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Bead Setting; circa 1940's


#1

Before there were Foredom machines and the simple burs, how did the
diamond setter set diamonds? Let me enlighten you all on this
ongoing Pave’ topic.

First of all, the diamond setter had to drill a hole in the metal by
using a ‘pump drill’. This looked like a little pump drill that you
used to make fires. At the end of the pump there was a 'hand-made’
twist-drill and using an ‘up & down’ till the twist drill finally
made a hole into the metal…in those days it was all Platinum, or
just simply 9kt.gold-sheet overlaid on a silver base. This was in
"Haddon Garden", London England, equivalent to New York City centers.

My teacher/mentor didn’t use or have perfectly cut stones like today
with 58 facets. These were ‘Mein-cut’ with little sharp corners. Once
the hole was made he had to use a right-sided created Onglette*
Graver and hand-carve open a hole to match the size and

shape of that specific diamond.

He had to visually figure out how deep that stone should go. Carving
out the metal until the required depth was achieved…Let me stress
this was done on every darn stone that had to be set. Carve, carve
and measure and more carving with that hand formed Onglette graver.
He had to visualise how the stone would be placed in a certain way.
Remember, no burs were used back then.* Remember no round girdles in
those days, sometimes the hand-carved hole looked like a square
opening. Those ‘table facets’ of the stone were very high, so what
did he do then? He just wanted to have the girdle below the metal,
thus leaving the table to be higher than the surrounding metal.
Imagine setting an Eternity ring with 30+ diamonds in a
Tiffany-styled band, in only 2 days. This is no ‘snap to fit’, or
with the ‘bead raising’ problems, no claws to push over,…this was
diamond setting at it’s best…(?)

My teacher gave me his carving graver, it is called a "Bull Stick"
and his pumpdrill. I found this very challenging. I set a ring like
this, but it was not economical or cost-effectiveto set stones like
this nowadays.

All of the metal was “Pre-Cut”, that is, all of the "Rough-Cutting"
and “Bright-Cutting” was done prior to setting of the stones. Yes, we
did use BEADS !!!

I’d love to come over to your own bench and let you see how delicate
these setting steps can be. The tolerance for perfection is 100%,
and nothing less!!!

Gerry!


#2
 First of all, the diamond setter had to drill a hole in the metal
by using a 'pump drill'. This looked like a little pump drill that
you used to make fires. At the end of the pump there was a
'hand-made' twist-drill and using an 'up & down' till the twist
drill finally made a hole into the metal..in those days it was all
Platinum, or just simply 9kt.gold-sheet overlaid on a silver base.
This was in "Haddon Garden", London England, equivalent to New York
City centers. 

I dont wish to be pedantic,
but its Hatton" garden,
and its not a twist drill.
Its a spade drill which is ground to cut in both directions,
when used on a pump drill.


#3

The spade end drill bits are very useful for drilling jet and amber.
I also use the helix pump drill for fine holes in precious metals
with conventional drill bits. They dont ball up like powered drills
as the reverse movement removes all of the swarf.

Nick Royall