Professional Jeweler Archive: Exposed Culets

July 2003

Professional Bench/Defining Quality

Exposed Culets

Identifying the need for reconstructing jewelry with an exposed culet demonstrates another aspect of quality in your shop.

A gemstone’s culet is where the pavilion facets terminate at the bottom. The facets either come to a point (a closed culet) or there’s a very small facet parallel to the table facet. All culets are vulnerable to breakage or splintering, so they should not be exposed and unprotected when mounted in jewelry.

Citrine Ring – Problem Identification

The center stone in this ring is citrine. It is 7 on the Mohs hardness scale and is moderately vulnerable to damage from normal wear or improper storage when not worn.
To see an exposed culet, view the jewelry from the side. Notice this citrine’s culet (or “keel” in the case of this emerald cut) is exposed and extends below the lower gallery wire of the ring into the finger hole.
Through normal wear and handling the citrine has been damaged. If the gem were set higher in the mounting, the surrounding metal would have protected the culet, and damage would not have occurred with normal wearing and handling.

Citrine Ring – Resolution

To professionally reconstruct this ring for your customer, unmount the citrine and have it repolished to remove the damage. The ring needs longer and heavier prongs, and the center stone requires resetting. This is a challenging reconstruction with the presence of cultured pearls incorporated into the ring design.

Diamond Ring – Problem Identification

The customer complained this diamond ring became irritating and uncomfortable to wear and asked that it be sized up. Careful inspection revealed the culet was exposed in this flush-set ring.
A careless bench jeweler performing a sizing or other repair could have placed this ring on the mandrel for rounding. The force of blows from the hammering process for rounding would have caused the culet to splinter.

Diamond Ring – Resolution

To professionally reconstruct this ring for your customer, carefully unmount the diamond. Make and install a bezel and reset the diamond.

– by Mark Mann

Photographs by Mark B. Mann
Illustrations by Lainie Mann
©2003 Visual Communications

Setting Gemstones Without Exposing the Culet

No part of the culet should be exposed or below the lowest gallery wires on jewelry that is vulnerable to breakage or splintering or where it will cause discomfort to the wearer.

Potential Problems to Watch for

The culet of this partial-bezel-set emerald-cut gemstone extends into the finger hole. It’s extremely uncomfortable to wear and is vulnerable to excessive wear. It will break if forced onto a ring mandrel. The stone must be unmounted and the ring modified with a taller bezel. Then the stone can be reset.
The culet of this prong-set pear-shaped gemstone extends below the lower gallery wire of this pendant. Aside from being uncomfortable to wear, the pendant will not sit flat when worn. The exposed culet also is vulnerable to excess wear if stored carelessly. To rectify this problem, a thicker lower gallery wire could be added to the pendant.
The flush-set diamonds in this ring have exposed culets. An unobservant bench jeweler will splinter the diamonds when trying to round the ring before sizing. Also the exposed culets will cause extreme discomfort to the wearer. One solution is to remove the diamonds and add bezels or heads into which they would be reset. If the customer likes the appearance of flush setting, the ring will have to be remade with thicker metal or a deeper mounting.

– by Mark B. Mann

Illustrations by Lainie Mann
©2003 Visual Communications

This series is sponsored in part by Jewelers of America (800) 223-0673

Copyright © 2003 by Bond Communications