Save Money, Be Unique: 7 Reasons to Love Easy Saddle and Strap Stone Settings


Would you like to learn easy ways to use coins, river rocks, buttons, transparent cabs, and donut-shaped stones in your jewelry?

When creating earrings and pendants with stones set in them, do you ever have trouble deciding which side of the stone to show?

Do you want to learn a way to set large flat stones in artistic settings?

Can you believe the solution for all of those questions is the same?

Michael Boyd's saddle mount setting for stones  

Some stones have more than one "good" side, with unique patterns and colors on each side. Why not show off that beauty instead of covering it up with bezels and prongs? Traditional bezel settings are ideal for displaying many beautiful gems, but certain stones are better shown off in more subtle or artistic settings, like the strap and saddle settings in Michael Boyd's video, Special Stone Settings: Saddle and Strap. Stones that are translucent or transparent (but not faceted) and sliced thin to allow light to illuminate them, stones that have interesting colors or patterns in them, stones that are different on one side than on the other and have two "faces"–all of these types of gems are ideal candidates for saddle mounts and strap settings.

Here are seven reasons why I'm a fan of saddle and strap mountings.

1. One thing I especially like about these techniques is that you can modify them easily for use with any size, any shape, any thickness of stone–even freeform, organic-shaped pebbles and cabs. You can also use these techniques to set coins, buttons, and just about any flat thing.


2. These settings allow you to use large stones in your jewelry designs without having to use large amounts of expensive metal to set them. Less metal also allows the stone to really star in your design.

3. There isn't a lot of precision measurement and crucial fittings involved in these settings, making them accessible to all skill levels, especially the saddle setting. Fitting for either of these settings is much easier than fitting bezel wire around a cabochon for a traditional bezel setting.


4. Saddle settings in particular have a unique, artistic feel, because they have more metal surface area to embellish with texture or other design elements.

5. The saddle setting can be modified to allow for movement of the stone, if your design calls for it.

6. Because stones set in these kinds of settings don't have the protection that a bezel and/or back plate would provide, harder stones are better suited for these settings. Agates and jaspers are hard and can make great candidates for saddle and strap settings, and for saddle settings in particular, these stones can be cut in fairly thin slices. That can help maximize the amount of material you get out of a single slab, which is a bump for the budget. Plus agates and jaspers are generally really affordable and found in dozens and dozens of varieties.

  learn to ball wire against the stone

7. Translucent stones that might not look their best in traditional bezel settings can really shine in saddle and strap settings. These minimal settings cover very little of the stone and allow for optimum beauty and surface area to be seen. They also allow maximum light to pass through the material, showing off patterns within the stones. The right kinds of inclusions can even be your friend with these settings.

"The time I spent working as an apprentice with Michael was one of the pivotal experiences of my development as a jewelry artist. I learned so much about gemstones, jewelry settings and studio practices in those immersive 10 days that it opened all new directions for me in my work," says Helen Driggs, senior editor of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine. "Now, with this video, you too can spend time in his studio much like I did, and learn from a master jewelry artisan who recently became a member of the American Jewelry Design Council and is a two-time Saul Bell Design Award winner!"

Who could demonstrate artistic stone-setting techniques better? Get Michael Boyd's video Special Stone Settings: Saddle and Strap and see how easy it is to create settings that show off more of the stone's color and beauty, use less metal in the process, and even cut your own stones for these settings.

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