Heya. Haven’t seen you in awhile. This is Steve Kretchmer. A
friend forwarded the various discussion about compression-spring
gemstone mountings (tension settings). Johann Exner (president of
Niessing) and I have discussed the origin of the tension setting
and I don’t really know if we agree. He insists that the designer
working for th em created the original tension setting and it was
the ring that looks like a giant jump-ring, the simple round wire.
This is truly the origin of the more contemporary look of the
tension setting, but I do believe that the concept is first seen in
Becker’s work, though his stones were removable. He has died
recently and I was hoping top meet him someday, not only because he
was so innovative, but also to discuss his feelings about this
origin of the tension setting issue.
I stress in all my interviews that Niessing’s work was first to
the market. I hold two patents on Methods for Making Compression
Spring Gemstone Mountings; Niessing strikes (work harden
/mechanical) their alloys to distort the crystal lattice increasing
hardness and elasticity; whereas I blend specific alloys and use
heat-treatments to increase its strength significantly. This allows
for various combinations of techniques (metallurgical means) to be
superimposed on the art object, and creates superior strength, like
steel vs. pounded iron.
Johann Exner and I respect eachother and have agreed to make
arrangements should we feel that our designs come too close
eachother. The tension setting is here to stay and has increased
in production and popularity in Europe. I have no protection there
for my patents that have been published, though I must be very
diligent in protecting my patents in the US.
Having been at the bench for 32 years, working the traditional and
futurisic, I do find that the tension setting is superior in
setting hard stones to other means, though has its design and
Examining alloys is one of my passions and after playing with
heat-treatables for awhile, I am working with Hoover & Strong, who
is distibuting two alloys for the market: Plat/SK-1 and
Plat/SK-2. They are heat-treatable, cast well, polish in almost
half the time, and wear much better than Pt-Ir’s, Pt-Co’s, or
Pt-Ru’s, but are general purpose blends, and inadequate for tension
settings. Heat-treating for tension setting is my intellectual
property anyway…at least for the next 11 years until the patents
Heat treatments have a myriad of uses. Not only for
strengthening, but creating special beautiful precious metal
compounds, including shifting of colors of specific alloys; not due
to oxidation, but because of creating new structures and phases.
Designs are always changing and expanding in our art.
I hope all is well with you and yours and hope to see you soon.