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Do stonesetters use glue?

Many people think that stones are set with glue. This is generally not the case.

Typical gemstones are tough enough to survive being held by the metal itself, but there are exceptions. Amber is a soft substance that scratches easily when touched with a sharp object. Pearls are brittle and prone to chipping. Both will often be fixed by glue or be threaded onto a necklace or bracelet instead.

With appropriate care when setting and wearing the jewel however, and taking the risks into account, even soft precious materials can be set in the traditional way as well. The choice is up to the jewellery designer and the stonesetter.

The objects can be glued directly on a metal surface. With pearls the typical method is to drill a hole in one side of the pearl and attach it to a protruding metal wire. Since gluing requires no specialized skill or tools, it is mostly done by a bench jeweller in the general workshop instead of by a specialist stonesetter. That is why this site will not discuss the use of glue any further.

A few other materials that are sometimes glued instead of set:

Besides these soft materials, a lot of affordable costume jewellery is made by gluing crystals or other reflective materials (glass beads or cones are common) into the jewel. This kind of ‘setting’ has absolutely nothing in common with the type of work described on this site. Such machine-made items are not repairable and can only be discarded when damaged.