Settings in Jewelry - 4: Collet settings. Post 148.
We talked about a number of settings in previous posts. Collet settings were most common in earlier periods. There are a number of minor variations which I will try to show and explain. However, there seems to be some confusion about some of the terminology, which I’ll try to clear up along the way.
When the metal is pulled up at right angles to the plane of the jewel to create a little cell that holds the gem, this is known as a collet-setting. Initially, during earlier periods, the metal was pulled right up and covered part of the crown (top) of the gem. This is known as rubbed-over setting.
When the collet was made slightly lower than the crown, it was reinforced by little pleats on the outside of the metal, known as ribbing. Seen from above, the ribs look like granules and they are sometimes referred to as such. After the 1840’s, ribbing was not as prominent.
From the late 18th to the early 19th centuries, there was interest in seeing more of the gem and less of the metal. Technology was slowly advancing. The high walls of metal surrounding the gem began to come down. Lower and lower settings became possible and instead of folding the metal over the top of the gem as before, the metal only rose part way up the side of the gem (over the girdle, or widest part of the stone, which afforded a means of catching and securing the metal), leaving the entire top of the stone exposed. This was known as a cut-down collet setting . About 1820 cut down or scalloped collets with small claws to hold the gem from above were in use. Later, open claw settings superseded the collet setting.
The upper edge of the collet may be left plain, or it can be enhanced in various ways. Scalloping is when the edge undulates in a wave pattern. This might be even futher decorated with little scrolls or wirework/ of millegrain between the waves. The upper edge may also be pierced for decorative effect and to let additional light strike the gem.
During the 19th century, the millegrain form of collet setting was developed. Here the collet reaches the girdle of the stone. To hold the stone in place, small granules of metal, filigree or millegrain granules at the top of the collet are bent over the girdle. Closed setting or partially closed setting had the great advantage of hiding flaws in gems.
ROMAN SEAL SETTINGS: are collet settings most often found in cameos and intaglios and also seen in signet rings. They are a form of rubbed-over settings in which a groove is carved in the collet and the upper part pulled over the gem. To me, it looks like a double border with an indentation running through the center.
BEZEL SETTING. This is the same as a collet setting. It can also be confusing as the top or decorative part of a ring is known as the bezel.
Note: Bezel setting comes from the name of Bezalel, who was the first named jeweler in the world, having done jeweled crafts for the First Holy Temple in Jerusalem.