9 x 7, 10 x 8, 12 x 10 mm in size. Relatively inexpensive silver or gold findings (The metal part of the gem setting), in a variety of shapes and designs, can be ordered from supplier catalogs (Visit Tripps' web site to learn more about findings and setting gemstones). It is a very simple matter for a jeweler/metalsmith to order a ring or pendant finding for a calibrated (Standard size) gemstone, and to set that gemstone. The finding is mass produced (i.e. inexpensive) and it takes little effort (i.e. low labor cost) for your jeweler to set the stone. Setting an inexpensive calibrated 6 mm round almandine garnet in a simple 14K gold pendant can cost as little as $50 or less (Price includes stone, finding and labor).
Custom-faceted gemstones may, or may not, fit inexpensive mass produced findings. Check the dimensions of a custom faceted gemstone to determine if a standard finding is suitable (A tolerance of +/- 0.5 mm is acceptable. Metal prongs can be adjusted.). If a custom facetd gemstone has very unusual shape or dimensions; a custom setting would be required. If a jeweler must fabricate a metal setting, and incorporate that setting into a custom jewelry design, the cost will be much higher than using a catalog-ordered finding. Mountain Lily Gems suggests that you print a copy of the specifications and image of the gemstone of interest, take it to the jeweler or metalsmith of your choice, and obtain an estimate for the jewelry creation that you have in mind. High-quality, expensive, gemstones deserve to be showcased in high-quality settings.
Jewlers and metalsmiths are trained to sketch jewlery designs based on input from potential customers. Many jewelers now have computer graphic programs to expedite this process. We suggest that you visit several jewelers and ask to see photographs of custom designs that the jewelers have created in the past. (Take a look at our jewelry design gallery to see what some of our customers have done with their purchases.) If you contemplate having a relatively soft gemstone incorporated in your design (e.g. apatite, opal, etc.) ask the jeweler if they have successfully set such a gemstone in the past. In the event that the gemstone is damaged in the stone setting process, ask the jeweler what the store policy is to address the situation. Will the jeweler replace the stone, repair the stone, refund the cost of the stone, or is there no quarantee? This can be a very "thorny" issue if a one-of-a-kind gem is to be incorporated into a custom jewelry design. Selecting a talented and experienced jeweler will help avoid such unhappy events. The effort and time involved in designing and creating a custom piece of jewelery can be considerable (Not to mention the cost!). The pleasure of wearing a one-of-a-kind jewelry creation, a true family heirloom, can last forever.