Settings & Finishing

Introduction to Settings

Stone Setting is an art of firmly ascribing or fixing a gemstone into jewelry with a goal to present the highest beauty of a stone. Each and every piece of jewelry that encloses a gemstone has a setting and this setting plays a significant task in improving the appeal of a jewelry piece. The oldest technique of connecting gemstones to jewelry was bezel setting. But in modern times, jewelry designers have developed various other appealing methods of stone setting. The most commonly used setting methods include prong setting, bezel setting, channel setting, pave setting, tension setting etc.

Objectives of Stone Setting




Beauty Enhancement



One of the main objectives of a stone setting is to increase the beauty and radiance of gemstones and develop the appearance of metal designs. Stone setting should allow the highest light to reflect from various angles, which is entering in a gemstone. In most cases, prong setting is considered the best fit for showing the brilliance of a gemstone as it allows optimal amount of light to pass through the gemstone.

Safety of a Gemstone


Setting should also protect gemstones against any loss or damage due to wear and tear. Setting must hold a gemstone firmly and securely so that there should not be any chance of losing a gemstone from its grip. As well as, stone settings should provide safety to gemstones from any harm or scratches due to any blow or calamity. Bezel setting is considered the safest setting style for a gemstone, especially if the surface of the gemstone is below the surface of the bezel or metal.

User Friendly

Setting should also be user friendly as well as safe for other objects. Stone setting must provide comfort and alleviate to its wearer and should not have sharp edges which can harm other objects like skin, cloths etc.


Cover up the Stone’s Weaknesses



Setting should hide or cover up the weaknesses, if any, of a gemstone. Weaknesses like blemishes / inclusions in stone, improper cut etc. deteriorate stone and jewelry’s value and a setting style should try to cover up these imperfections as much as possible.


Stone Setting Methods

Stone setting is one of the fundamental stages of jewelry making, in which gemstones are attached in a metal casting. The main objective of stone setting is to hold a gemstone securely as well as to enhance the brilliance of a gemstone by showing its cut, clarity and color. Jewelry manufacturers use numerous methods to set a gemstone into a jewelry item, which generally is based on gemstone's cut and proportion. Some of these methods and techniques are accepted and appreciated worldwide, which are described as under:

Prong Setting:   

Prong setting, also known as claw setting, is the most popular and common method of setting stones into jewelry. It is the simplest as well as least expensive method of setting a gemstone. Also it allows the finest amount of light to pass through the gemstone, showing the gemstone at its utmost brilliance. This setting style is used for all types of jewelry items and mostly for solitaire engagement and bridal rings. 



This setting often has 3, 4 or 6 small evenly spaced metal claws or prongs that are bent over the girdle to firmly hold the gemstone in a piece of jewelry. These claws and prongs are comparable in shape and size and attached to the central base part, known as the head or basket, of a piece of jewelry. These heads or baskets are obtainable in various shapes and sizes varying on stone's shape and size. Frequent shapes of heads or baskets used in stone setting include round, emerald cut, princess cut, oval, marquise cut, pear shaped and trilliant cut. Each claw or prong extends upward and outward from the head and arching over the gemstone to form a secure and lasting grip. Prongs with platinum metal is considered very strong as platinum is a very dense and solid metal and its thin wires are adequate to hold the gemstone securely in its place whereas gold prongs with sufficient alloys also give a strong grip. 



Finishing is the procedure in which surface of a piece is polished cleaned or textured. Finishing is the concluding step of jewelry manufacturing process and usually all jewelry items compel finishing. Finishing is very fundamental part of a jewelry developing process as it gives brilliance and beauty to a jewelry piece. Finishing is accomplished under various stages, which are described as under:

Metal Finishing

Metal Finishing covers any procedure or motion that alters the surface of a metal piece to attain a certain property or appearance. Metal finishing is preformed after a metal cast has been formed. Metal finishing covers many procedures like cleaning, soldering, plating, texturing etc. These processes are described as under:


Cleaning of metal casting indicates to all operations and activities that are achieved to remove sand, scale and / or excess metal from the casting. In jewelry making, cleaning is a continuous development used at various stages. Casting comes for cleaning either precisely from separated mold or after improvement by welding, soldering or other methods. Burned-on sand and scale are removed to improve the surface appearance of the casting whereas excess metal, in the form of fins, wires, parting line fins and gates, is also removed. Cleaning of metal casting can be done by many ways:


Pickling is a process in which chemicals are used to eliminate oxide and carbon deposits from metal to attain a clean surface. This process will also remove all of the fire stain and oxidation caused by the soldering. In this process, a metal piece is immersed in a heated acid solution, usually acetic, citric or nitric acid. The acid solution is then removed by rinsing the metal piece in cool water as well as in limewater to neutralize any remaining acid. But due to the environmental reasons, shot blasting has largely replenished pickling.

Sand Blasting

Sandblasting is a wide-ranging term used for the course of cleaning, smoothing or etching a hard surface by compelling very fine bits of solid material across that surface at high speeds. Sandblasting technique gives batter finish than the finish attained by using sandpaper. In Sandblasting method, sand is the most commonly used material but sometimes other moderately uniform particles like synthetic beads, bits of coconut shell etc are also used. Sandblasting as a smoothing and cleaning method which is widely used where small bits of abrasive launched at the metal or other surfaces at a high velocity so that all dirt, flaws are knocked loose and can then be easily washed off. Whereas sandblasting as an etching technique is also very popular and usually applied onto crystal or glass. In etching process, abrasive is blasted at the crystal or glass lightly to turn it semi-opaque and this semi-opaque result is used to produce words or images on that crystal or glass.

Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning insinuates to cleaning of metal casting through steam and it is suitable for removing oily or greasy residue.

Soap Water Cleaning

Soap water cleaning denotes to cleaning of metal casting by using mild soap detergent in water.  Supercritical fluid cleaning refers to cleaning of metal casting with small openings or complex design. This cleaning process is used mainly on liquid contaminants like petroleum, silicone, lubricants, waxes etc.

Ultrasonic Cleaning

It refers to the cleaning of a metal piece by using ultrasonic cleaners. Ultrasonic cleaner is a machine which uses a fluid that is vibrated at 20,000 cycles per second. When the vibration speed rises above the ultrasonic frequency level, bubbles explode and generate strong power, cleaning the surfaces and cavities of hard-to-clean metal pieces. This cleaning does not scratch the surface or harm metal pieces.


Metal polishing is the process of rubbing a metal piece to make it smooth and shiny as well as reduce the appearance of imperfections.


Tumbling is the process used to get brightness and shine in a metal piece. This process primarily uses steel shots and does not eliminate any metal in the form of fins or gates from the metal piece.

Bombing or Stripping

Both bombing and stripping methods are used to brighten metal pieces predominantly by way of cyanide and water baths. However, bombing removes metal and enhances the entire piece evenly but stripping tends to remove more metal from the high points such as prongs.


Buffing refers to the use of grease compound in combination with wheels to harvest very smooth polished surface. It is the finishing step in the professional process.


Soldering is a method, used by jewelers, in making and repairing jewelry. By using this technique, two or more metal pieces are joined by applying a molten metal or metal alloy that has a lower melting point than the two metals being joined. This molten metal structures a bond when cooled and solidified. Soldering is also used in adding findings or links in a metal piece.


In terms of jewelry, plating is the method to cover or coat a thin layer of a metal to another metal surface mainly for the enhancing purposes.

Techniques of Plating


Electroplating is the process where inexpensive metals are regularly electroplated or coated with a thin layer of more lavish metals like gold (gold plating), silver (silver plating), rhodium (rhodium plating), copper (electro coppering) etc. In this process, an electric current is flown to coat an electrically conductive metal object with a relatively thin layer of precious metal.

Electroless plating


Electroless plating is the chemical accumulation of a metal coating onto a metal piece using chemical reactions rather than electricity.

Other Plating Techniques

Some other techniques are also used for plating like chemical plating, electrochemical plating, and mechanical plating, spray plating, hot dip plating etc.

Specific Metal Plating




Gold Plating    


Gold plating is a technique of depositing a gold layer of .175 microns (approximately 7/1,000,000ths of an inch) with at least 10-karat gold onto the surface of another metal, utmost often silver or copper, by chemical or electrochemical mode.

Silver Plating

Silver plating is a technique of depositing a silver layer on other metal surface mainly for decorative purposes on jewelry and household items.

Rhodium Plating

Rhodium is a noble metal, from the platinum family, with a whitish gray appearance. Rhodium, in raw natural state, comes in liquid state and not in solid state like platinum. In jewelry industry, rhodium is very widespread plating metal which gives very smooth, shiny and luxurious look, just like platinum, to a metal piece. This metal is pertained through the electroplating procedure to base metals like gold, sterling silver or some other metal alloy. This rhodium plating gives a silver tone finish, which is darker than a silver plated finish and darkens with time rather than tarnishing like silver plate. Rhodium plating is virtually identical to Platinum but on a fraction of the cost and frequently it is used on fashion rings and brooches.

Chrome plating

Chrome plating is a technique of depositing a thin layer of chromium on other metal surface mainly for giving a bright and glossy metallic surface, which is highly resistant to tarnish.

Other Metal Plating

Some other metals are also used for plating or coating a metal surface. For Example, zinc, tin etc.


Florentine Finish

A Florentine finish is a crosshatched decorative method engraved into the surface of a treasurable metal. It is usually pertained by a hand tool and consist a series of parallel lines engraved in two directions perpendicular to each other. This finish reduces the reflectivity of metal and the lines are often coarser and more deeply incised than the matte finished or brush methods.

Hammered Finish

A hammered finish is a texture applied to the surface of a metal piece with a hammer to give it a dimpled look. A hammered texture gives the reaction of a series of small depressions in the metal. This finish is varied from light to deep hammering texture and usually increases the size of the metal piece. 

High Polish Finish

A high polish finish is super shiny and smooth polish applied to a metal surface that gives a highly reflective and mirror-like finish.

Satin Finish

Satin finish is a texture of a metal surface that is in between matte finish and a brilliant one. It is a series of tiny parallel lines scratched onto a metal surface with a wire brush or polishing tool to produce texture. Satin finish is achieved by various means and methods like sandblasting, wire brushing or chemically altering a shiny metallic surface. This finish gives impression of a soft, pearl-like luster instead of a bright polish.

Matt or Brushed Finish

A matte finish, also known as a brushed finish, is a texture applied to metal surface, which gives a dull and non-reflective finish. Matte finish is achieved either by a chemical process or by using an abrasive material to scratch the top layers of the piece. Stone Finishing Stone Finishing covers any operation or activity that adjust the characteristics of the gemstone to attain a definite property or look. Stone finishing is preformed after a gemstone is mined. A well cut and polished stone is contemplated to have a beautiful finish. Some of the popular stone finishing ways are described as under:

Stone Cutting & Polishing

Cut refers to the finish of a gemstone and geometric proportions. It is one of the most significant factors in defining gemstone’s brilliance and sparkle. The stone should be symmetrical in all dimensions so that it will appear balanced, and so that its facets will reflect light evenly, which will provide good brilliance to stone. A person who cuts and polishes rough gemstone and converts it into a finished gemstone is known as lapidary or cutter. Usually all gemstones are polished and cut with grits of harder substances. Since diamond is the hardest substance, it is often used to polish most gems, including the diamond itself.

A lapidary uses many techniques like drilling, sawing, grinding, tumbling, sanding, lapping and polishing to cut and provide the surface finishing to these gemstones. These techniques are explained as under:


Gemstone sawing is a method of gemstone cutting in which a thin circular blade usually composed of steel, copper or a phosphor bronze alloy impregnated along the outer edge with diamond grit and is rotating at several thousand surface feet per minute literally scratching its way through a gemstone. A liquid material such as water or oil is used to wash away cutting debris and keeping the stone and the saw blade cool to avoid overheating.


Drilling is a method used to make a hole in a gemstone either to create a bead or to remove inclusions. To drill in a gemstone, gem-cutters often use a small rotating tube or rod with a diamond tip or slurry of silicon carbide. Ultrasonic drilling is also very effective but costly and thus it is reserved for high-volume commercial drilling.


In this process, large quantities of rough shaped stones are often tumbled slowly in a rotating barrel or in a vibratory machine with sharp abrasives (usually silicon carbide) and water for days or even weeks. After this process, these stones are finished in very appealing shapes. In vibratory machines, it is much easier to observe the progress of stones inside while machines are on whereas standard tumblers must be halted in order to check progress of the stones. In addition to polishing gemstones, tumbling is frequently used to polish large quantities of metal jewelry. 


Gemstone grinding is a very important procedure in which silicon carbide wheels or diamond-impregnated wheels are used to convert a rough gemstone into a desired shaped gemstone. This is called perform. This method is a liquid material such as oil or water is used to wash away cutting debris and keeping the stone and the blades cool to avoid overheating.


Sanding is a procedure that is very much similar to grinding the process but it uses sharper tools. The purpose of sanding is to remove deep scratches left behind from sawing and grinding processes. This process removes material less rapidly, which ultimately allows more delicate control over final shaping of the stone prior to polishing. It polishes to create smooth curves and avoids flat surfaces.


Lapping is the process, which is very similar to grinding and sanding. The only difference is that this procedure is performed with low pressure on one side of a vibrating or rotating flat disk known as a lap, and it is used particularly to create flat surfaces on a stone (as in faceting). Laps are often made of cast iron, steel, or a copper-bronze alloy, but other materials can also be used.


Polishing is a method used to provide a mirror like shine and finish to the surface of a gemstone to expose light. This procedure begins once a gemstone is sawed and given the anticipated shape and sanded to remove rough marks. Polishing is attained either by rubbing a gemstone with powder or grit, or against another gemstone. 

Stone Treatments / Enhancements

Natural flawless gemstones are very rarely accessible. Gemstones are mined in a very rough state and they compel stone finishing by several ways to enrich the durability and appearance of stones. Some of these treatments or enhancements are permanent in nature whereas others are temporary. Gemstone enhancement has become very common and accepted practice and these days, vast majority of the gemstones are treated in some way before setting into a jewelry piece. According to the Federal Trade Commission's Guides for the Jewelry Industry, jewelers must disclose to the consumer all gemstone treatments that are non-permanent or require special care. On the contrary, jewelers are not required to disclose permanent treatments that don't require special care. It's important to remember that most gemstone enhancements greatly improve the appearance and hence the value of a stone.


Heating is one of the eldest and most shared treatment methods used to enhance the natural beauty of gemstones. It is a permanent procedure that can significantly improve color and/or clarity in a number of stones, including sapphire, ruby, diamond, aquamarine, amethyst, tanzanite, topaz, and tourmaline.


Irradiation is a permanent procedure in which gemstones are exposed to radiation usually to improve color. Irradiation is frequently used on smoky quartz, freshwater pearls, yellow beryl, diamonds, blue topaz and pink to red tourmaline.


Diffusion is a process in which surface color of gemstones is enriched through the use of chemicals in conjunction with high temperatures. This treatment is frequently used for rubies and sapphires.


Fracture-filling is an enhancement process in which cavities or fractures are filled in a gemstone with an artificial substance like glass, plastic etc. This process is often used on diamonds to make flaws less visible.

Laser Drilling

Laser drilling is the permanent process of drilling holes into a stone with a laser to remove inclusions. This treatment is most commonly used for diamonds.


Oiling is one of the oldest treatment methods used to enhance the color, smoothness and hide surface cracks of a gemstone. This treatment is often used on emeralds.

Dying / Bleaching

Dying or Bleaching is a process in which stones are dyed or bleached to improve their color or appearance. This treatment is often used on porous materials like jade, pearls, amber, coral, ivory etc.