Making your own jewelry is lots of fun and can give you a sense of real accomplishment. In addition to making jewelry for yourself and for gifts, many people have turned their hobby into a profitable business.
Jewelry castings and settings can be divided into two broad categories: snaptites and pre-notched castings. For the sake of simplicity, backset settings and cabochon settings are included in the pre-notched category.
Settings designed for faceted stones and those designed for cabochons are usually not interchangeable, although there are some exceptions. So if the stone you want to set is a cabochon, confine your search to cabochon settings only and vice versa.
The size and shape of your setting should match the size and shape of your stone; i.e., if your stone is a 10 mm. x 8 mm. oval faceted stone, you would look for either a 10 mm. x 8 mm. oval snaptite or a 10 mm. x 8 mm. oval pre-notched setting.
People often ask the question as to whether or not a stone that measures 9.8 mm. in length and 7.8 mm. in width will work with a 10 mm. x 8 mm. setting. The answer is yes. The rule of thumb is that you have leeway of 0.5 mm. either way. If the difference is greater than that, you will likely not have a good outcome. For example, if your stone is a 5 mm. x 4 mm. oval, you will have a very hard time finding a setting for it since that is not a standard size. The standard 5 x 3 oval won't work and neither will the standard 6 x 4 oval.
Snaptites are very popular because they are easy to use and do not require any special tools. A perfect choice for the beginner! A snaptite setting has tension built into the prongs so that the stone will "snap" into the setting and be held securely by the prongs.
Keep in mind that snaptites are designed for standard size stones only. Even experienced setters sometimes forget that stones have DEPTH as well as length and width. Snaptites are designed for well proportioned stones and will not work with stones that are deeper than the average.
You can easily check to see if your stone is too deep for the setting by placing your stone face down and placing the setting down next to it. Look at it at eye level and you will quickly see whether or not the stone is too deep for that particular casting. The stone should be no deeper than the bottom of the casting. In each of the following two examples, the stone is simply too deep for the casting and a successful outcome will be impossible.
A difference of as little as 0.5 mm. in depth can mean the difference between success and failure!
A gemstone must have a seat or groove or notch in the prong in order to sit properly in the setting. With a pre-notched casting, this "notch" has been made in the prong for you so that all you have to do is set the stone. No burs or files required!
Pre-notched castings require gem setting pliers in order to bend the prongs down over the stone to secure it. There are several types available. The "best" type to use is really a matter of preference.
You don't have to be a professional jeweler to successfully use pre-notched castings. However, it does take a bit of practice, so don't be discouraged if your first attempt is not perfect. Remember.......nothing ventured, nothing gained! And above all......have fun!