Copper, Steel or Brass stone pusher?

The jury is still out on this topic, but here are my reasons of
which and when each ‘pusher’ should be used. Let’s discuss them

Copper pusher, for my tastes, is used when you are Gypsy Setting
delicate stones such as Emeralds or other semi-precious stones. This
pusher will not compress the gold around the girdle as much as the
harder brass might, I did say might! Brass is still too hard of a
metal, but its still softer than steel. You can use this metal when
setting with PLATINUM. I would rub an emery paper over its “pushing
tip” surface to prevent slippage; you can also apply this on Copper.
Brass gives me better pushing results than the softer Copper.

Now comes the ultimate metal and why and when it should be used!

Some “Do’s and Don’ts” The following tips were never taught to but
were learned from many of my 45 years of experience. So here they

Steel is the hardest metal to use; it’s too unforgiving in the
process off “Gypsy Setting”. The tip or edges of the pusher can and
always will mark or scratch the stone. It could fracture a facet,
scratches a Turquoise or any softer Moh’s scaled stone. The serrated
edge of the pusher will leave DEEP indentations in the metal. The
steel pusher and this particular application with Platinum will not
be pleasant! The marks left for “cleaning from setting” will reduce
the much needed thickness of the gold or Platinum. My particular
steel pusher has a serrated tip on this tool, why? This is to
prevent certain slipping of this tool if you are pushing over metal
that is too close to the larger diamond.

I would never push over with steel that might encumber the final
result of delicate engagement diamonds. I always use a file to make
little grooves in the “softened” steel. Once that this steel pusher
is made “hard” again, I am sure that this tool will provide me with
many years of freedom from unnecessary “accidents”. I, at this time
also, will use an emery disk and make little touch-ups as to smooth
the pusher “tip”. This “fine tuning” will remove any deep cuts in
the steel that will, in turn, make deep gouges into the gold.

I cannot state further the danger in using Steel in place of the
softer Copper or Brass. One word I will use is DON’T! Copper or
Brass does not have the strength in applying heavy downward pressure
for thicker and wider engagement ring claws. You might encounter
“slippage” in any direction with the previous stated two ‘softer’
metals. With the ‘stronger’ steel, no loss of pressure or slippage
will be encountered. Direct and intentional applied pressure will be
achieved! Need I say more on this topic?

Gerry, the Cyber-Setter
toll free cell phone 1-877-850-0003.

I use all of these (copper, brass, & steel) plus sterling and fine
silver pushers made from 6 or 8 ga. square stock.

To prevent the slippage problem that Gerry mentions, simply put the
working end of the pusher on piece of used 180, 220 or 320 wet or
dry sandpaper, on top of a steel bench block. GENTLY tap the handle
end with a plastic or rawhide mallet. The coarser the paper the
rougher the end of the pusher will be. It can be just a slightly
matted finish and be 200% safer to work with around delicate stones.
As you observe it getting slick again, just make another trip to the
paper & block.

You must make your steel pusher out of softer stainless or mild
steel. Remove and anneal tool steel for this method to work on them.

Dunno why, but all of the commercial pushers seem to be made of
hardened tool steel, with an almost polished face… sure, they
never deform, but how many times do you slip?

Another method to stop slippage is find a very fine checkering file
at a gunsmith’s supply, and file the working face of the pusher with
that. It puts tiny muliple lines in with each stroke. Make a pass or
two in one direction, then one or two 90 degrees to that.

Using these softer pushers will lead to deforming the working end
and mushrooming, but I would much rather discipline it with a couple
strokes of a flat file… than pay for replacing the clients (or my)

Brian Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts