4 Tips on How to Use Gemstones For Beginners Sep 22, 2021Fashion Are you learning how to use gemstones? Including gemstone in jewelry can really add that special touch to your latest design but, when you are just getting started, choosing which gemstones to use can be a little scary. With so many options to choose from – including different shapes, cuts, sizes, weights, and finishes – knowing your diamonds from your cubic zirconias can be overwhelming. Here are 4 Tips on How to Use Gemstones For Beginners. Gemstone Guide for Beginners This short guide on gemstones for beginners helps you get starts in the wonderful world of gemstones. Gemstone Durability When looking for information about gemstones in jewelry, you will commonly see their “hardness” mentioned – such as 10 for diamond or eight for topaz – but this is only one of three factors that make up gemstone durability. Choosing the right strength of gemstones for beginners is a key factor in creating jewelry. A breakdown of the three elements of gemstone durability are: Hardness This is how hard the surface of the gemstone is and the reference point for hardness is the Mohs scale – which runs from one (talc) through to 10 (diamond). The harder the stone, the better its ability to resist scratching and abrasion. Toughness This is the internal strength of the stone – how well it can resist fracturing (non-directional breakage) and cleavage (directional breakage). Unlike hardness, there is no recognized scale for this, but it generally ranges from poor (tanzanite, emerald) to excellent (Jade). Stability This is the ability to resist both physical (heat and light) and chemical (exposure to acids) changes. As with toughness, there is no recognized scale for this, but it ranges from poor (opal, pearl) to excellent (diamond). Learning more about gemstone durability will make it much easier to work with gemstones for beginners. But what are the uses of gemstones? Find out more in our gemstone guide below. Top Tips in Using Gemstones for Beginners 1. Soldering and Pickling Stone setting is usually done once all of the metalwork is finished, this is because it prevents the stone from being accidentally damaged. But there are times when a piece needs soldering and pickling when the stone is in place, such as repairs. And this is where stability comes into play, as to expose to the heat of a jewelers’ torch and/or place in a pickling solution can seriously damage the stone – which is often irreversible. In most cases, the best option is to remove the stone before doing any soldering. Care is need when soldering stones are still in the setting as, without some form of heat protection, the surface of the stone can oxidize (even with very stable gemstones, such as diamonds). 2. Stone Setting For lots of jewelers, stone setting is one of the scariest things to do as they are weary about breaking the stone. Knowing a little about the stone you are setting can make the process a bit less stressful. This is because when you know what the hardness and toughness of the stone are, you can adapt your setting style. For example, with soft and more brittle stones (such as peridot or opal), you have to be more careful and not apply too much pressure on the stone – instead of a slow and steady approach with lots of small adjustments, ideally using brass rather than steel tools, is generally the best way to go. With harder and tougher stones, such as diamond or sapphire, you can apply more pressure on the stone – although care does still have to be taken. They can also be a little more forgiving if you slip, as the stones are generally harder than the metal the tool is made of. 3. Finishing and Polishing The final part of the jewelry-making process is finishing and polishing. It is possible to damage the stone at this point, so care is needs, especially when cleaning up the setting. This is because abrasives, such as sandpaper and rubber wheels, can damage softer stones – harder stones, such as diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, are usually ok. But on softer stones, these abrasives can take the surface off the stones and may leave a dull finish – and if you’re not careful, the complete removal of a facet from a stone (I learned that one the hard way!). Ideally, you want to use an abrasive that is softer than the stone. A similar issue can be found if you are using a very aggressive polishing compound, as it can affect the surface of the gemstone. Once the gem is set, you don’t really want to use anything more aggressive than pre-polish (Tripoli, Luxi Blue, etc.) and then your finishing polish. 4. Cleaning Once you finish polishing, it is time to get the piece clean and sparkly – but once again, care needs to take when doing this as ultrasonics and steam cleaners aren’t suitable for all types of gemstones in jewelry. For example, with brittle stones, such as emeralds and tanzanite, the ultrasonic waves can in some cases cause the stone to break. Another side effect of emeralds is that they are often fracture-fill with oils that can remove by the ultrasonic cleaner. It is a similar story for steam cleaners, and that is why both should only use with higher gemstone durability, such as that within diamonds and sapphires. The best option in most cases is the classic mixture of warm water, a small amount of washing-up liquid, a soft-bristled brush, and a bit of elbow grease. What are the uses of gemstones in jewelry? Gemstones use within a range of crafting and jewelry-making projects, from intricate necklaces and drop earrings to tennis bracelets and bespoke brooches. Find out how to choose the right stone for your design below. Gemstones for beginners: what’s the right stone for the job? Knowing how to work with different kinds of gemstones for beginners can also translate to choosing the right stone for a piece of jewelry you are doing for yourself, or as a commission for a customer. Are you using gemstones for a ring, earrings, or pendant? If you have to take more care of the stone when it is with you at the bench, there is a good chance that the gemstone isn’t really suitable for use in a ring. Emeralds, tanzanite, and opals are also great examples of this, as they have to be treated with a lot of care as their gemstone durability are quite low – and this generally means that being worn in a ring, especially one that is worn every day, isn’t going to do the stone much good. Instead, they are a better suit to use in a pendant or pair of earrings, as their life will be much easier, with less chance of the stone broken or damage. For everyday rings such as engagement rings, a stone that is durable is going to be a much better option and is one of the reasons why diamonds are such a great choice. If you have a customer who wants to use a soft stone in an everyday ring, talking through and explaining the reasons why it is not the best option can save a lot of time, hassle, and, in some cases, heartache (on both sides). Gemstone Guide: Choosing Your Setting Knowing how durable a gemstone is can have a big influence on the type of setting that you are going to use, as different styles of settings will offer different levels of protection. This is also useful if the customer is adamant about having a gemstone in a ring that is not particularly durable. For softer and more brittle gemstones in jewelry, a rub-over or bezel setting is often the best option. This is because, not only does the setting provide more protection for the stone but, the setting process can be more gentle. If the gemstone is more durable, then more exposed settings such as claw or prong settings can be a great option as they don’t require as much protection against day-to-day knocks and bangs. Now you know how to use gemstones, and how to choose which gemstones to use in jewelry, pick up all of your supplies, and look for more jewelry ideas from Royi Sal – where you can find everything mentioned within this gemstone jewelry guide, and much more. P.S. Royi Sal Jewelry, as a decades-long leader in silver jewelry design and manufacturing, invites you to download our latest magazine here and profit from the exceptional or best-seller jewelry designs at affordable prices for 2019 you will find in the magazine. Click here to download it now.