Mineral Guide > Gems > Mounting of Gems

Mounting of Gems

After a gem has been cut, the question of its proper mounting and setting must next be considered. While some gems are worn unmounted, as for instance the pearls of a necklace, the great majority are set in metal. This work is the especial art of the goldsmith or jeweler, and the laity usually take little pains to be informed in regard to it. There is room, however, for the development of a much higher taste in these matters than exists at present.

The average buyer is content to know that the article which he purchases contains a sapphire, emerald, or diamond, representing so much intrinsic value, without considering whether the best use of it, from an artistic point of view, has been made; or whether for the same outlay much more pleasing effects might not have been obtained from other stones.

In the grouping of gems, with regard to effects of color, luster, texture, etc., certain combinations often seen are far from ideal, while others rarely seen would be admirable. Thus a combination of the diamond and turquois is not a proper one, since the opacity of the latter stone deadens the luster of the former. The cat's-eye and diamond make a better combination, and so do the more familiar diamond and pearl. Colorless stones, such as the diamond or topaz, associate well with deep-colored ones, such as amethyst and tourmaline, each serving to give light and tone to the other. Diamond and opal as a rule detract from each other when in combination, since each depends upon " fire " for its attractiveness.

Methods of mounting gems may be described as being essentially two in number, one the mount a jour, and the other the encased mount. The mount a jour, so called from two French words meaning to the light, is illustrated in the well-known manner of setting ring stones, by which the stone is held in place by a circlet of claws, exposing it to view on all sides. This mounting is especially suited to colorless and transparent stones without flaws, as it allows the freest play of light upon them, and permits their beauties to be fully seen.

Jewels set in this way are, however, in greater danger of being lost, since the gem cannot be quite as firmly held as in the encased mount. In the encased mount the stone is set in a metal bed with only the top exposed. This mount is familiarly seen in many articles of jewelry. Being cemented to the metal bed, the stone is in less danger of loss or injury than in the mount a jour, With the encased mount the effect of the stone can be much enhanced by the use of foils and paints, and many defects can be made invisible.

Thus black specks in a stone can be overcome by setting against a black background, while a gold foil serves to bring out the fire of a garnet, for example, as an a jour setting could not. In all this work of setting gems and overcoming their defects, the Oriental peoples especially excel, and have done so for centuries. Examples of their work furnish, as a rule, the best models for study.