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3 Stone ring gallery fabrication question


#1

Greetings All,

I’ve decided to tackle a 3 stone ring for a customer (center emerald
cut with two side trillions) and am fabricating the thing from
scratch. Generally, this kind of work isn’t in my wheel-house as I
specialize in granulation which is heavily reliant on bezel
settings. So, my question is:

  1. How do you determine the distance below the upper baskets to
    place the gallery base (is this based on some ratio or do you simply
    place it as close to the upper basket that the culet will allow?)

and

  1. Is there also some sort of standard “size reduction” that the
    lower plate is supposed to be of the baskets? (I.e. Is the base
    plate supposed to be X% in size of the upper portion or is it all
    subjective?)

Thank you very much!

Sincerely,
Erich C. Shoemaker
ErichCDesigns.com


#2

Erich,

I don’t know of any formula that will give you this. As you say it
is “subjective” in the judgement of the angle of the head as well. I
have done this many ways depending on various factors…angle,
trellis, straight, style, etc. What I would normally do is make sure
your culet would be a minimum of 1mm off of the finger or finger
rail. I have seen these done with various heights in the galleries
from taller on the bottom gallery to lower on the upper to
vice-versa…or even the same height. If you have some sheet metal it
might be easier for you to cut out the upper gallery shapes and sizes
for the stones. I make the lower gallery 2/3’s the size of the upper
to create angles. Solder together using a single wire bent completely
around the two galleries instead of doing each prong separately. It
also depends on whether you are using common prongs in center for
the center and side stones. Do the shank last but make sure at least
you lower gallery matches the radius of the ring size.

Best of luck,

Russ Hyder
The Jewelry CAD Institute


#3
1. How do you determine the distance below the upper baskets to
place the gallery base (is this based on some ratio or do you
simply place it as close to the upper basket that the culet will
allow?) 
2. Is there also some sort of standard "size reduction" that the
lower plate is supposed to be of the baskets? (I.e. Is the base
plate supposed to be X% in size of the upper portion or is it all
subjective?) 

Well Erich, it was our dear departed Neilthejeweler who said, “Have
them make a 3 stone ring, the most deceptively difficult job to do
well.” It’s all about proportion, you see. Some may write here that
there are rules, but in truth there are not, but I’ll say some
things.

#1. Not too close, not too high. the culet doesn’t matter so much
unless it’s especially deep. The culet CAN NOT touch the finger.
First, it depends on how wide your gallery wires are, and how big in
diameter the stones are. If the top wire, just under the stone, is
fairly wide then maybe a window (as it’s called) of about the same
is about right. You can either set all three stone galleries at the
same level, or raise the center a bit - just two different styles.
The two biggest design mistakes, besides question #2, are making it
way too low or way too high. Something leasing and proportional is
good and I’m sorry I don’t have a number but every ring is
different, or it should be.

#2 How much smaller the lower gallery is determines directly the
angle of the prongs. In a nutshell, I usually go around 80% which is
like a 15 degree angle on the prongs. I don’t measure these things,
just guessing. Perpindicular prongs (90 deg) have their place, but
much less. Looking from the top you should see nothing but stone,
tips and finger. A stronger angle makes setting difficult and
eventually near impossible. 80-85%, maybe. There’s a martini glass
finding out lately that has around 45 degree prongs - they are a
bear to set, but there’s a look to them that’s interesting. It’s all
about style, you see.

If there were rules, it wouldn’t be art. But the above is how I go
about it, generally. Pleasing proportions. Make the setting plate,
make the base, solder the plate in place and then just lay your
prongs down, bang, bang, bang…


#4
1. How do you determine the distance below the upper baskets to
place the gallery base (is this based on some ratio or do you
simply place it as close to the upper basket that the culet will
allow?) 

To answer this question we have to know if this ring will be worn
every day, on on special occasions only. Ordinarily, the higher the
ring, the more light is available for stones. But to wear high ring
everyday is not easy, so let the client decide, - what does she want
to sacrifice beauty or convenience. My personal preference would be
to make it as high as possible. The way ring looks from the side is
as important as from the top.

2. Is there also some sort of standard "size reduction" that the
lower plate is supposed to be of the baskets? (I.e. Is the base
plate supposed to be X% in size of the upper portion or is it all
subjective?) 

Yes, there is. The dimensions of lower bezel should be determined
geometrically. Draw ring in profile and indicate stones position.
Connect outer margins of upper bezel to the center of ring shank.
Intersections of these lines with outer margin of the shank is the
dimension you are looking for. Notice that the height of the setting
will determine the size of lower bezel.

A good way to approach this problem is to use Golden Section. Suppose
the size of upper bezel is 20mm. That makes size of lower bezel 20 x
0.66 = 13.2mm Mark 13.2 on outer margin of the shank and draw lines
from the center of the shank through the points indicating the length
of lower bezel. Extend these lines well about shank margins. Place
upper bezel dimensions on the drawing so it would touch both lines
and be parallel to lower bezel. The distance between upper and lower
bezel is the height of the gallery.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#5

Erich,

You’ll probably get a lot of opinions on this one but here’s mine.
In general you want a prong angle of 17 degrees relative to a line
perpendicular to the plane of the galleries - or 73 degrees from
parallel to the same plane. This is, of course, negotiable depending
on the pavilion profile on your EC but for a properly cut EC diamond
that angle allows for an adequate seat to be formed without creating
a prong above it cut too thin or too thick The more the prong angle
tends to 90 degrees to the gallery plane the less seat you’ll be able
to create without cutting too deeply into the prong post. Too far off
of 90 degrees and you begin to create way too large of a seat without
sufficient reduction in the prong at the bend point.

Again in general, when you construct the two gallery rectangles, the
lower gallery should fit closely within the upper gallery as far as
their relationship in size to each other goes. Through a little trial
and error you can determine how much distance between the two is
needed in order to achieve the prong angle you determine is
appropriate while keeping in mind the pavilion depth.

This gives a basket which is virtually invisible when looking
directly down on the stone. If you intend to use the upper gallery
itself as the seat then the 17/73 degree angle is not as crucial. You
can even set the prongs at a full 90 degrees to the gallery plane if
you put the gallery on the inside of the prongs.

Try it all in silver first - maybe a couple of times.

Good luck,

Les brown
www.goldwork.com


#6
You'll probably get a lot of opinions on this one but here's mine.
In general you want a prong angle of 17 degrees relative to a line
perpendicular to the plane of the galleries - or 73 degrees from
parallel to the same plane. 

I think it will be instructive to understand why 17 degrees. The
stock size for the rings always been size 6, which is 16.2 mm in
diameter. Adding thickness 0.9mm per side gives us 18mm diameter on
the outside with perimeter length of 57mm. One carat diamond been the
norm, it means the outside diameter of setting should be 8.5mm (
6.5mm + 2 thicknesses of 1mm ). That makes diameter of lower bezel
5.6mm. ( 8.5 * 0.66 ) In geometrical terms 5.5mm is length of chord
defining an arc with arc angle equal to (360*5.6)/57 = 35.3 degrees (
result is approximate, but good enough for our purpose ). It can be
shown that angle of sides of the setting is equal to one half of arc
central angle, or approximately 17 degrees.

With 3 stones things are different. Given the same 1 carat stones,
the arc angle triples to 104 degrees, which gives angle of sides (
or prongs ) on outside of cluster, equal to 52 degrees. Of course,
different stones would give different angles. Increasing height of
gallery would decrease prong angle.

The more the prong angle tends to 90 degrees to the gallery plane
the less seat you'll be able to create without cutting too deeply
into the prong post. Too far off of 90 degrees and you begin to
create way too large of a seat without sufficient reduction in the
prong at the bend point. 

Here it is important to make a distinction whether we are talking
about local or global system coordinates. The change of outside angle
for stone cluster is happening in global system of coordinates (
measured from center line passing though the center of center stone
and the center of circle, defining ring shank ). In local system the
angle remains as expected 17 degree.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#7

Hi

I have never known a standard height for these settings. It depends
on size of the stones 5mm might suit a.25ct stone but be too shallow
for a 1ct stone. It also depends on the design of the setting, is it
a traditional 3stone or a modern design. Also don’t let the culet of
the stone touch the skin, it’s not a flat facet on the bottom
nowadays, unlike Victorian cuts which had a little facet, modern cuts
have a sharp point which will abrade the skin. I had a customer with
terrible trouble and infection due to the diamond scratching the
skin. so I PUK welded, onto the setting, a little dome over he end
and that cured it. Brilliant cut diamonds have total internal
reflection, that is all light entering through the table is bounced
around inside the stone and back out whense it came so the dome over
the end was not noticable. I hasten to add it was not a ring I had
made. Hope this helps. Just a thought I keep my stone a minimum of
2mm off the skin.

Hamish


#8

Thank you very much everyone for the reply. They are EXTREMELY
helpful! I’m very frustrated at the lack of out there
regarding 3 stone rings. For as common and popular as they are, there
is virtually no on creating them. Sure, there are a ton
of other “beginner” projects, but I wasn’t able to find anything
regarding a three stone ring. Well, I went ahead and made the ring
anyway and can honestly say that the notion that it is “deceptively
difficult” was an understatement if ever there was one. I had a
multitude of problems due to my lack of prong experience. For the
past 10 years, I’ve done nothing but granulated jewelry using bezels.
Consequently, I’ve only ever made a basket setting twice (back in
school) and that was 11 years ago! To compound issues, my bezel-
setting mindset screwed up my baskets as I mistakenly made them…
well, like a bezel (oversized)… which of course screwed up my
prongs…which I didn’t discover until attempting to set the stones.
I figured that I would’ve caught the mistake sooner, but despite
constant checking for fit of the stones, I’m evidently an idiot. Had
I set more than 4 stones in prongs over the past 10 years, I may have
noticed it sooner, but alas, all I could see/think was, “well, the
fit looks good as usual”…forgetting that “usual” means that the
setting is larger than the stone.

So, having gone through the project once and, with fear,
contemplating going through it again, I’ve got a few follow up
questions for you all (if you’ll humor me)

  1. For future reference, approximately how long should it take a
    competent jeweler to fabricate a 3 stone ring (assuming all
    materials and stock are set to go and you don’t need to pour an ingot
    and roll/ pull stock)? I’m only curious as the amount of time I
    poured into this thing seemed ridiculous. I would just like to know
    what is considered a realistic time frame as something to shoot for.

  2. How thick of sheet do you typically use to create the lower
    gallery plate?

Thank you all once again for your help. I especially appreciate the
comments regarding angle of prongs and the use of the golden
section. I realize that it can all be subjective to both the
stipulations of the wearer (casual use where slim/low profiles are
preferred vs. evening cocktail ring where it is all about the optimal
display of the stone, etc.) and the aesthetics of the jeweler, but at
least having some mathematical reference point gives me something to
start with in the absence of first-hand one-on-one help. I’m tempted
to take a few pics and post them for critical analysis and advice
(I’ve always appreciated critiques as they’ve helped me improve far
greater than any compliment), but honestly, if I did, I think the
laughter would drown out the comments…that and I’m not sure if
anyone would have the time to write all that’s wrong with it. Kind of
like critiquing a child’s crayon drawing using the Mona Lisa as a
reference.

Thanks again everyone!

Erich C. Shoemaker
www.ErichCDesigns.com


#9

I forgot to add this question to my last email, but how do you
prefer to make the settings? Do you prefer to use a thick sheet and
pierce them out or do you use wire and bend it to make the setting.
I’ve seen it done both ways and have tried both myself and I’m just
not happy with either, but I’ve got to pick one to work on more. Any
thoughts you have on this would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you all very much!

Erich C. Shoemaker
www.ErichCDesigns.com


#10
Do you prefer to use a thick sheet and pierce them out or do you
use wire and bend it to make the setting. I've seen it done both
ways and have tried both myself and I'm just not happy with either,
but I've got to pick one to work on more.

There are multiple answers possible. Start with deciding on setting
technique. That will tell you how to make upper cluster. Lower bezel
is made to complement upper cluster, and gallery should tie
everything together. These are design questions and technique simply
an extension of the answers to the questions. I suspect your problems
are not with technique but with design. And by design I do not mean
grandiose ideas, but simply making sure that all parts relate to each
other in some meaningful way. You should not worry about time. Take
whatever time you need. Quality is way more important.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#11
how do you prefer to make the settings? Do you prefer to use a
thick sheet and pierce them out or do you use wire and bend it to
make the setting. 

I can’t play this on my computer to confirm it, but from what I
remember Leonid makes a setting from a disc he domes, then shapes
into a cone using a block, then pierces:

There are one or two other Orchid members who show how to fabricate
a setting on their websites, but I can’t think of them right off.
Sorry. It is late and I drove 750 miles today and I’ve had a few
’muscle relaxers’ to relieve aches.

Neil A.


#12

Eric- The time it takes to make a three stone depends on the shape
of the stones. I can do rounds in a New York Minute. Ok maybe 4
hours. I’m guessing here because we roll and pull all of our own wire
and sheet. Squares, emeralds, and pears take me longer. If I put any
design details between the upper and under gallery that adds time
too.

I always saw out the under bezels from plate.

Now pay attention here…

The thinnest part of your ring should NEVER be under the stones.
Always make the under structure of the stones heavier than the
thinnest part of the bottom of the shank. When the ring is worn if it
takes a knock, you want the ring to bend or shift at the shank. Not
under the stones. If it shifts under the stones they will break,
loosen or just pop out.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#13

1mm on the lower plate or 18ga. How long depends on experience with
it…I suspect a good bench jeweler can knock this out within two
hours if materials are there…that is just the 3 stone gallery not
the shank.

Russ
TJCI, Inc.


#14
Do you prefer to use a thick sheet and pierce them out or do you
use wire and bend it to make the setting. I've seen it done both
ways 

Whatever works, Erich. It’s near impossible to bend a large wire into
a tiny shape, and it is wasteful to buy a huge sheet to cut a tiny
shape out of it, though we recycle everything here. And you have
emerald cuts so you have to make rectilinear shapes. For a 1 or 2
carat center of that shape I’ll usually make a larger wire shape and
then cut it (carve it) to a good fit. 1/4 carats will definitely need
to be cut from sheet. I’ve even cut them in wax and cast them, though
I try to avoid that. Whatever works - maybe wire for the center and
sheet for the triangles, even.


#15

Hi Erich

I am going through my drawing records to sort out some constructional
details for you. Speed comes with practice but there is an order in
which to do things. If you are making collets and cutting the claws
out then the diameter of the collet relative to the stone is
important but is easily gauged when you know the required fit. Used
to make lots of these in the past.


#16
For future reference, approximately how long should it take a
competent jeweler to fabricate a 3 stone ring (assuming all
materials and stock are set to go and you don't need to pour an
ingot and roll/ pull stock)? 

A day, a week… Throwing together a wire-frame round stone
everyday ring is pretty easy. I have an oval imperial topaz with two
half-moons waiting to get picked up that’s very custom in every way.
As with all things, there are rings and then there are Rings. Just
because it’s a classic form doesn’t mean there’s no design to be
done. By your description I could make your ring without frills in a
day or two - that means answering the phone and slipping in a
setting job here and there and my day is 5-6 hours nowadays.

Six hours, maybe. Round stones MUCH faster. As i described parallel
parking to a novice driver - it’s a knack, a trick. Once you learn
the trick, it’s easy.


#17
I can't play this on my computer to confirm it, but from what I
remember Leonid makes a setting from a disc he domes, then shapes
into a cone using a block, then pierces: 

Yes, this is correct. But for 3 stone ring there is an easier way.
The collets can be simply turned in tube like fashion, which is
easier then doing it from disk. Since collets are soldered to each
other, as long as seam is used as joint area between collets, the
strength is equal to collet raised from solid disk.

Prongs can be cut like in Goldsmith Chronicles video. Sequence is
the same. Solder collets together; shape the bottom first; solder
lower bezel; and cut prongs last. It takes some practice cutting
three soldered collets, but result is a ring, which is strong and
rigid.

A few words about time required. If you do it first time, allow
yourself a month. 3 stone ring requires perfect alignment of stones.
From the side, the center should be slightly raised, but not too
much. Peripheral settings should be at the same angles to the
center. Transition between settings and shank should go together with
the rest of the appearance. These details require time to get it
right. It also requires concentration, and concentration is not easy
to maintain over prolonged periods of time. So take frequent breaks.
Never work if you feel tired! Speed means not making mistakes, so
re-works are not necessary. It does not mean moving your hands
faster!

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#18

Hi John,

I have an oval imperial topaz with two half-moons waiting to get
picked up that's very custom in every way 

Do you happen to have a picture you could share?

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.

[Edit]

How can I share files and pictures with the list?
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ftp

Or… send the files to the attention of service@ganoksin.com and
we will upload them for you…

[/Edit]


#19
I can do rounds in a New York Minute. Ok maybe 4 hours. I'm
guessing here because we roll and pull all of our own wire and
sheet. 

Just because that’s what Orchid is for, I’ll go a step further for
our OP’s benefit. Probably a lot of novices think that 3 stone rings
are three stones across the finger, and that they are. Two main types
are three settings held by a shank, and the basket (frame ring) type
that has two galleries. And those rings aren’t so hard to make when
you get the hang of them.

BUT. Tiffany started it with Lucida - now they’re called “criss-cross
rings” by the many imitators. Prongs woven and crossing over
underneath. One of the other usual things is to have the shank come
up and become the first prongs for the outer stones. And there’s
nothing to say that you can’t set diamonds down the shank or anyplace
else you like. 3 stone means three major stones, not ONLY 3 stones.
There are many other designs that have been done that are even more
elaborate. Really wide rings with goldwork and three stones nestled
into the center, gold coming around a large center with two smaller
stones set into a split shank, on the shoulders - lots of things. How
long it takes to make one really depends on what you mean by a three
stone ring - it’s broader than some might think. If it was just a
stock item, I’d just sell the stock item - make it yer own, as with
all things.


#20
I suspect your problems are not with technique but with design. And
by design I do not mean grandiose ideas, but simply making sure
that all parts relate to each other in some meaningful way. You
should not worry about time. Take whatever time you need. Quality
is way more important. 

Spot on Leonid! My biggest frustration with the project is simply
not knowing what kind of parameters 3-stone rings are designed
around. By that I mean, what the standard proportion between upper
and lower bezel are, the “ideal” thickness for the main bezel and
lower plate (or ratio of bezel thickness to stone size), the proper
thickness of wire for prongs, etc,… It is one of my main gripes
about jewelry that I’ve expressed before. There is a plethora of
out there on all the basics: soldering, basic setting,
etc., but there seems to be a startling void of in
regards to creating (for lack of a better word) "standard/classic"
jewelry beyond simplistic solitaires. I presume that much of that
would’ve been learned first-hand in some sort of
apprenticeship, but there are people like myself that immediately
found a style (granulation) and ran with it independent of what one
could call “standard” bench work/experience. Given, I used to work
during my college year summers for a local jeweler doing repair work
(it’s how I got into this in the first place), but learning basic
repair is nothing at all like advanced fabrication. Thus, once I “got
on a path”, I never got the opportunity to learn the standard,
classic jewelry fabrication techniques. In many ways, it feels a lot
like being able to discuss fluid-dynamics in German, but not having
the ability/vocabulary to order food, talk about the weather, get
around town…all the basics/essentials in life.

I agree very much about quality superseding time requirements.
However, I like to set goals for myself and I discovered that if
someone is able to create the same piece in a fifth of the time it
takes me, it leads me to believe that there is a better way to do
what I am doing and encourages me to innovate more. It is all about
optimizing my efficiency…not about getting it done faster. My
grandfather had a saying that has always stuck with me, “Why is
there never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to do
it over?”

Hamish- I would very much appreciate any structural design info you
can give me! It would really help me to see the proper ratios of
everything (prongs, bezel thickness, base plate, prong diameter to
stone size, etc.)

The thinnest part of your ring should NEVER be under the stones.
Always make the under structure of the stones heavier than the
thinnest part of the bottom of the shank. When the ring is worn if
it takes a knock, you want the ring to bend or shift at the shank.
Not under the stones. If it shifts under the stones they will
break, loosen or just pop out. 

Thanks for the advice Jo. I hadn’t actually considered that before. I
think next time I construct this thing it will help me establish
proper setting and shank thickness.

Thanks again everyone for your help with my questions! I really
appreciate the time all of you have taken to help me with this
project!

Erich C. Shoemaker
Erich Christopher Designs, LLC
www.ErichCDesigns.com