Calibré cut and invisibly set gemstones are techniques seen in antique jewellery in which gemstones were intricately fashioned by hand. To produce these exquisite techniques on an often minute scale, every facet and aspect of the stone required skilful and precise fashioning.
Calibré cut gemstones were worked into special shapes to fit into a specific area. Often calibré cuts fill a tapered row, encircle a stone, or create a flash of colour as a design element to a piece. Calibré cut stones can form a continual flow of colour due to the incredible channel settings in which they sit. Each gemstone would be fashioned so they sit right next to each other within a channel, with no metal in between visible from above. They would usually be held securely in place with a rubover or millegrain setting – a fine piece of secure metal bordering the stones. Calibré cut gems were usually faceted into small step-cuts or could also be polished to create tallow tops or miniature cabochons. Typical gemstones used were precious rubies, sapphires and emeralds, creating a burst of colour usually contrasted by bright diamonds.
One of the most revolutionary developments in jewellery workmanship occurred in the 1930’s, a new type of gemstone setting that only the very best and most highly skilled craftsmen could achieve – the invisible setting. Van Cleef & Arpels adopted this in 1933, a technique where no metal was visible from above, only from the reverse of the piece. The reverse setting consisted of channels that the gemstones slotted into, perfectly and accurately, to create a striking result. Similar to calibré cut gemstones, each gem would have to be exactly the right shape and size, sometimes tapered and sometimes set on extraordinary curved bezels. Gemstones in invisible settings create an area of colour without the interruption of metal, which can give the appearance of being one continuous gemstone. Invisible settings were often fashioned into domed shapes or bombé clusters, see reference 16016. This technique could only be successfully achieved by the best workshops, and were often signed by their master makers.
We have a selection of beautifully worked jewellery featuring these exquisite techniques, from unique engagement rings, to vintage eternity rings, and dazzling antique dress rings.