Stressing Stones

It?s a universal truth in jewelry manufacturing: If you set gemstones, eventually one will break. A number of factors contribute to stone breakage, including species, setting styles, shapes, natural defects, and the skill of the setter. But all stone breakage can be attributed to two general causes: thermal stress and physical trauma. Thermal stress occurs whenever the temperature within a stone changes quickly. Most stone species cannot withstand a rapid change between expansion and contraction, and they break from the resulting stress. Such fractures usually occur when the stone is heated, either deliberately or accidentally, and then quenched in water or a pickle pot. The best way to avoid thermal shock is to avoid heating the gemstone. When re-tipping a ring, for example, never put heat directly on the stone. (Even diamonds, which are regarded as thermally stable, can break if th

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