What To Look For When Buying Quality Jewelry-Extended Part 3

Are you in the market to purchase a piece of fine jewelry with gems either for yourself or for that special someone?  Aside from the considerations of: design or look; gems of choice; and type of jewelry (Engagement Ring, Necklace, Pendant, Earrings, etc.), the quality of the craftsmanship should also be looked at carefully.  Some buyers prioritize on gem size and quality.  For those who do, I encourage you to review this article just so that you can understand some elements that will surround your gem of choice.  Some buyers prioritize the look of the jewelry: how blingy; how dainty; or how elegant, rather than the actual longevity of piece of jewelry.  For that special group that can afford that priority (Must be nice), I guess you can skip this article.  For all others who do want to prioritize quality but do not really know what to look for, this is the article to read.  Here are the 6 features or considerations to look for when buying quality fine jewelry with gems.

This article is part 3 of a longer article that will be posted at the completion of the all the parts.  For a summary, please see 6 Tips in What to Look For When Buying Quality Jewelry.  Please sign-up to receive the more detailed future posts.

3.  The Type of Setting Matters for the Longevity of Your Jewelry.

I know that when we buy jewelry with gemstones, we want to show the most amount of gemstone as possible.  There is a fine line though, between showing off the most amount of gem and keeping your gem/s secure.  Some types of settings show more of the gem/s than others but if you want to have a quality piece of jewelry that will last for a long time, considering the type of setting is important.

This opinion that I am about to provide will be very controversial to most people: The bigger the gemstone, the more the setting should cover the gem/s.  It is controversial because most folks want to show the least amount of metal around their gem of focus.  I usually do not recommend this.  I know that you spent a decent amount of money to purchase the gem but I feel that longevity is more important than showing-off.  

That means that a large percentage of engagement rings that are being sold with 4 prong or even some 6 prong settings are not to my "code."  Some exceptions to this rule are thick 4 prong settings (See left-Courtesy of Pampillonia Jewelers).  4 and 6 prong settings should be used more for non-wear-heavy jewelry but are usually used for the focal gem/s in rings.  For center gem/s, I usually recommend bezel, half bezel, or thick 4 prong settings.  Tension setting is also fine as they usually cover the gem significantly.  Engagement rings suppose to last the test of time so I want the settings to last a very long time. 

Now there are those who plan to buy an engagement ring for the short term for a wide range of reasons (like because they want something better, sooner.  No offense Aunt Judy).  For those on this trajectory, I guess none of this article applies to you.  For all others, I really recommend that you consider what type of setting maximizes the hold of your gem,

Wear-heavy jewelry needs to carefully consider the type of setting it utilizes.  If prongs or pave setting are utilized in wear-heavy jewelry, they should have a buffer from the edges that have the most wear.  The micro-pave trend that is happening now has many beautiful benefits, but I have many reservations of using this setting type in the edges of wear-heavy jewelry.  The tiny beads or prongs that hold the gem/s are just too small to be considered good quality if there is no metal buffer in the edges. 

There is no debate that the gem/s show beautifully in this type of setting, but it is inevitable that the beads/prongs will wear out and only highly trained jewelers will be able to replace those prongs.  I should know because I am one of those highly specialized jewelers that is able to replace those beads/prongs.  If the gem/s in question are color gemstones and not diamonds, the challenge escalates.


Although channel-set jewelry has gone out of fashion, gem/s set in this fashion are some of the most secure wear-heavy jewelry.  Burnish set wear-heavy jewelry should also have enduring quality as long as the burnish has been set with enough metal.  Non wear-heavy jewelry should be carefully evaluated by their type of setting as well.  In necklaces and pendants, you want to have a buffer on beads and prongs because otherwise they are prone to catch on clothes. On earrings, you should be freely chose whatever setting you prefer.

So this is the take-home point: 

The bigger the gem/s the more the setting should cover the gem.  Micro-pave and small prongs setting, in cases of heavier wear should have a buffer in the edges.

Now that we are focusing on the setting work.  There is one more feature regarding setting to carefully consider.  Stay tuned to the fourth installment.

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