What is stonesetting?
Stonesetting is the craft concerned with attaching gemstones to jewellery. The stonesetter deforms the metal of the jewel in such a way that it holds the stone.
Even if an ornament is made from precious metal, the gems often represent most of its value. That is why it is critically important that the stones are attached securely in place. The stonesetter must first and foremost avoid that the stones fall out and become lost.
But another concern is just as important: the stones must also not become damaged or broken by the setting process itself or by wearing the jewel. Uncareful setting will result in stones that touch one another. As they are amongst the hardest substances known, they are very likely to become chipped or even break completely when the metal is tightened. And if they do not become damaged by the setting process itself, touching stones will inevitably do so anyway when receiving a knock while being worn.
That is why the craftsman will choose the type of setting such that it offers enough protection but can still display its natural beauty as much as possible. The chosen technique depends on the type of stone: diamond is much tougher than emerald so the latter will typically be surrounded by more protecting metal. But the type of ornament also determines the choice. A ring that sits on a finger every day will be subjected to countless more scratches, knocks, temperature differences, chemicals, etc, than a brooch that is only worn on special occasions.