I have been given quite a few faceted gemstones. I would like to purchase some settings; I have no idea where to begin. Could you suggest a good book or magazine to help a beginner?
The first thing you need to do is determine what size your gemstones are--the size of the stones will guide you to know what size settings you will need. You should use a caliper for measuring, as most settings will be sold in millimeters (mm) and this tool is the best and most accurate when measuring stones.
You will also need to determine what shape and style the stones are cut in. Cabochons are flat backed with a domed front. Faceted gemstones come in many shapes including: round, pear, marquise, heart, etc.
If the stones are machine-cut, you will most likely find that a setting already exists for the size of the stone. Fire Mountain Gems and Beads carries many standard-size settings.
If the stones were hand-cut, and done in a freeform way, you may need to contact a designer to custom-make your settings or select a book from your local bookstore that covers designing a bezel as well as soldering in general.