2003 - The Gemstone/Precious Metal Interface

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2003 - The Gemstone/Precious Metal Interface

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The science of jewelry settings and appropriate design parameters are rarely discussed or defined. If we appreciate the mechanical, chemical and physical properties, we can employ versatile computer-aided design tools to explore settings designs, consider limits in casting and die striking processes and control gungeability. The mechanical properties of settings are contrasted with the "brittle fracture" properties of most gemstones to give an insight into optimizing design, choice of materials, manufacturing processes and repairs. By simple engineering design theory and CAD software such as Softworks, we can rate the setting performance of alloys in terms of strength modulus, elastic limit, work-hardening and spring-back. It is more difficult to be quantitative about gemstones, but relative hardness helps to predict performance a little. The interface also includes (literally) other things such as the ability of gemstones to attract dirt. This lowers the total internal reflection of the stone that gives it fire and/or simply accelerates wear and tear. In turn, this calls attention to the cleaning ability of a complete piece of jewelry and, in particular, how ultrasonic cleaning affects the setting locally.

Author: Dr. John C. Wright

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