Setting caused fracture in aquamarine

Speaking as some folks were of breakage of stones during setting, I
just set an almost 6 carat stone in a yellow gold mount. Prior to
setting it was completely 10X loupe clean, but afterwards I noticed a
very tiny fracture near one of the prongs. What are the chances that
this fracture may expand and cause trouble later ? The fracture is
only noticeable under 10X magnification. It’s possible to see it
vaguely with the naked eye but only if you know exactly where to look
and only if the stone is in just the right light at just the right
angle. But it bums me out anyway. I am somewhat unfamiliar with the
potential hazards of setting aquamarine (but hey, I set a nice
emerald without breakage, so give a couple of points for that one).
Would appreciate any advice from setters or cutters.

Brian Corll
Vassar Jewelers
1002 East Simpson Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

Hi Brian,

If the ring were to just sit in a box I’d say the danger is pretty
slim, but the way people wear jewelry and wack it around as if it
was made of steel I’d say you have a pretty decent chance of seeing
the piece again.

Also, is ANYONE sure that the people buying their jewelry don’t have
magnifiers or loupe’s at home to look at their jewelry? Even if it’s
not to try to find fault, but to just inspect, clean, check
looseness, etc?

Just my opinion.


Hello, this is really hard to say without seeing the stone. Even then
it is sort of a guess. Is the prong putting crooked or excessive
pressure on the stone? Is the inner edge of the prongs rubbing up
against the girdle in an stressing way? You really want the prong to
hold the contour of the stone without putting any real pressure on
any edges or points. Prongs should really just frame a stone. This
is hard to do, really well. with diamonds you can sort of get away
with excessive pressure but on colored stones you are more apt to put
uneven pressure. If it were me depending on the answers to the above
questions, I would perhaps back the prong off a bit from the girdle
edge. It is always a scary venture once you have caused something to
go amiss, it is hard to know when to stop fiddling. Is this an
emerald cut? Aqua’s often are, and they are harder to set, at least
for me.

good luck,


Regarding setting of aquamarine. Aqua, tourmaline and Moissonite are
stones that tend to splinter rather than chip especially squares on
the corners or marquise at the ends. If you have to set an aqua with
sharp edges sometimes it is a good idea to have a stone cutter
soften the corners a little. This will reduce the risk of chipping
considerably. Often aqua have very wide girdles with sharp edges and
corners, these can splinter very easily. As far as comparisons with
emeralds go in my experience a relatively flawless emerald is less
likely to chip than an aqua of similar cut. Also if you do have an
any stone with a very small fracture you can guarantee if its ever
valued they will pick it up.

Phil W

Phil W.

Before doing anything along this route, please advise your client of
your intentions. The other thing is to inform him/her of your
feelings on breakage, that some stones do have an inherent risk
factor built in. In this particular setting process, please be very
mindful of allocating a wider bearing cut. For that point of the
stone, make sure that the claw does not have too much pressure to be
put onto the corner of the softer, genuine stone. In other words,
take greater care in the setting.


Thanks, Phil. Well, it’s not a $ 50,000 stone so I don’t think
appraisals would be a big problem. I have it up for sale but I
downgraded the clarity and noted the inclusion after I reset the
stone and the fracture appeared. I’ve shown it to several people and
they can’t see the fracture with the naked eye even when I point to
where it is so it’s not a big deal. My wife keeps telling me “Women
just buy what they like. A little flaw doesn’t matter.”

Brian Corll
Vassar Jewelers


Serendipity. Last night I just finished carving a 30ct Morganite. The
stone had been preformed and had gone through a workshop fire,which
had caused it to be heated to at least 450 C ( my estimate) The
result was a non facetable stone that had the typical ‘rainbow’
feathers one sees in heat treated Aquamarine rough. Anyway, I was
carving, using diamond burrs and “chasing” the fractures. Bad move.
They don’t stop. They just continue as if once the crystal has been
split, it runs like a windscreen crack. The only way I got them to
stop is to go to a finer grit and then into polish. This might be
something that happened to your Aqua. Or is happening.As you pressed
on the stone that crack said “Hi, I am visible now, just follow me”
Most certainly, in my opinion, it is a weak, but not really terminal
point of that stone. I am not saying your Aqua is treated, but my
morganite certainly was. Also, before the fire, the Morganite was
that typically dusty pink/brown they are sometimes. After carving
it, it is a lovely pure pale pink. So good came after trouble (grin)

Hans Meevis


I have it up for sale but I downgraded the clarity and noted the
inclusion after I reset the stone and the fracture appeared. 

I hope you did a very thorough inspection of the stone, in the same
light, under the same conditions, and the same angles as you did
after it was set. I have missed something in the stone that was there
before I set it. I have discovered an inclusion that was under a
prong, or a natural on the side of the stone that was hidden by the
way it was set when I took it out of the customers setting, and I
just made sure I reset it the same way in the new mounting. And I saw
a diamond in a platinum setting go from a H-I color to an L-M color
when it was removed.

Richard Hart


Thanks for the response. The aqua was almost certainly heated, but I
don’t know of any other treatment that would have been applied. The
best I’ve found suggests that it was probably an
inclusion only visible under microscopic examination, which decided
turn into a fracture due to pressure from setting. I’ve got to learn
to have a softer touch. I tend to be a bit heavy-handed, but a guy my
size isn’t exactly a ballet dancer. :wink:

Getting too cold in the Appalachian Mountains. Can I come visit you
in St. Maarten ? I could sweep up around the shop or something…

Brian Corll
Vassar Jewelers

Yes, Richard, I inspected the stone very thoroughly and there are no
other fractures or inclusions, even under 20X. I am sure it would
meet your standards. :wink:

Brian Corll
Vassar Jewelers

Getting too cold in the Appalachian Mountains. Can I come visit you
in St. Maarten ? I could sweep up around the shop or something.... 

Brian, you and any one from Orchid would be more than welcome to
visit me in St Maarten and I promise no one would have to sweep the
shop. Settle some beers or look at some disgustingly beautiful
sunsets maybe, but I promise, no workshop floors!

Cheers, Hans Meevis