Learn inside tips on how to create and make your own gorgeous custom gemstone ring.
Many people spend ten times the amount on a beautiful gemstone ring that has been priced to sell in retail environments, when, with a little instruction, they could actually create their own beautiful genuine gemstone ring for next to wholesale cost. Here's what you need to know.
Shop for your loose gemstones first
Start with a loose gemstone, or multiple loose gemstones first. Deciding what type of stones you want to mount into a ring setting is the first step. Are you looking for a particular cut or size of stone? Stones are sized by the millimeter and karat weight. Weight doesn't matter as much as millimeter measurement unless the buyer is choosing diamonds and then carat weight is just as crucial as clarity. If the cuts are not in a calibrated size, the stone likely won't fit into a traditional ring setting which can be quite pricey in the long run because most ring settings would need to be modified by professional jewelers to fit the stone. With this situation, most jewelers will use a larger prong setting to accommodate the stone which adds to the likeliness of the stone someday falling out. Calibrated stones are your best option, although there are some settings that can work for off-calibrated stones. For example, a four prong ring setting will work better for an off-calibrated round cut gem rather than a six prong setting because it gives more room for fitting the stone into the ring.
Simple shapes are easiest to work with if you're using an off-calibrated stone such as rounds and princess cut which is also known as square. For cushion cuts which are similar to emerald cut but the edges are rounded, calibrated sizes are really important. Just a slight variation in mismeasurement can mean the difference in whether or not the stone can be mounted at all because prong settings can only stretch so far beyond their intended shape and size. With cushion cut stones, or other stones like heart shape or emerald cut, they can look quite awkward in a setting if their measurement is off. Prongs on one side will appear to stretch way across the top of the stone while other prongs may just barely fit over top. This can lead to a stone being prone to abrasions or even coming loose and falling out, as well as sitting off-centered and tilted.
It's very easy to know whether or not a stone is calibrated, even if it is not mentioned in the literature that comes with the stone. Calibrated stones are measured in single numbers. For example, a common cushion cut appears in sizes of 7 x 5, 6 x 4, 3 x 5. And rounds appear in 6mm, 8mm, 4mm and so on. If a stone is not calibrated, it will be listed like this: 7.23 x 5.45 or rounds that give multiple measurements like 6.23 x 6. 25 x 6. 76. This shows uneven cuts when it should be a simple 6mm all the way around. This stone can still be mounted, but it would require a larger setting such as a 6.5mm or 7mm round setting to accommodate the size of the cut.
With all stones, symmetry is very important.Just the slightest variation can throw off the visual appeal as well as light dispersion. Stones that appear to have many dark spots or even black that cuts off color and vitality of the stone is an effect called "light leakage" which is caused by a poor cut that is usually located through the back of the stone. And on the other end of the spectrum, a stone that appears too clear with little luster has also been given a poor cut and can appear dull or lifeless.
Look for a stone with good symmetry and then move on to clarity. Some stones don't show inclusions as much as others but this is important if you're looking especially for a center stone. Accent stones don't matter so much because they are much smaller and can hide inclusions just by a small size alone. However, for center stones or accent stones that are larger than 3mm, clarity will be important. The lighter the shade of the stone, the more visible inclusions will be. For example, with dark blue sapphires or even black stones like black spinel or black diamonds, clarity doesn't affect the beauty of the stone unless the blemishes are in the table or surface of the stone.
Certificate of Authenticity
If you're creating a ring with a very valuable stone or set of stones, you'll want a certificate of authenticity for your gem. Many sellers online have beautiful specimens, but if you end up with a stone that isn't what it claims to be, especially if it is being ordered from another country, you'll want to be sure you have a certificate that authenticates that that gem is what it says it is. This is especially important for people who are intending to resell the ring.
Natural or Lab Created?
Make sure that when you order your stone or stones, that you learn whether or not the stone was naturally mined or if the stone has been lab created. This is important mainly for price reasons. Many people don't really mind if the stone has been grown in a lab rather than formed in nature but for those that do, each seller of the stones should be able to provide this information. Stones that have been mined in nature will be more expensive because of the process it takes to bring the stone from the rough into a cut and polished state. Lab grown gems are still the real deal. They are not to be confused with synthetic which would mean they are "fake". Lab grown gems have the same chemical properties as natural created gems and usually the only way to discern the difference is through specific gemological tests, and even then, sometimes it's difficult.
Choosing a Ring Mounting
Now it's on to the rest of the creation of the ring. Depending on how deep your center stone is, you'll know what type of mounting you'll need to get. So, if you have a rather deep stone, you'll need to choose a mounting that sits high up off the finger and likewise, for stones that are shallow (which I don't recommend buying to begin with due to light leakage and poor saturation of the color of the stone), you'll want a mounting that sits more flush with the shank of the ring.
Some rings already come with accent stones such as diamonds that just need a center stone mounted in. And then there's other settings that give room for accent stones. Some people choose to have jewelers mount their stones for them just to feel more secure about the stones fitting properly. Most settings have prongs that need to be shifted very lightly with tweezers to set the stone. Be careful though, the prongs can be broken if they are moved too far or rough, and then you're out of a ring. The stones should be placed very gently inside the center of the mounting and then using the tweezers, the prongs should be pressed tightly over the stone. Some prongs need to be shifted more than others to be even. Depending on the hardness of the gem, you'll want to watch your movements in the mounting process, as not to scratch or even chip the stone.
Sterling silver is the most inexpensive mounting and they are quite easy to keep clean and polished. Be aware though, never dip a whole ring into silver cleaner if you're using a liquid solution because it can be abrasive to your beautiful stones. So, if using the liquid, hold the ring and only dip the shank down in. Do not let the stone get wet. Cleansing cloths are great for polishing! And they are inexpensive too. They remove the oxidation that Sterling silver is prone to without the risk of damaging the stone.
Of course there is also selections of white gold and yellow gold which are available in different karat amounts. With yellow gold, the higher the karat, the softer and more fragile the ring is because gold is a soft metal. So, 10kt or 14kt is ideal.
Most mountings are plated which means it has a brass base and is dipped in the appropriate metal such as silver or gold. White gold is similar but has been treated with chemicals that give it that silver appearance.
And then there's platinum which holds up best over all the others.
Watch for Allergies
On a side note, many people are allergic to Nickel so be sure when you're ordering mountings, find out whether or not they are Nickel plated or Nickel free. Many companies don't disclose it, but list products that have it. So just be aware.
Where to Look
Finding your stone and mounting can be as easy as a mouse click away. With the ease and long-armed reach of the internet, most wholesalers or jewelry suppliers will list their findings online and this creates a huge pool of selections to choose from.
Ebay is a great place to shop. Or, just using a search engine by using key words that pertain to "loose gemstones", "ring mountings", or "jewelry settings" can be a great place to start. Ebay prefers PayPal as a payment method so you'll need a PayPal account to shop for what you're looking for.
Many suppliers are foreign outside the United States so read shipping and return policies carefully in case you are not satisfied with the shipment. This is also important for return policy timelines. Some policies will give a 30 day money back guarantee but be sure that means AFTER you have received your order, not from the date your order has been placed because some shipments outside the country will take weeks to arrive.
Catalogs are also great too. If you find a jewelry or stone company that you like and they offer a catalog for buyers, order one, even if you need to pay for shipping. Many wholesale companies will offer free catalogs but some retail companies will require a fee.
Word of mouth works great too and just remember, you don't have to pay jewelry store prices to get jewelry store quality. Retail jewelry stores have to charge more to cover their other costs of doing business and that rolls down hill to the consumer but you can find something just as beautiful without the high price.
A Last Note
If you order a rare or highly valuable stone, get it appraised after it arrives and be sure to do so during your return policy timeline. This will give you a good idea of whether or not you have made a wise investment. Many people choose to get appraisals by at least two separate graduate gemologists for comparison. And lastly, it may be wise to have your gem insured. If you do, insure it separately from the whole ring. This will ensure accurate coverage in case the stone falls out or is stolen.