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Setting an Aquamarine

Hi all

can someone put a price on a 9.9 ct flawless untreated aquamarine,
emerald cut.

Going by my gem dealers catalogue I think about $7,000 USD retail.
But as it untreated it could be worth more.

I will set it in Argentium. As I do not keep this value of stone in
my possession the customer will bring the stone to my workshop while I
make the setting and then take it home while I finish the setting.
Then bring it back for the setting.

Here is something cool, my daughter does facials and foot massages
so while I make the setting the customer will get a facial and foot
massage. My daughter has a room in the house where the workshop is
dedicated for this. She charges more than me per hour go figure. And
the ladies think she is so inexpensive.

all the best

Richard-It’s time to raise your prices.

-Jo Haemer

That’s an awesome combo. People could get their rings repaired while
they get pampered. That fast turnaround would be a rush charge though
in our store. Sounds like you are just making a sketch for her

I will set it in Argentium. As I do not keep this value of stone
in my possession... 

Silver is a beautiful color and a wonderful metal to work with. But
there are reasons why very expensive stones are not so often set in
silver. Namely, it’s soft enough it just doesn’t wear as well as the
other jewelry metals. I recall someone once estimating that if a
single ring were made in silver, and it would last 3 years (arbitrary
number for comparison, but accurate for many rings) before being worn
to the point of needing repair, then the same ring in yellow gold
might last 6 years. And in white gold 10 years. And in platinum, 15
to 20 years. Whether these numbers are accurate or whether the ratios
are even accurate is of course debatable, and vary due to many
factors. But the bottom line is that things like delicate silver
bezels or even heavier prongs in silver, simply won’t hold up well
over time compared to how they’d hold up in the harder metals.
Setting a 7 thousand dollar stone in silver would be something you
don’t often see for just this reason. Personally, for the color of
aquamarine, I’d prefer either platinum or 18K yellow gold, depending
on the design and color of the stone. Either would last a lot longer,
and protect the stone better, than the same mounting in silver.

Peter Rowe

Peter et all!

Setting this shown 5.25 ct. Emerald was a little challenge, it had
deep inclusion inside the Pavilion, near the point. Two other setters
refused to even touch it! This stone today, would be worth about
$15,000. I took on this project, why?

It was in 18karat. very soft to carve the ‘bearings’ inside the
Estimated time to set this stone was (estimate) 2.5 hours.
Today I would charge at least $300.00 or more!!!

-A point to think about, I made bearing-cuts inside the bezel
wallexactly where the facet-edges/corners would have touched the
bezel-. I didn’t want any ‘stress’ put on this stone. anywhere!!!

Gerry Lewy

Peter Rowe- You make a good point about setting a 7 thousand dollar
stone in silver.

The only silver I would set it in would be Continuum Silver. I’ve
found it’s as hard as 14 kt white gold when properly kiln hardened.
I’d love to see Stuller promote this metal more. I’d also would like
to see them do some experiments on the wear ability with center
stones set in it as well.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

I'd also would like to see them do some experiments on the wear
ability with center stones set in it as well. 

Agreed. The wearability/hardness/durability is a complex issue. It’s
not just hardness. It relates also to toughness, malleability,
density, and the rest.

Consider annealed platinum. Not exceptionally hard, but jewelry made
from it can outlast other metals simply because instead of wearing
away, the metal just kinda moves around. Prongs seem thinner over
time because the metal tends to mushroom over, but in so doing, also
tends to form itself even more intimately around the stone, so even
when it seems worn, it may still be quite secure. And parts that in
other metals would be worn thin, are merely deformed a bit, with
most of the metal still there. I like to estimate all this by how the
metal behaves in polishing. If the abrasive and buffing operations
with polishing happen easily and quickly, then the metal might also
be expected to wear down more quickly and easily. Silver tends to
behave this way (so long as we ignore the way it sometimes is hard to
get a perfect polish because the tiniest contaminant on the buff
scratches it again…)


Hi all

I would prefer to set the Aquamarine in 18 kt yellow. But the
customer wants silver so Argentium is the choice I will heat harden
the metal before I set the stone.

Also as it is a pendant a good strong bail should make it last.

all the best

Hi all

met the recipient of the aquamarine today. Does not like silver.

And wants a ring not a pendant. And something really special etc.

So to save myself the grief sent her to a master goldsmith and told
her it could cost up to $5,000 to have the stone set into a unique 18
kt yellow ring.

Thats what you get when a master goldsmith makes some thing for you.

I could have done a really good job of bezel setting the stone in a
ring in 18 kt but the customer wants more. My price was $1500. I
prefer simple settings to show off the stone. My customers whose
diamonds I set really like simple settings, biggest I have done is a 4
ct cushion cut.

The client really liked the referral. So win win for all of us.

Speaking of master goldsmiths google studio arete - heirloom pendent
[sic] the link for the videos is

There is a short video of the finished pendant in the blog. But what
is interesting is the setting of the sapphire in video 62. I have
never seen that method before. About $7000 of labour.

all the best

Speaking of master goldsmiths google studio arete - heirloom
pendent [sic] the link for the videos is 

Are all of his videos without sound? A running commentary would have
been nice…

Janet in Jerusalem

Are all of his videos without sound? A running commentary would
have been nice... 

Funny, isn’t it, about people. Give them a gift and often, they
wonder if they can have more. How about simply being grateful that
Leonid took the time to put such a complete, detailed, and unique
documentary out there at all. As is, if you watch closely, and read
the intro text, you get all you need. I’m not being critical here,
just observing a typical quirk people seem to have. Anyone remember
when the whole topic of asking a jeweler for help or trade secrets
resulted in closed doors? When nobody told anyone else how to do
something for fear of being displaced or no longer unique in their
skill? Now we demand videos, and if they don’t have a sound track
(which would limit their use in other languages. What would you have
said if it had a sound track, narranted in Leonids original tongue of
Russian?), somehow we feel deprived…

Funny, entitled, ducks; we humans are…

I will get this totally wrong, but it reminds me of a quote I think
was from Picasso.

A lady was wanting a picture drawing by Picasso and he obliged her,
as she was leaving he said “that will cost you 1 million dollars”, “1
million dollars but it only took you 30 seconds to draw”, “my dear
lady it took me 30 years to learn how to draw it in 30 sec”. People
forget the pain and suffering that sometime is required to make
things look good and easy.

Hi all

no sound for the videos for the studio arete videos.

So I just You tubed my own music tastes.

all the best


Thanks for your well thought-out comment on setting in Pt alloys vs
gold alloys and/or silver. I understand it’s a pretty complex
question. I also understand why higher end stones would be set in Pt.
However, I wonder if you, or someone who knows setting in silver
would comment on whether working or heat hardening bezels and/or
prongs would help in wear without making setting too difficult. Maybe
some of those who work in Argentium will comment. I’m particularly
thinking about prong setting in silver and how best to do it. Would
using punches or hammer handpieces be preferred over plain old
setting pliers or prong pushers, etc., etc.

However, I wonder if you, or someone who knows setting in silver
would comment on whether working or heat hardening bezels and/or
prongs would help in wear without making setting too difficult. 

Whether it would make setting too difficult depends on your skill,
and the style.

For many of us who are used to stone setting, it would be hard to
find or design a silver setting we’d have too much difficulty with,
since silver is basically a lot softer than the more common setting
metals. No piece of work hardened or heat treated silver will ever be
anywhere near as hard as any white gold, for example. But if you’re
only used to setting silver or high karat yellow gold, then it might
be different.

As to wear, or other issues, one thing to keep in mind with heat
treating is that while it can increase stiffness and hardness, to
resist bending or abrasion (abrasion to a lesser degree, given that
most of the things that abrade metal in wear are already a different
hardness from the silver), it may not always be the best idea for
settings. Heat treatments have a tendancy to increase stiffness and
hardness, but at the same time, can also make the metal more prone
to cracking of stressed. This is in contrast to work hardening, which
when also handled properly, increases hardness in part by giving a
finer grain structure, which increases strength. For my part, I’d
suggest moderate work hardening for settings, but not so much, heat
treatment for things like prongs, where any brittleness or tendancy
to crack when flexed, could be a problem. For bezels, it wouldn’t be
a risk, so harder would be fine. Again, I’m not sure it greatly
increases longevity. It would increase resistance to bending,
denting, and the like, even if it wears down just as fast (which I’m
not sure it will.) My own use of heat treating silver generally is
with things like hollow ware, or sheet metal work where resistance to
denting or being bent, etc, is important. For those parts of jewelry
that benefit from greater hardness, I much prefer work hardening by
forging, twisting, flexing back and forth, or the like.


As well as Picasso, there was allegedly a potter too who, when asked
how long a certain pot took to make, said it took him 30 years.

Apocryphal stories or not, it’s perfectly true that each piece you
make is the sum of all the pieces you have ever made in your journey
as an artist.


I’m glad someone has brought this up because I have been wondering
about using Argentium myself. Peter mentions that silver may be too
soft to set stones in. So I’m wondering, if they solved the problem
of silver tarnish by adding a touch of geranium… is it possible
to also add a touch of cobalt to make a silver alloy as hard as any
platinum or gold alloy? I know in Europe they banned the use of
nickel in jewelry alloys, but would cobalt or something else make
silver hard enough to set stone in to high standards?

If one could, then a lot more people would be able to purchase
finely crafted jewelry since gold and platinum prices are subjected
to speculation.

Hi all

I have found that heat hardening Argentium makes it as hard as 18 kt

I found this out by accidentally heat hardening a ring with a bezel

I had the oven set at the wrong temperature 250 C not 125 C. When I
went to set the stone it was as hard to push down as 18 kt yellow.

Since then certain stones are set in Argentium and then heat
hardened then given a final polish and then “raise the germanium” at
125 C for 1 hour.

For quality stones I use .8 mm metal for the bezel. Goes down easy in

all the best