Detailed Diamond Setting Techniques

“Detailed Diamond Setting Techniques”

~these are tad difficult, so be careful!”

~ from the setting bench of “Gerry Lewy”

  • What is one of the causes of a “rippling or jagged” effect around an inside cutting edge in a Gypsy or Flush setting? How can this be avoided? When an edge of a cutting tool (of any shape) glances over or hits a facet it will ride above that face. In turn, it will transfer the difference in angles to the tool and then to the gold. So how can the setter avoid these undesirable results? To keep cutting back is not the answer! What I do in these circumstances is to hold my graver securely and maintain an 1) outward and 2) forward cutting motions. This can be achieved by also putting your finger right near the cutting edge and with this will have a clean result. Do not let any part of the tool touch the facets while cutting the bezel inner frame of the diamond. If you do, you are back to the beginning. Try and avoid changing the holding pattern of your hand, let your ring clamp do the turning , keep your cutting hand in the same position and don’t change your cutting angles. If you are using a Flat #39 or #40graver, reshape the absolute cutting edge to be thin as possible nearest the diamond. This also will avoid the unnecessary touching of the facets as you are cutting along. Don’t lean too far on the inside cutting angle.

  • What is the correct filing angle to finish off a large claw? If you are using a Triangular file of either #2 or a #4 cut 20 cm in length you will notice that either side has a 45 degree angle built in. Simple? But why at this angle? The effect is that during polishing, the cloth wheel will actually brighten the sides of that claw. If the sides are vertical, no way can this effect be achieved. If you are using a “Pillar” file, you might not be filing at this angle continually. The hand does and can get tired for a few seconds so why not let the filing tool do the work for you? To achieve this filing stance, is to rest your ‘finger pad’ on the top-flat part of the Triangular file, this will automatically give the angle you so desire. Simple?

  • When drilling holes with a twist drill , I generally use only three sizes #.9mm, 1.0mm, or maybe a 1.1mm, no more and no less! No matter the size of diamond, don’t use a .8 mm or less. When you are drilling through the metal, heat builds up rather fast and over-heating takes place. Always use an oil-based lubricant. What causes the breakage? The hot twist drill binds and stops, but the motor still wants to turn. I then decide to activate the motor at a rather slower speed than a setting speed.

Do you use a ring clamp when hammering a ring with a bezel? If you do, you will most definitely notice that the ring clamp is absorbing much of ‘hitting action’. You should, from my experience, please use a ring mandrel. As you are hitting on a solid metal substance, for each direct hit will be non-absorbed and little of the hitting energy will be lost. Try it……you’ll like it!

  • Do you use a saw blade when setting a major sized stone? Don’t laugh with this suggestion, I use it all the time. When you are finished make a bearing cut and attempting for push over the large thick claws. You will find only a part of the actual claw making the contact. You should not proceed in pressing over the claws any more than you have to. You just allow much too much stress in griping the crown facets, hence squeezing or worse…breakage! What do you do now? If at all possible bring back that claw just a tad to give more room to start the initial saw blade cut.

Lay your #4/0 saw blade on the “Bezel or Star Facet” and with care draw the cutting blade in between the diamond and the gold and then proceed with this cutting action till the #4/0 blade comes to a stop right at the girdle. This ‘stopping’ will be at farthest point or at the juncture of the metal where it meets the girdle. When you are using the saw blade try and extend the cut to just beyond the girdles’ position. If the stone has a thin girdle I would hate to see the gold squeeze that diamond. Once this line has been drawn, you may apply even pressure with your serrated, non-slipping steel pusher and make most of the gold meet the facets. Now you can proceed with the normal trimming or filing to suit your needs.

  • How do YOU pick up diamonds? When I was learning setting over 40 years ago,

my teacher taught me a few methods, one of which I will explain here. Grind up some charcoal from your bench-soldering block or burned wood and mix this composition with Bees Wax. This Bees Wax may be bought at any jewellery tool supplier. Charcoal is used as a substance that prevents sticking the diamonds to the wax, almost as a ‘quick release’ mechanism. I have seven little wax dobs of many sizes & thicknesses of this stuff at easy arms reach, if I lose one, there is another. For easy holding, I roll this wax on to a used large head bur, so the wax won’t slip off while in use.

  • What if the girdle is very thick, so now what? Many times I have seen diamonds with very thick girdles. So thick that there is a space between the bearing-cut and the stone in question. This is not acceptable in any circumstance. Supposing you “the setter” try another method of preparing the ‘seats’. I found a method of alleviating this problem, try and use a “bud” bur right at the groove. Start the grinding and press this slow rotating bur into the gold so the bearing matches the thickness of the stones’ girdle. This pre-selection of bud is very important. If the bud bur is too large, again you’ll have another “larger and wider” space to contend with. I suggest hand picking each bur that will be slightly larger than the size of the girdle. As each bud bur has a little point, I call this the “leading edge” or “guiding tool”. I will then very carefully place the “guide” inside the bearing cut and slowly allow the bud bur to make a wider horizontal cut of that claw.

    But how far ‘in’ would you go? You are only making the bearing cut WIDER, NOT DEEPER. Now that the groove has met your needs, you can actually push the side of the claw right up to the stone and have no space at all. I use this method regularly

  • Checking for security for loose diamonds…! I read in one major monthly jewellery trade magazine that is correct to use a pair of metal tweezers and grip the girdle and rotate the stone…duh? How about breaking off the girdle of that stone? I have just one word for you… DON’T. My friend who used to be a diamond setter was setting over 1,000 stones one week and delivered his work. The uninitiated “quality control inspector” had no idea about breakage on thinner girdles on “VS-G” diamonds. That person used tweezers on every diamond, and complained that each one was chipped in two places. It was then that 1,000 diamonds were replaced at the company’s expense! If you have to use tweezers, please use the plastic version.

  • How can you break out CZ’s from “set in wax” casting? I won’t go into how they break, they just do! That is not my topic to discuss at this present time but they do! The question is how to get them out. From many years of experience in this style of unsetting, you must use extra eye care. When you are tackling this

stone while still in the confines of the gold, they have a great tendency of

exploding. What! Exploding stones? You bet they do, but if you don’t wear safety

glasses you will be wearing the stones on your cheeks and in your eyes. I will use

a ring mandrel to hold the ring. The reason being is that the wooden ring

clamp absorbs much of the ‘impact of hitting’ from the hand held hammer. Not

to mention that it frees up one of your hands.

Place the ring securely on your mandrel and seek out a broken bur that still has a sharp point. With this end of the bur hold the point just 2 millimeters ABOVE the ring. Now start hitting the stone with your small hammer. After each and subsequent downward hit, great

amount of energy is given to that stone. The action is now like a “mini-pile

driver”! The resulting impact causes the stone to explode and the need of “picking

and groping” for unseen pieces of CZ’s in the gold is greatly diminished. For any

further removal, I would use a graver and not use a bur, as the bur will be worn

down from the CZ on the “Moh’s Scale of Hardness” @ 8.5.

        ~ For further information on diamond setting from the bench of “Gerry Lewy”.