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"Cut-Down" - Techniques


In Diamond Setting there are two processes that are very difficult to cut, they are the “Cut-Down” &”Fish-Tail”. I would call these a “Post Graduate, University Level’ in Diamond Setting! To put this mildly, on a “Difficulty Scale of 10” they are definitely 50/10”. These are not for a Beginner, nor an Intermediate Level setter or jeweller! I will now describe the steps of “Cut-Down”.
Every step has to be well coordinated & precisely configured, if not, the results will be ‘mediocre, to poor’. I asked my favourite jeweller “in the large group of setters here in Toronto, how many of them can recreate this style of setting”. He said unequivocally & in all honesty said “there are only two and Gerry, you are one of them!!” To explain each step, is equally difficult! And these are not cut with any help from any ‘Computer Aided Designing” program.
Let me start in explaining that there will be only 4 gravers to be used. They are the Onglette #1, #2, Flat-graver #40 and then lastly, the Flat-graver-#41. That’s it, no more, except for the round burs that are used in setting the actual round stone.
How far apart should the stones be? Great question, I’m glad that you thought of it. I prefer the size of a 3.0 mm stone I’d like to have at least ½ of each stones diameter to be the “Rule of Thumb”. Why so little space? I don’t need to have too much of a separation, just enough to scrape the metals’ surface to create the little wire bead/claw with my Flat graver #41.
You can call it by any name you wish, just as long as you see them in the first series of photographs. With this kind of pattern, you can use different sizes of stones ‘side-by-side’, such as a 3.00mm, 2.50mm & then 3.75 mm with no problems!
How deep must you set the stone? The answer is the most important aspect of this ‘Cut-Down’. The ‘table’ of the stone must be lower than the surface of the metal, at least 20% lower if you were Bead-Setting. If the stone was any higher, you wouldn’t get enough ‘wire-bead’ to slide over the girdle!
Just how is this little wire/bead created? On the corner of the face of the #41 Flat graver, I will dig in with the corner, pivot & lean forward then as the graver is fully flat & digging in, then scrape the metal over the girdle of the stone. In essence you will have four ‘shavings of metal’ holding the stone in place. Now after examining the ‘table’ you must now see 4 distinct wires obscuring your vision or line of sight. That is all the metal you need, now what happens to the metal in between the two stones? I will be using my Onglette #1 graver to separate the ‘wires’ from the rest of the shank. On the outside of the gemstone leading to the edge. I will get my Flat Graver #40 and contour my cutting literally against the round shape of the exposed section of the stone. This is so a delicate procedure, you will see a half-round and gentle curve along the cutting edge against the rings. This does take much practice, to get this just right!

I’ll emphasize that you will be cutting deeper near the ‘wire-beads’ than in between the wires. This simple action will give you the desired curve that you are planning. In the following series of photographs you will just follow the curve of the stone and then your cutting will look like the ‘demo’-photograph. In your ‘minds-eye’ you should be planning a procedure ahead each & every cut of your graver. Always keep your tools sharp for the next important cut!! Never assume that your graver is able to cut smoothly without any rough cuts. We are to do one Bright-cut, please check your gravers at every cut you make. There is no second chance for a bright and beautiful cut!!!
Each cut must be done with surgical precision! Always use your 10X loupe. Attempt to use your #800 - #1,000 grit polishing-paper at all times. This is now where my bead-burnisher comes into play in our “Cut-Down” exercise! To smooth the wire-tips, I will use the ‘shaft’ of the bead-burnisher to rub the tips until they get smooth to your touch. Your graver blade must act as an extension of your fingers! With this kind of cutting, you can even set Genuine Emeralds, as all of the Bright-Cutting does not touch the soft gemstone.
How wide a plate of side of the shank can you use? You are only limited by your needs, I prefer to have at least one full stone diameter of the stone alongside the setting. (See my photograph-demo).
This is basically three stones in width, for one stone of cutting. For the inside of the two stones, a very easy method I like to build an elongated-pyramid in shape.
These will leave me four bright & shiny-cuts & four more reflective sides as well. When cutting this pyramid-style, there should be no flat-tips anywhere in this pattern. This alone takes much practice! (Again, see my demo-photograph)
As everything is now completed I will use my Pumice wheel of #180 grit and touch-up the sides of the ring. You must try not to let the rotating polishing wheel ruin any of your Bright-Cutting! If you wish, you can follow-up with your Pink Pumice of #1,000 grit.
At the close of this Diamond Setting exercise, go over every little detail with your 10x power loupe. If it looks good, then something is wrong…It has to look FANTASTIC!!!

All of the ‘bead-wires’ must not be joining any of the surrounding metal. The gentle ‘Curve’ against sides of the ring, must be apparent Inside pyramid in between the stones must look an elongated-pyramid!
(I went to a retail store owner and showed him my “Setting-rings as a Demo & Resume” & asked if he knew the name for this setting. He had no idea that it even had a name, but now you do and know how to do this wonderful style of setting!)
You can now practice these series of ‘cuts & angles’, when you have this procedure learned. Have fun, this is not an easy task! Remember, plan each of your setting steps ahead of time!
If you would like this setter to travel to your shop, I will gladly train you on the many styles of setting & Bright-Cutting. There are not many who can demonstrate this very intricate style of Bright-Cutting!
My next essay is on the “The Techniques of Fish-Tail Setting!” This will have a “Difficulty Level of 45 out of the scale of 10”.
Gerry Lewy!


This is pretty cool. I started setting stones by grave setting, then I went to bead setting and other types. This kind of reminds me of illusion setting only not squared on the edges of the design. I have been wanting to do some bright cutting for a while now and I’m just starting to explore this side of gold smithing/precious metal working. Anyways, thanks for posting this and writing the details in between pictures.
Can’t wait to see the techniques on fish tail setting,