We started as rock hounds, and went from "rock nuts" to "gem crazy". Now we have made over 17,000 gemstones, and sold over 7000 of them. Talk about a hobby "gone amok!".
Our design approach is mostly to present the material in a natural state, little additional materials, with the outline favoring the pattern in the gemstone.
We use metal bails, gold, silver, brass, copper, bronze, and nickel*. The choice of the color of the bail is to match the coloration of the gemstone. The bails come in different styles:
Front or face drilled
Front or face drilled, and side drilled pendants can have the bails swapped to other materials, by request.
The use of drilled attachment for bails has several advantages compared to bezels or wire-wrapped in that there is less labor and materials, and thus the cost is reduced.
Some lapidaries do not want to drill, as it can be a time and material consuming task. I used an ultrasonic drill, which goes about 5x faster than a twist drill, and consumes far fewer bits.
I do another bail attachment which I call "circumfrential". I grind the edge perpendicular to the back of the stone, then mill a groove. The wire is then twisted, and set in the grove. This is relatively simple compared to a bezel, and also saves on the cost.
* Nickel is a great substitute for silver because it does not tarnish. As they say "silver tarnishes in the finest of families", so using nickel saves lots of time polishing. Nickel is tolerated by most people, a very small percentage, perhaps 1%, can not have it touching or penetrating the skin. In most of our jewelry, the bail will not be touching the skin.