Book Review: Stonesetting for Contemporary Jewellery Makers by Melissa Hunt

Stonesetting for Contemporary Jewellery Makers is a large format, paperback book produced by Search Press, the aficionados of art and craft publishing. It is spread across 192 pages and split into three separate sections covering; Tools and Materials, Settings and Techniques and Resources.

The first thing that grabs your attention when you pick up this book is the amazing gallery of images which is interspersed throughout the text as well as spread across the cover, giving you a real sense of what to expect; from standard to unusual, to out and out Avant- garde, it’s all in here!

The first section, Tools and Materials covers Equipment in chapter 1 and Choosing Stones in Chapter 2 and both are covered simply, whilst providing a good amount of information. The stone section in particular makes an invaluable resource as it assesses a selection of popular stones in terms of their suitability for setting and includes information such as; colour, cut and hardness but also other important considerations such as potential problems and complimentary metals. E.g.

Moonstone – Considerations: ‘Great for learning cabochon setting, it’s glass-like quality is complimented by silver, but be wary of horizontal cracking’ – from Tools and Materials section, Chapter 2

I found the explanation on Cabochon Cuts particularly interesting as it describes the different options encompassed by that broad title which are sometimes overlooked and can be tricky to deal with if you lack experience.

‘Select a cabochon carefully: check that the underside is truly flat, otherwise it could rock in its setting’ – from Selecting a Stone, Chapter 2

The bulk of the remaining text is devoted to Settings and Techniques and covers a range of both ready-made and hand-fabricated settings. Each style featured has an informative introduction, a step by step tutorial with images, followed by a gallery of examples to whet your appetite. The skill levels required for each technique are varied, but are clearly marked either beginner, intermediate or advanced so you can easily identify the level before you start. Techniques covered include; prong and snap setting, setting stones into PMC, bezel setting, collet setting, gypsy setting, tension setting, channel setting, claw setting, pave setting, bead wrapping and also the use of irregular shapes and unusual materials which looks at hinges, rivets and end caps.

The format for each tutorial is accessible and easy to follow and has a full equipment list along with useful pro tips which will help to iron out any problems you may have along the way.

‘Prevent a stone getting stuck in its setting before it is finished by lying a long piece of cotton or a strip of paper inside first’ – from Settings and Techniques, Chapter 6.

The remainder of the book contains invaluable Resources such as an imperial and metric conversion chart, a ring sizing chart and a fabulous collet template which is going to save you hours of frustration and wasted metal!

Stonesetting for Contemporary Jewellery Makers is one of our bestselling books here at Cooksongold and rightly so; It is a well-rounded guide to stonesetting which will guide you on your way to many successful makes.

Written by Joanna Varney

Joanna has worked in and around the jewellery industry for well over 20 years. She has designed and created her own pieces as a designer maker, as well as working in jewellery retail on a much larger scale, producing designs and NPD for some of the UK’s largest high street retailers

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