Professional Jeweler Archive: Assembly of Solitaire Mountings

May 2004

Professional Bench/Defining Quality

Assembly of Solitaire Mountings

Knowing how to assemble settings and shanks demonstrates another aspect of quality in your shop

Solitaire rings account for nearly half of bridal jewelry sales, not to mention the sale of solitaires in other categories. Countless styles and designs of preassembled settings and shanks are readily available. But when a customer wants something that suits his or her individual characteristics and preferences, jewelers often are faced with assembling solitaire components.

Solitaire Design & Style Considerations

The design and style of the components may vary significantly, but there are common considerations.

When selecting the setting (the terms “head” or “crown” may be applied to this component), consider:

  • Type of gem to be set and its color and size.
  • Customer’s preferred metal color and karatage.
  • Desired height of the gem from the finger.

For the shank, consider the:

  • Proportion, design and size of the setting.
  • Customer’s preferred metal color and karatage.
  • Finger size (finger length and ring size).
  • Potential use of side stones.

Variety of Solitaire Assemblies

This solitaire assembly is made of die-struck findings. When finished, it’s durable, practical for wear and easily serviced. Settings are available for many gemstone shapes, with shanks in various profiles to accommodate them. Jewelers often mix white and yellow alloys as well as gold and platinum, depending on the gems used and the customer’s desire and price range.
This assembly features a cast oval setting and a die-struck shank. Many customers like the open appearance of this setting, which allows more of the stone to show. This style is used typically with colored gems.
This is a bypass variation with the shank extended on each side of the setting. It’s a bit broader and especially suited for long fingers.
This shank style incorporates side stones and has an overall lower profile. The center stone is lower to the finger and the shank is wider.
This setting features heavy prongs with flat sides on which the shank is soldered. The narrow base with flat sides allows the shoulders of the shank to be positioned closer to the center and visually beneath the gem. The heavy construction offers additional security and durability.

Basic Solitaire Assembly

For a demonstration of a basic solitaire assembly, I’ve selected components from the Stuller Solstice collection. They are a 14k yellow gold shank and a 14k white gold interlocking setting. I remove the tooling and identification marks from the components and prefinish them. Next I adjust the tension of the shank so the interlocking feature will hold the setting in proper alignment.
Before soldering, I use double-pole head and shank tweezers (see page 117 for an explanation of double-pole tweezers) and tack the setting to the shank. Tack-welding ensures the components remain aligned during soldering.
I dip the assembly in firecoat solution and hold the assembly in cross-locking tweezers. No additional holding devices are required because the assembly was tacked before soldering.
I pickle, rinse and finish the Solstice solitaire. Now it’s ready for setting.

– By Mark B. Mann

Illustrations by Lainie Mann
Photographs by Mark B. Mann
Visual Communications, Inc. © 2004

Assembly of Solitaire Mountings

Professionally Assembled Shank and Setting

A. The solder joints are complete, with no pits, visible solder seams or discoloration.

B. The assembly of the head is symmetrical and even with the design of the shank.

C. There are no die-striking or other tool marks.

D. The base of the setting conforms to the radius of the shank and has sufficient contact.

E. The shank and setting are proportionate.

Potential Problems

The setting and shank are not aligned in the facing view (A), the profile (B) or the top view (C). The prongs are not positioned properly with the shank or in alignment from viewing angles.

The shoulders of the shank rise above the proper assembly position on the setting and extend into the prong area.
The first example (A) shows the base of the setting hasn’t been filed and shaped to the contour of the finger hole. The setting and shank in the second example (B) haven’t been assembled properly. Errors in workmanship resulted in the base of the setting sitting above the finger hole contour.
Die-striking lines and other tool marks are not removed. All surfaces of the prongs should be smooth, crisp and even.

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

– By Mark B. Mann

Illustrations by Lainie Mann
Visual Communications, Inc. © 2004

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications