AZGem Gems
August, 2002
The World's Most Useful
Gem & Jewelry Monthly Newsletter

Written by Carolyn Doyle for customers of
The Dorado Company
and other visitors to the website who subscribe.


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Usable Gems... and a little opinion.


Gem Setting

Gem setting is the art and skill of securely (and attractively) mounting a gem in a piece of jewelry.

It's been mentioned to me that we've talked about gems and we've talked about mountings... but we haven't covered how the two become a piece of jewelry.

So we'll cover it in this issue. I'll walk you through how our 7 mm studs are made.

We start by having a large number of colored stones of various kinds cut to our specs.

The size is 7 mm, the shape is round, the cut varies... some are brilliant cut and some are a mixed cut (usually with a brilliant crown and double step cut pavilion).

Then we order 14k yellow gold stud mountings and backs from a high quality US producer.

Then we take 100 gems and mountings to our goldsmith to have the gems set. If we take more than 100 pieces at a time it makes his eyes water!

Now you need to know a little about a goldsmith (also known as a  bench jeweler or trade shop).

These craftspeople perform most of their magic at a specialized work bench called a jeweler's bench, surrounded by their specialized tools.

One of the most used gem setting tools is a flex shaft machine. That's it standing above the jeweler's bench at left.

The machine consists of a motor at the top, a flexible shaft that turns when the motor turns, and a hand piece on the other end of the shaft.

The hand piece ends in a set of adjustable jaws (like a drill) that holds tiny drill bits, saw blades, and burs... something like a dentist's drill.

Burs are rotary files used in gem setting to cut notches in the side of gold prongs.

To set a gem in a stud, the goldsmith test fits the gem between the prongs. (If the gems weren't all exactly 7 mm, he might bend the prongs in or out a tiny bit.) 

He notices, or maybe even marks on the inside of each prong, where the girdle of the gem meets the prong.

He uses the flex shaft machine and a bur to notch the inside of each prong. He then removes any stray gold filings from around the notch.

The notches must be...

  • The proper size to fit the girdle of the gem being set
  • The proper shape to fit the gem being set
  • All cut at the same height on each prong, so the gem sits level
  • Far enough down the prong to form a bent tip above the gem
  • Far enough up the prong to keep the gem's culet from touching the mounting  

He places the gem's girdle in the notches, and using special pliers bends each prong over gently until it touches and holds the gem.

He completes the job by using a cup shaped bur to round over the tip of each prong.

Finally he does a quality check to make sure the prongs won't catch on hair or clothing.


Birthstone Rings

You can now buy birthstone rings at The Dorado Company. As usual, these rings are a great deal!

Each birthstone ring proudly displays an oval shaped 6 x 4 mm birthstone in a beautiful 14 kt yellow gold mounting.

These beautiful rings are executed in a lovely bypass design, with two diamond accent stones.

See them now at

Carolyn Doyle

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The Dorado Company
P.O. Box 8232
Scottsdale, AZ 85252-8232