Special Stone Settings: Show off Your Stones with Saddle and Strap Settings by Michael Boyd

Whether you buy your stones or cut your own cabochons like Michael Boyd does, chances are you're pretty much in love with their beauty. The textures, the patterning and veining, the colors! There's a lot of beauty in some of those "rocks" and I'm willing to wager you'd rather show them off than cover them up in your jewelry designs, yes?

Michael Boyd's strap setting for stones

Traditional bezel settings are fine for displaying beautiful stones, but certain stones are simply better shown off in nontraditional, more artistic settings, like the saddle and the strap settings. Stones that are translucent or transparent (but not faceted), stones that have interesting veins or patterns in them, stones that are sliced thin in order to allow light to pass through–all great candidates for saddle and strap settings.

I'd seen these settings before watching Michael Boyd's new video, Special Stone Settings: Saddle and Strap, but it never occurred to me that they were actually stone settings at all–they just seemed like decorative elements of a successful jewelry design. After further consideration, I instantly became a fan of these artisan stone settings for these eight reasons.

Michael Boyd's saddle mount setting for stones  

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.

2. Nearly all parts of the stone show, including the back, making these settings ideal for earrings or even versatile enough for reversible pendants, if you find a stone that has two pretty "faces." You can use the strap setting on spherical stones and even set a large gemstone bead in a version of this setting.

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

  learn to ball wire against the stone

4. Saddle and strap stone settings have a very unique, artistic feel, especially in the saddle setting, which has more surface area you can decorate with texture and other design elements.

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

6. These settings allow for 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.

strap stone settings by Michael Boyd  

7. 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.

8. 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.

  cutting strap setting stones

Give your stone settings a fresh makeover with these two artisan setting styles that allow you to show off more of the stone's beauty and even turn some stone features that aren't traditionally considered beautiful into positives. Get Michael Boyd's newest video workshop, Special Stone Settings: Saddle and Strap, and learn to create unique stone settings that show off more of the stone's color and beauty, use less metal in general, and cut your own stones ideal for these settings.


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