4 prong setting: how to

Today I will come with a question for the more experienced (than me):

How would you fabricate something like this?

Would you start with a cone with sawed/filed areas? Solder together multiple parts? Cut one flat piece and then bend it into shape?

Image is taken from instagram from user dh.diamonds

Good ideas. I would rule out the cone that would be a thick cone to shape. Most head are soldered together anyway with really hard solder and put together. I would say either of the last two ideas that you mentioned. I like your last idea best. Obviously it is what you can tackle yourself. I would go the third route as cutting out and measuring on a plane is easier than indexing upright and angling. That’s me. Good thinking and good luck. Hoping to move to Brisbane one day! Holler

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Since you mentioned it. Why choose Australia over US? Any particular reason if you don’t mind? :blush:

You can get an idea here:

Making Decorative Crown Collet (jewelry-tutorials.com)

I made one along that line, a fair bit large (which is easier). This falls into the category of “If I can do it…”

There are other variations:

Neil A


Like many of the queries here, this one makes me ask, “why?” While there are ways to fabricate this kind of a ring, it is obvious that the way this was done was to make a wax model and cast it. Quite easy to find or carve a wax ring and bore all the holes, etc. and then you have a model which can be duplicated over and over. Probably this design was developed by software and was then carved on a CNC lathe by machine, which would be the best way to do it. A fair amount of work, but only done once for a typical commercial product which can be used over and over. In contrast, if you fabricate this, all the labor goes into one product and you can’t charge enough to recoup your costs. My mind boggles at the idea of making all of those collets and soldering them together…almost impossible. You could much more easily use bar stock and bore all the holes but there is a lot of layout work involved and easy to make a mistake somewhere and put a hole off center…not to mention that you are going to leave 2/3rds of your gold bar in dust in your tray. If you are off with some holes, your prongs could be too thin or thick…etc., etc. So my answer to how would you fabricate this is “I wouldn’t.” No one is ever going to know how much time you spent on this, whereas if you put the work into something more of a custom piece it becomes much more impressive.


This is a classic rex collet or Tiffany setting. They can be 4, 6, or 8 claw. The basic fabrication is to start with a cone and then carve down from the top to shape the claws and carve up from the bottom for decorative effect. Then solder on a base that will be held in the shank.

It’s a pretty basic construction once you understand the concept. It would never be made from a collection of pieces of wire. There are an infinite number of ways to modify the design to make it your own. Here is a video:


I follow a few accounts on instagram that post great videos on fabrication, as well as still pics of build progress. So many talented artists out there!! I aspire!

check them out…I am always fascinated!




seems like the same videos posted on both accounts…
I am confused about that, and just follow both!


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When I am teaching I make simple things like the video shows. When I am making custom for a client I make more elaborate things. I feel that it’s very important for people looking for a career in the jewelry trade to know how to do as many different skills as possible. The more you know the more tools you bring to your skills to the tool chest in your brain and hands. One of the hardest things to learn for a beginner is how to hand make a solitaire, to set the stone and have everything be perfectly straight, crisp and even. After they are done and I am satisfied, I’ll have my students size the ring down, and then size it up again without thinning the shank. I’ll never forget the first time I hand fabricated a three stone ring. It took me two tries to get the center section just right. And yes when the job calls for it I buy a nice die struck crown. Never cast though.


Jo said, “…when the job calls for it I buy a nice die struck crown. Never cast, though.” Your thoughts on why, Jo? -royjohn

I know you did not ask me but I will tell you why I would not choose a casting over a fabricated/die struck piece. I might be wrong :blush:

First reason, the texture you get on the surface of a casted piece. It requires more finishing.
Second reason stems from the first one. Intricate details are more difficult to finish, if not impossible sometimes.
Third reason and this depends on who does it, the casted piece can have porosity issues, even hidden to the eye that will lead to problems down the road

Just my 2 cents. Now let’s see what Jo thinks about it

This is not to say that nothing should be cast, everything has its time and place


Cast metal is inherently weaker than forged metal.
When you forge metal, either by hand or in a rolling mill or by die strking, the grain structure changes under the pressure and the piece becomes tougher. The unworked grain structure of cast metal makes it much easier to break. A setting made with cast prongs will be very prone to breakage.
These days lots of CAD designed pieces have cast beads for pavé, but those are so short, thick, and close to the surface that there is not much chance of them catching on anything and having a force applied that will break them.
A cast Tiffany or other prong setting will not have sufficient integrity to stand up to much lateral force, which is something that needs to be accounted for in a solitaire ring. And cast prongs might even crack as you are pushing them.
Don’t do it.

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Years ago, maybe close to 50, a local jewelry store sent me an unsolicited repair to stretch the size of a cast ring several sizes. Not having a clue about the differences between a cast ring and a forged ring, I went ahead and tried to increase the size the only way that I knew how to do it. I started pounding on the shank with a steel hammer. All was going well until all of a sudden the shank broke in a very jagged rough fissure and I had a ring in two pieces. This is when I learned the difference between a raw casting and a die struck or forged piece. I sent the ring back and said that I was sorry, but it broke and I never heard from them again, Thank God…Rob


What Elliot Nesterman said. Even when I use a cast piece I always add forged metal prongs or bezel. Not only are the prongs stronger and more resilient, but it makes cleaning up and pre polishing the seat for the stone and the top of the piece much easier.
Oh and by the way, When and where did the term “casted” come from? This seems to be more common these days. For over 50 years a cast piece was just called cast, not casted.
Silly I know. but still weird to the ears for both my husband Tim and I. Oh and he works in a major platinum casting facility.
And another thing buy this book by my friend James Binnion. Really just do it. Even an old war horse like me learned from it’s an invaluable addition to any metalsmith’s library. [New Book] Jewelry Metals by James Binnion
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.


I have seen it too, grammar change with time as most other things.
And unless some push back it will permanently change as times go by.
Not necessarily bad though, even though I feel sometimes precision are lost.

Not a topic in this forum though :wink:

I cringe every time I read or hear “casted”. Goes right along with “I could have went”. Maybe because I am 73. I have even seen it in commercial ads. I have Jim’s book. It is full of good information.


O.K., First, I would refuse the job as I see it. Could I fabricate this? Perhaps, but not as well, or as quickly as any of a dozen manufacturers, who have molds, or cad records to produce something similar. Yes, it would take great skill, to produce something with inadequate structure to support a shank from which almost everything has been removed to add too many, too large diamonds to allow adequate structure. This is a perfect example of a continuing trend in the industry to produce rings with structural components which leave too little metal to support the desired number of diamonds. If the customer insists on a ring like this, give her the photo, to have and hold, and contemplate, then design something similar with more gold to support the stones! For Heaven’s sake, it appears that the shank is even “u” shaped, removing the last vestige of structure. We actually sized something like this from “W” some years ago, and rebuilt the entire top of the ring (went up “lebenty” seven.sizes). The customer (we thought, fortuitously) lost the ring. We advised that we would size another for him, but at a cost appropriate for the work required (darned if he didn’t accept)! …and we did it, again. Sorry for the rant; but we all see the danger created by computer design every day. You examine a fancy lady’s multi-dia. ring, and notice that the intricate sub-structure inside the shank is paper thin, like small spider webs. ((The fact that the computer program can design it, and you can cast it from the otherwise impossible to produce model, doesn’t mean that it should be done!)) Again, my apologies, I’m not trying to attack anyone; this style craze is just frustrating…now where’d I leave my Abacas?..


I put the question of whether a cast head is weaker than a fabricated or dies struck head to a friend of mine who is a commercial caster. He is also a self-taught bench jeweler of some thirty or more years experience. His opinion was that there isn’t any difference in durability if the cast head is cast under gas rather than with a torch. He said that with a torch you are always going to have some porosity and weakness because oxygen cannot be totally prevented from getting to the metal. However, with a Neutec casting machine or similar, the metal is always under an atmosphere of inert gas from the beginning of heating to the end of casting, so there is no porosity. So the strength is the same as that of a fabricated or die struck head. Now I am just putting this out that and don’t know enough to dispute it. I would think that a fabricated head would be about the same as a head cast under gas because the metal isn’t work hardened that much by fabricating from sheet. I would say that the head that is die cast is work hardened more because it is forged in being die cast.

My friend said that a head cast under gas is a “forever head” just as a die cast one could be. As far as prongs being weakened by wear, he said any metal, “even steel,” could be abraded in time.

Just putting this out there for your consideration. I hadn’t thought about casting under gas being stronger…-royjohn

Sorry but your friend is wrong. Casting under gas only makes the casting come out better but does not make it harder. Argon gas reduces the amount of oxygen and makes for less porosity, but it still doesn’t make the molecules line up like wrought metal.
"The ‘hardness’ of a metal refers to how well it resists wear (scratches) and tensile strength describes the ‘chewiness’ (flexibility, brittleness). Porosity is the name for the small pits and pockets of space that one can find in a piece of metal. Together these metallurgical characteristics highlight key differences between forged and cast metals.

Hand fabrication, the technique of forging a metal ingot and then further compressing it through rolling mills and draw plates from which goldsmiths form jewelry into a work of art, requires years of experience to master. The steps alone are basic enough but the understanding of and ability to freely manipulate metals by hand is anything but. From their raw state, forged metals can increase in hardness and tensile strength by up to two times over their cast counterparts. The benefits are real. Harder metals offer better resistance to everyday dings and scratches. Their greater tensile strength allows rings to better hold their shape since the metal is more difficult to displace — essential for securing gemstones in their settings. With cast jewelry, the lower density materials means that it is more susceptible to shifting from those same bumps and knocks. Gemstones can fall out of their settings, sometimes never to be seen again."


I’m not a metallurgist, but I’ve always heard that the density of castings and forgings was pretty much the same, and what makes the difference is the coarseness or fineness of the crystals or “grain” in the metal and the way they’re arranged. The theory that made the most sense to me was that heat treatment and forging converts these crystals from a regular array, analogous to bricks stacked in parallel rows and columns, to an irregular one, more like staggered rows of bricks in a wall, and makes the metal more resistant to cracking. Of course, the presence of pits and oxides in the metal, especially in a prong, will weaken it significantly, and melting under a cover gas will help with that. But I don’t believe that a cast setting is ever going to be as strong as one forged from sheet, no matter how good the casting technique is. But if someone’s done tests that prove I’m wrong about this, I’d love to hear about them, since I mostly do castings and would like to be able to claim that they’re as strong and durable as fabricated pieces (or would be, if my casting technique was better.).

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O.K., as I understand these processes, die striking is a forging process. I expect that the exact mixture of alloys might differ a bit from one manufacturer to another, but the idea is that the molecular compression, of forging does strengthen the metal. Other considerations might be variations of metals which might cause embrittlement, whether cast or forged. It was alleged, at one time, that Jabel heads were more likely become to brittle with use or working, but we were never convinced. There is likely a fine line between alloy mixtures created for hardness, or workability. As a general rule, it seems that forgings are a bit stronger, and will wear better in use. Jabel, the old A. Jaffe, & Sons, Church, & Co., all used quite a bit of forged product. Given the nature of these firms, the overall quality of manufacture gave an excellent product. They all did, however, specialize in forgings, and they were certainly premium products. Our experience has been that, in long term use, the forged product lasts longer, with fewer problems.