Why It’s Important to Know Your Invisible Setting
Written by Annabelle
June 10, 2019
You might be browsing through a store, or you just got a lovely piece as a gift. The gems set in the item are strange- they're princess cut, and look almost as if they seamlessly fit together. Your jeweler tells you it's an invisible setting. But what is that? Read more to learn about invisible settings and how to repair them.
What Is an Invisible Setting?
The invisible setting is a type of stone setting style that was popularized by French design house Van Cleef & Arpels. Often known as the mystery setting, this type of setting creates a beautiful, smooth “carpet” of jewels. The optical illusion is the result of many specially-cut stones that have very fine grooves carved into the bottom. These stones are then slid onto tiny metal rails created specifically for the setting. From the top, there should be no visible signs of prongs or any other method of securing the stones.
How Can I Repair Invisible Set Jewelry?
Repairing invisible settings can be quite difficult. Only a handful of jewelers have the appropriate skill and expertise to fix the near-microscope rails if they are broken, and ensure that they fit the grooves in the stones. The jeweler will have to examine the piece extensively, measure the approximate width of the rails, and recut them into a paper-thin channel that is custom to the size of the stone. Once that's complete, the jeweler has to carefully slide the stones into place, making sure that there's enough space to fit all of them (especially in a domed design, which presses the stones tighter together.) After the stones have been placing onto the rails, the jeweler inspects the stones to make sure that none are sticking out or overlapping. The gems are tapped with a slight amount of pressure, which forces the rails to flare and lock the stones in place.
If the original grooved stone is missing, this complicates the repair even further. The jeweler needs to find a lapidary who can cut a gem of the same approximate size and quality to replace the missing one. Stones need to have a certain thickness and width to withstand the grooving process, which means that the replacement will probably be of a heftier carat weight than other un-grooved stones of the same shape and size.
How to Maintain Your Invisible Set Jewelry
Because of its design, invisible-set jewelry isn't the best type of jewelry to wear if you have a fairly active lifestyle. It should be worn sparingly, and exercise caution to prevent it from hitting hard surfaces. Prolonged rough contact can destroy the rails and knock out the stones, leaving you with both a damaged setting and missing gems. Once or twice a year, the piece should be checked by a jeweler to see if any of the stones are loose.
We hope this information was useful to you for taking care of your invisible setting jewelry! If you need an item repaired, contact us here.