Annealing 22k Gold With Diamonds In

Hi All,
A customer ordered a comfort fit 22k 6mm gold ring, 2mm thick, flush set with VS G diamonds scattered around the band. The first pilot hole was for a tiny 1.5mm, and of course, resulted in not only the drill bit breaking halfway through the hole at a wonky angle, but after going in next to it with a .4 ball bur to help it out, resulted in the ball head snapping off of that and lodging next to the broken drill. Oh joy!

I went to the backyard so the steam could release from my brain before my head exploded and did my best to zen out as much as possible.

After wasting a heck of a lot of time, I finally got both pieces out and set a larger stone in that spot. Second stone went in well. For the 1.7mm third stone, the drill bit breaks halfway through AGAINNNNN. Luckily no one was around to hear what came out of my mouth!

After initially rounding out this ring, I didn’t anneal it. My thought was that 22k is soft enough. I have about 14 more diamonds to set in this ring, and I’m tempted to anneal with the three stones in place, staying off the stones with the flame, and air cool.

With this quality of stones, I’m hesitant and I’d love some advice before going ahead. I’m also hesitant as I don’t want the customer to end up with a ring where the gold is as soft as butter.

Maybe I should just go bigger with the pilot drill, as the broken ones were .7mm… Diamonds will range from 1.25mm ~ 2.5mm.



my first thought was…new drill bits, low and slow speed, light pressure…let the drill bit do the work, lots of lubrication…

when drilling for tiny melee stones, i will start with a .5mm drill in a spiral hand drill to open up the spot where i centerpunched (to mark the spot )(this is more for when i have tight tolerances and cannot have the drill wander at all)

then i re drill using progressively larger drill bits…say .7mm, then .8mm, then 1.0mm fir example (trying to not cut too much metal at one time)

i use a Lucas Lowboy rheostat foot pedal for my flexshaft…it is very very smooth and has very delicate speed control, especially at the low end.

i drill slowly, watching the curl of metal come up…with very light pressure…let the drill do the work…(when you insert the drill, spin it to make sure you dont have a pack of wonky or bent off centered drills…it happens!

low and slow on the speed…all my broken drill bits have come from too much pressure bearing down and too fast of a speed dulling the drill bit…or wonky off centered tips

just some thoughts for you.


Thank you Julie, all good advice! I do have a Lucas Lowboy as well. As I proceeded with the ring, I did use a larger drill bit and went slower with lighter pressure. I didn’t anneal. So far so good ~ no embedded drill bit stuck in another supernatural position today!

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