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Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/Setting gemstones in rings/jewellery


Hello there,

I am an amateur in every sense of the word. I am a bit informed about clarity and hardness of gems, and I'm studying about casting rings.

I want to possibly do this as a side hobby.

However there are two questions that are bothering me at the moment.

Firstly; I am going to be working with Stainless steel (as gold and silver are way out of my budget at the moment) and I was wondering what stones compliment this metal more so? I really like semi-precious and precious stones and appreciate their beauty and would like to get the correct gems so their appearance is as complimented as possible.

Secondly; how would you go about securing the gemstone into place on the ring? I know that there has to be some form of setting for it to sit in originally, or I guess you could cast the gem into the ring during the casting process. But I struggle to believe that gems are just glued into place?

any help is much appreciated.

Thank you for your time.


Dear Ruzeen,

With prices of precious metals at record high prices, I understand you thought on using stainless steel.  However, stainless steel is one of the most difficult metals for jewelry work. Specialized equipment and methods must be employed to fabricate and braze or weld stainless steel and casting requires monetary investment in high priced equipment suitable for casting a high temperature melting metal. When components are joined by soldering, typically a higher temperature "soft solder" is used.  This is not welding or brazing but uses solders similar to that used for electrical connections but often containing silver, no lead, melting perhaps at 800f.   A stainless steel used in jewelry may melt in the range of 2600f. While welding is the preferred method of joining components, this requires either laser jewelry welding equipment or arc welding equipment(very small scale) with a cover gas such as argon covering the welding site to exclude oxygen while welding is underway.

Stones which will look good with the silvery color of stainless steel would be suited to any "white" jewelry metal.  That is a matter of personal selection and everyone has a different sense of what is most attractive.

Ruzeen, my suggestion is to begin with easier to work base metals such as copper, brass, bronze and nickel silver. (Ask a jeweler in the UK if nickle silver is allowed in costume jewelry. Regulations against metals allowing nickel contact on skin are in place for precious metal alloys.)  Once you become comfortable with working these metals, the step to silver will be an easy one.  Unfortunately, casting is still an expensive proposition and of the metals mentioned the only recommended metals for that would be bronze.

You are best beginning by learning to form and work the metal by fabrication. This is creation of items from forms and shapes you create from the metal, either using one piece of metal or joining several forms as would be done in silver or gold fabrication.  Casting and fabrication are totally different processes but techniques of fabrication are needed to properly and creatively finish and embellish cast objects.  A cast item is far from ready to wear and how to properly finish the metal to the look desired is learned in fabrication work.

The following website is in the USA, showing some base metals available. The next is a website I found by searching "base metal sukpplies for jewellery, uk".  The first site provides a good look at these metals. Working with brass and copper produce a more "arts and crafts" item but provide a good foundation for further work.

At this point, you need a basic class in jewelry making and/or a few good books with good illustrations. Also, search out a gem and mineral society club for advice. These organizations are generally local clubs made of interested people who collect gems and minerals, cut and polish semi-precious stones and make jewelry. That will possibly be a very good resource to get you started in the correct direction for success in a jewelry hobby.

Ruzzy, my answer is not exactly what you ask but is what you need at this point. You ask about stone setting: That topic is quite varied from making your own settings to using those made and sold by suppliers to hobbyists. That answer could comprise several books and is too long for allexperts answers. A good book on beginning jewelry making will include various means of securing stones to metal items.

Best wishes with this. God Bless and Peace.   Thomas.  

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Have a question about jewelry repair or working with precious metal jewelry and gemstones? For many years up to December 31, 2010, I was a working professional bench jeweler, involved everyday with setting stones in mountings, designing and making jewelry, repairing and limited custom manufacture. If you work with jewelry as a hobby or as a profession, I might be able to help. I deal with the retail business, not mass production. Ask privately if you wish. See the box for that: It keeps your question between us. Please DO NOT ask MAKER'S MARKS, but metal quality marks are fine to ask. Please DO NOT ask diamond prices. See a gemologist for that.


I have extensive experience in design, service and making of jewelry. I deal mostly with precious metals and gemstones but work with many materials as needed and usable to create an artistic design. My experience also includes freelance photography and photographer of jewelry and similar items for a former employer and individuals. Design of custom items requires reading the desires of the client and being clear on what can be done within that framework...then fulfilling the transition of idea to reality. Effective communications is essential in a working designer/producer and customer relationship.

Education is English/Physics! Started in human resources, to advertising, to, what a road. I have had formal training in jewelry work and many shared experiences with top grade jewelers. We just never know were we will go or be. Follow your best, your dreams, with some discretion! Don't let the work tear up your body along the way as it has mine.

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