Bright cutting

Hi all

Sorry for the length of this post. But when promises are broken I
feel the need to address the problem in my small way. We were
promised some photos of bright cutting bezels using an onglette
graver. I know things get in the way, I have promised photos and
never delivered, but that is because they are so bad I would just
look like a total moron.

These photos have not appeared. Also surprise was expressed that
some top end jewellers do not bright cut bezels. I also posted at the
time that I had alternatives to bright cutting bezels. Here they are.
Some of this is taken from “Diamond Setting, The
professional approach” By Robert R. Wooding. This book is well worth
the money. Less than $50. Some is from my own experience.

“This book was written to teach diamond setting. It is basic enough
to be understood by an apprentice who has very little background in
the jewelry industry, yet sufficiently in depth to benefit an
experienced diamond-setter.”

So instead of paying the hundreds of dollars if not over $1000 for a
setting course it may well be more economical and beneficial to buy
a copy of this book. And then practise. Also from what I have seen
there are many who teach gem setting who do not have a clue.

Note this is not about orchid setting teachers. the setting teachers
on orchid are of the highest quality and if you can get to one of
their classes do it!

I have seen courses advertised in the states $300 plus for a
weekend, but the photos show bezels not down and polished etc. If I
made such cr*p twice in The School for Silversmiths I would have been
laughed at and made to do it again. My kids at school can set better
than these guys. Be very careful before you spend your money on a
course. Look at the teachers work with a loupe before you part with
your cash.

Again if you can get to an orchid setting teacher do it they are the
best. and the money would be well spent. they ain’t cheap but they
are excellent. and they will make you money.

Here is the as to finish the inside of a bezel for a
faceted stone. In this case a diamond but works for any stone harder
than 7.

"Burnish the inside of the bezel onto the diamond. This will ensure
the diamond will be tight, and it will make a nice finish on the
encircling metal nearest the diamond.

To burnish in this manner, use a tool such as any bur shaft which
has the bur broken off but is still tapered at the end. Round the
point by twisting it across an oil stone. Afterwards, emery the
point then polish it across the paper. Force the blunt end of the
metal into a graver handle. This will make a fine, and permanent,
burnishing tool for this type of burnishing.

The burnishing procedure is risky, but much of the risk can be
eliminated by keeping the tip of the burnisher smoothly polished,
and by proceeding cautiously. Begin by holding the tool upright and
circling inside the rim slowly. Contact will be made with the
diamond by the polished tip of the tool, but the pressure is applied
outward to the bezel. It is better to increase the speed and make
several revolutions around the rim, rather than applying excessive
pressure to complete the task with fewer revolutions. Eventually,
the metal of the bezel will option to mold flush with the diamond
and become bright. Burnishing in one direction will ensure a brighter

This process will layer down a fine shim of metal against the stone
and give a highly polished rim.

This is one alternative to bright cutting. For use with sterling or
18 kt.

A highly polished inside rim of a bezel can be done by using a felt
cone in a flexi using rouge or hyfin as a polish. Move the felt
point in one direction around the bezel rim. Use low speed and take
your time. This will highly polish the inside of the rim.

Alternatively use a green shofu point. This is good for softer
stones as the shofu will not mark the softer stone.

Many people bezel set in fine silver. This leaves an uneven/wavy
finish on the inside of the bezel. Use the shofu point as this will
still leave the waves but will bring them to a high polish. This
gives an interesting effect.

A note on bezel thicknesses. I prefer to use different thicknesses of
bezels depending on the size of the stone. For stones 7 mm and over I
use.7mm to.8 mm thick bezels. For stones under this size I use .5 mm.

Using .7 mm for a bezel will usually mean the setter needs to hammer
set the stone. But it gives for sterling enough thickness of metal
to clean off the firescale.

For setting cabochons. Set stone, I first use a pusher then a
rocker, and clean up with barrette files that are polished on the
edges. Keep the files flat and carefully go round the cab. I use from
0 to 4 barrettes. Then I polish with a felt wheel in my flexi and use
tripoli then hyfin. Only do this with stones harder than the files!

For cabochons using a wide strip of metal for the the bezel, say 1
mm, gives a “mirror setting” around the cab.

Newbies start with fine silver as it is easier to get the metal down.
There should be no gap between the bezel and the stone. none! Then
move up to sterling it will take more strength, but you can hammer

OK what is hammer setting? Get an old jewellers file cut the handle
off. File the cut off end to a rectangle 1 mm by 2 mm. Then sand end
on 1200 grit. Put ring up mandrel, Note stone should not protrude
below bezel, or you will smash the stone! use dapping hammer or
whatever you have but not your planishing hammer, to tap the bezel
down onto the stone. start with bezel side facing the mandrel handle.
when halfway round take ring off and turn round.

Don’t be dismayed at the marks on the bezel you can clean these up
with barrette file. Then polish.

I hope this can help out with those waiting for the promised
onglette photos.

Perhaps Jo and Tim could post some as the other poster has not been
able too.

Do I bright cut? Sometimes but most of the time I use other the
other methods.

The customers never seem to notice which method I use.

All the best hope this is of some use

Hi Richard,

I always learn something from your posts! Thank you for sharing your
expertise and experience.

Donna W
Huntsville, AL

Richard- Excellent post. I just have a couple of quick additions…

The burnishing procedure is risky

You are so right about having a well polished point to burnish with.
The only thing I add is spit for a lubricant.

On larger faceted stones over a couple of carats I like a heavier
bezel and so it’s important to slightly bevel the top outside edge a
little to help it move over the stone. Often we use a 1/2 onglette to
tidy up the inside edge. In that case we do go in both directions to
smooth out any bumps and then use the burnisher. Again careful
control and a lubricant is important. If it’s a scary soft stone I’ll
do that when the bezel is 90% of the way down and then take it down
the rest of the way.

I personally have more control over a hammer and a chasing tool than
a rocker or burnisher. But then I’m a hammer girl by nature and feel
most comfortable with one. I was a liturgical silversmith for a few
years so a hammer is most comfortable for me.

We start our students out with a ton of cheap CZs and silver so that
they can test their limits without a huge expense.

It’s all about practice practice practice and what works best for

Jo Haemer