How to set gemstones into prong semi-mounts

Written by simone o'shea
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How to set gemstones into prong semi-mounts
Use your own designs to make gemstone rings, earrings and necklaces. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

A sparkling gemstone nestled in a delicate metal setting looks simply stunning and expensive, but is just as lovely when constructed at home for a fraction of the retail price. With the right tools, some loose gemstones and metal semi-mounts, an advanced beginner jewellery-making enthusiast can quickly add setting gemstones into prong semi-mounts to their expanding list of jewellery-making techniques. Prong semi-mounts are metal jewellery settings sold without gemstones that come with four prongs that secure a gemstone placed inside them when bent; faceted gemstones are sold individually or in bulk.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Gemstone
  • Baby soap
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Prong semi-mount, size matched to gemstone
  • Ring vice
  • Level
  • Electric hand-held rotary tool with buffing wheel attachment
  • Tweezers
  • Flat-nose jewellery pliers
  • Fine-tooth metal jewellery file

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  1. 1

    Clean the gemstone free of dirt and oil with a warm water and baby soap. Wipe dry with the lint-free cloth.

  2. 2

    Secure the semi-mount setting into the ring vice, prong side up. Check the level of the setting; adjust as needed. Polish the inside of the prong and setting mount thoroughly using the buffing wheel on the hand-held rotary tool. Wipe clean with the lint-free cloth.

  3. 3

    Grasp the gemstone with the tweezers. Place the gemstone into the seat of semi-mount setting, top side up.

  4. 4

    Secure the prongs lightly. Open the jaws of the flat-nose jewellery pliers. Orient the jaws of the pliers against two opposing prongs of the semi-mount setting. Shift one side of the pliers up, so that side presses on top of the prong, with the other jaw at the side of the opposite prong. Gently press the first prong halfway down against the gemstone. Exercise extreme caution when pressing down the prong to avoid damaging the gemstone. Press the opposing prong halfway down using the same method. Repeat with the other pair of prongs so that all four are pressed halfway down.

  5. 5

    Secure the prongs fully. Once all four prongs are halfway secured it is safe to press each down fully without damaging the gemstone. Follow the instructions in Step Four but press each prong down all the way.

  6. 6

    Check the gemstone for a secure setting. Release the set stone and semi-mount from the ring vice. Turn in all directions to make sure the gemstone does not fall out, one hand ready to catch it if it drops. Return it to ring vice when finished.

  7. 7

    Clean and polish the outside of the metal prongs. File down any scratches on the outer prongs with the fine tooth file. Polish with the buffing wheel.

Tips and warnings

  • Ordinary jewellery pliers and specialised gem-setting pliers are both effective tools to set gemstones into prong semi-mounts.
  • Some gemstones, such as opals, are prone to crumbling because of their crystalline nature. Check the durability of each gemstone before setting.

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