Diamond coated files

The OP asks for diamond files to file a stone down so it fits into a

Everybody suggests various sources for files.

Nobody suggests to make the bezel correctly in the first place.

Really people, that’s like taking a sledge hammer and pounding your
SUV’s roof lower so it fits into your garage.

Filing a polished stone to make it fit is an awful practice, no

Hans, the concerned gem cutter.

OK Hans,

What you say is true, make the bezel correctly, to fit the stone

However, there are always those mistakes that creep in, humans being
humans, and also there is always more than one way to do any task.
And, in this case, the solutions are not singular. One could remove
the bezel and make a new bezel OR one could re-shape the stone
gently to fit the existing bezel OR one could use a another stone
that would fit the existing bezel. I admit here publicly, I have
done all of the above. I do not judge myself inept, clumsy, bad,
wrong, and I would not judge anyone else’s work based on the methods
used to make their work. That kind of judgement just gets in the

In this case the ends justify the means. Why not?

Linda Kaye-Moses

Hi all

Nobody suggests to make the bezel correctly in the first place.
Really people, that's like taking a sledge hammer and pounding
your SUV's roof lower so it fits into your garage. Filing a
polished stone to make it fit is an awful practice, no exceptions. 

Totally agree. I specialize in bezel set stones. It is not hard to
make the bezel fit the stone exactly.

That is what mandrels and hammers are for.

all the best

In this case the ends justify the means. Why not?

Apart from the fact that it is lousy workmanship, let me tell you
why not, Linda.

I had to remove an expensive Tanzanite from a ring a while back and
the ignoramus goldsmith before me had used a file to “shape” the
stone to fit the bezel.

Only on one corner.

So when I showed my customer she immediately said that it was me
that had damaged the stone and that I was trying to cover up my

Problem was, there was no way I could prove the is wasn’t me,
because I had unset the stone in my own workshop.

So thanks for nothing, but I could not really blame her.

That eventually cost me $2800 for a replacement stone.

It cost my reputation, because other jewellers always believe the
worst of one in this trade.

It cost me my customer and the job I was going to do, some $4500 of

Luckily, I am a gem cutter as well as a goldsmith, so I was able to
re cut the stone, make a new ring for it and sell it onwards some two
years later.

And before anyone says that they only file on cheap stones, remember
that the emotional value on a gemstone often has no monetary value.

A damaged stone is a damaged stone, and filing a polished stone
damages the stone.

Nothing changes that.

Out of curiosity, if you’re experienced in lapidary why shouldn’t
you? All you need are the right tools, polishing materials and other
things we have as jewelers -perhaps, that is, outside of faceted
stones. But most stones I work with aren’t, and tend to be cabs with
their own personalities. And of course, I could always be mistaken in
the above.

Not all gems are of equal value of course, and I certainly don’t
always work with the highest grade. material.I feel safe enough
altering the much less valuable or the non-precision cut stones when

As Linda pointed out, we are only human beings. Some of us may be
better at one part of this field than others; mistakes are an
inherent quality, and it’s one we can choose to learn from. But in
the mean time we do the job that’s in front of us as best we know

Respectfully, Hans, what is the basis of your opposition?


I don’t have much of a problem with free forms as they don’t have an
inherent shape and therefore value (though I still don’t think it
should be done), but I don’t believe there’s any excuse at all for
grinding down edges or girdles of faceted stones to make up for a
mistake on the part of the goldsmith. If a mistake was made, the
piece should be fixed or redone. End of story. Cutting the stone is
devaluing it, defrauding the customer if they aren’t made aware of
it before their purchase, and frankly representative of terrible

I’m actually quite surprised that people are defending this practice
under the pretext that because they messed up during construction,
they should mess up the stone too rather than do it right the first
time or be obligated to fix their mistake. Perhaps I’ve
misunderstood, but it seem that they would rather pass their
mistakes onto the customer and leave it for another goldsmith to find
someday as Hans has already experienced. (Something similar happened
to me too years ago while working for a jeweler in my home town. It
wasn’t as expensive of a piece as the tanzanite Hans had to deal
with, but it happened all the same and hurt reputations across the
board… .the store suffered and I was accused by the owner initially
of trying to cover a mistake when I unset the stone).

My grandpa used to have a saying hanging near his office: “why is
there never enough time to do the project right, but always enough
time to do it over?”

Erich C. Shoemaker

Validity of filing a stone to go into poor fitting bezel, might tie
in to a former topic.

Possibly, because I am fairly new at silversmithing, addressing this
has been going in and out of my head. I’m realizing, there are a
number of different levels to this question.

First off, what level of skill and development ? A beginner, making
so called “art jewelry”, using inexpensive stones, with the pricing
reflecting all of this ? Could be filing a stone is acceptable.

But then, with experience and development, skill increases, more
expensive stones come in to play, justifiably. pricing might go up
too. At this level, good to say one can reliably make a bezel to fit
a stone.

Part of this is personal standard, part experience and skill level.

After all is said and done this is a learning process, good to have
techniques to to fall back on when needed. So in a sense, to me,
this goes back, re-opening the discussion regarding art jewelry,

Part experience and skill level, Part is personal standard,

Thanks for listening,

Are we discussing faceted or cabochon cut stones? Did the OP mean
the later? j

I see you’ve answered my questions just as I was asking them. And I
think we’re also talking about new to us stones, vs stones from
customers. And in that regard, I agree, emotional value means I bring
out the kid gloves and I don’t change a thing. When it’s new-to-me,
though, I won’t hesitate to alter a stone that I believe needs it. My
stones frequently are the cheap ones. Of course I polish and buff it
after. I’m not experienced in faceting, so I don’t mess with those.

I do, Hans, completely respect your beliefs and work.:slight_smile: Perhaps this
is one of those areas we ought to agree to disagree on?


In reply to the question as to whether the stone being filed was
faceted or a cab, the reply is that it was a cabochon, which by the
way, I had cut and polished myself. I would not dream of doing any
filing on a faceted stone.

Just to further clarify the matter, I do not advocate filing of
stones, andhave only done it only on those rare occasions when there
was no other option available.

In the first place I take great pride in my work, and my bezels are
very carefully made. I tend to make them tight as I do not make
loosely fitting bezels that have ruffles and gaps at the top that
have to be burnished to afair thee well in order to have a nice
smooth finish. However, once in a great while, even though the stone
fit perfectly when I made it, I find after it is soldered on, it is
a smidgen too tight for me to get the stone in. In those rare cases
I unsolder the bezel, clean up the area of all solder and make a new

But, I have had to resort to filing when there are multiple stones
in the piece such as the cuff bracelet I was working on when I sent
out my plea for a source of diamond coated files. It was 2 inches in
width, and had fivecabochons, four of which were already set, and
they all fit perfectly. Then to my dismay, the fifth stone was a wee
bit too tight. Obviously, I could not do any soldering to remove the
tight bezel at this point in the construction of the piece, so I
resorted to using the file.

As this was a parrot wing chrysocolla cabochon that I had cut and
polishedmyself I saw no harm in doing some minor filing just at the
very bottom ofthe stone. Even though the filed area would be hidden
by the bezel I did give it a final polish, so that it looked
perfect. As I said, I take great pride in my work, and want things
to be as perfect as this mere human can make them.

So, now you have the saga of the diamond filed cab. I was sorry to
hear that Hans had such a dreadful thing happen to him, and
understand why he reacted the way he did. I greatly respect and
honor him and am sorry my request for a source of files brought up
the memory of the of the dreadful woman who falsely accused him of
ruining her tanzanite. Alma

I’ve seen lots of hating on the idea of trimming a stone to fit. As I
see it people like myself that do this from time to time “trim” a
Cab not a faceted stone. I don’t even like faceted stones. I my
versions I’m working with softer stones. Turquoise, Lapis, and the
list runs on.

I do mostly Southwestern style of jewelry. I’m sure many of you
artist’s might consider that junky. I’m fine with that. You won’t
buy mine and I won’t buy yours. Our idea of beauty is different.
That’s why old juke boxes had so many numbers.

On trimming I use it to make things fit perfect on my Mosaic Cobble
inlay. I also do a lot of bezels that have vertical lines in them.
Even if I’m using a pre made bezel like the shark toothed stuff. The
lines in bezel have to match perfect. Period. you can cut a section
in half and it NOT look crappy. I do my own lapidary work. When I
cut a cab I do it to take advantage of what I see in stone. If I
decide a bezel with lines it will work the best for what I see in my
head. if I need to trim a hair off the edges of my cab to the
results I want I won’t hesitate for a second.

I my not be a bench jeweler like many of you call yourself. In fact
I call myself a Silversmith in the tradition of the style I like to
make. Some of you guys seem very harsh when all you can say is I /
we need to learn our skills better. And that what we do is crappy
and cheap work.

My nose is starting to bleed so I’ll hop off my soap box,

Erin Mason

Seems to me that in the instance of unsetting a stone to repair a
piece, Hans and Erich have made a strong case for performing the
stone removal before witnesses, and to have the process filmed in
clear and extreme close-up. That way it will be obvious that the flaw
was there before the removal process and everyone will be covered. Of
course, the witness(es) should be totally impartial and not be in the
employ of the firm doing the removal, because that could cause claims
of collusion, but a video would work pretty well, I think. This
proofing process should be explained to the client before the work is
accepted for repair. The video would be stored for a number of years
(say 15-20) clearly labelled with the date, client’s name, the
craftsman who removed the stone, and any witnesses who were present.
Perhaps also with a signed statement from the client recognising that
the filming will be done and stored in such a way.


Hi Erin et al

I my not be a bench jeweler like many of you call yourself. In fact
I call myself a Silversmith in the tradition of the style I like to
make. Some of you guys seem very harsh when all you can say is I /
we need to learn our skills better. And that what we do is crappy
and cheap work.

So now the insults start. What fun!

You may call yourself a silversmith. So you must be able to make
hollow ware and flat ware. And so have an intimate knowledge of
working with silver and how to use mandrels, stakes and hammers. And
know how silver flows in waves. Silversmiths do a lot more than make
jewellery. Making jewellery in silver does not make you a

So it is harsh to say “up skill” really. South western jewellery,
that is the stuff that backs cabs with originally lead and then saw
dust etc to make the stone look larger than it really is. And NOT
tell the customer!

To fit a stone into a bezel is simple you measure carefully and use
mandrels and hammers on the bezel and the stone fits.

So get back to the bench and practise till you can get your bezels
the right size and stop being rude to people with greater skills than
yours and who wish to pass on their knowledge and skills FOR FREE.

You might actually learn something.
all the best

Thankyou Richard. I’ll get back to bench and practice. Sorry if I
came off as insulting, wasn’t my aim.

Richard, I am surprised that you dismiss southwestern jewelry as the
"stuff that backs cabs with lead and sawdust." Obviously, you are
not familiar with the long tradition of the excellent native American
jewelry much of which consists carefully cut stones inlaid with great
care and precision intothe silver and sometimes into gold.

The pieces I have seen and handled are beautifully made, great works
of art, mosaic style, sometimes set with Australian opal—yes
Australian, of the finest quality, and then set in gold.

Currently, there is an exhibition of the work of Native Americans
being held in New York at the National Museum of the American
Indian. This work is superb.

As you are not anywhere near NY. to check it the display of
Southwestern jewelry for yourself, I recommend that you try to get a
copy of "Glitering W, and is one of the Smithsonian Books.

Please, let us not get into some unpleasant insulting exchanges,
which merely hurt people. Let us use Orchid for its intended
purpose, which is to help one another.

Your comments have always been so very helpful, and I for one, have
always appreciated your contributions. Let us be kind to one another.

Best wishes, Alma

I’ve seen lots of hating on the idea of trimming a stone to fit.

I don’t know that I’d call it hate Erin, looks more like love to me.
After all, if people hated you or what you are trying to accomplish,
they wouldn’t give a hoot about helping you become a better
craftsman. Disagreement and/or constructive criticism don’t
necessarily equate to hate, although too often as of late they are
viewed as exactly that, sadly.

Why is it that if we don’t say that everything everybody makes or
does qualifies as a beautiful work of art, and if we don’t agree that
every level of craftsmanship is just as valid and acceptable as any
other, we are seen as being mean and hateful?

Would you accept that attitude from your car mechanic? Or your

Is there no value anymore in striving for perfection, even though
it’s not truly achievable? You sure won’t get anywhere near
perfection if you aren’t willing to at least try to achieve it. A
goldsmith I knew in the 80’s used to say "Good enough rarely is."
Words to live by, if you ask me.

As to the number of songs on a juke box, remember that for every
band that had a top ten song on a forty-five A side, there were
probably a thousand garage bands that never even got good enough to
play the high school prom. The pursuit of excellence does matter,
even considering the broad tastes of the entire human race.

To be honest, the thought of using a diamond file to make a stone
(any stone) fit in a too-small bezel or setting has never occurred to
me. I guess I never thought of it as any kind of problem to stretch
or cut the bezel a little to fit the stone properly instead of going
about it the other way 'round. On the other hand, a girdle stretcher
that could make those stones I just over-cut the seats for a tiny bit
bigger would be a mighty handy little tool to have around.

Dave Phelps

Well said, Alma. Let’s be good to one another. Ganoksin is such a
wonderful environment for us all to share, teach and grow. So many
place that are not. let’s shake hands and move on to positive input
for all.

David. I have a dandy little girdle stretcher to use when I have
madea bezel a bit too tight. I call it my “Mini Rolling mill.” I have
some steel rods (I think they are stainless), in various diameters,
and insert one in the bezel, and then roll it on my steel bench
block. I give it a rollor two, check to see if it fits. If not, I
roll it a bit more. Works likea charm. Don’t know where I learned
this as I have been doing it for ages, but I am grateful to who ever
taught it to me.


I have a flat-top cab that I have been wanting to bezel set, but the
sides are straight rather than having a small inward slant. This
whole conversation inspired me to create the slant with a diamond
disk on my flex-shaft. Worked perfectly, great looking but not high
value stone will be set and the filed area covered. I don’t feel at
all guilty, and thanks for the idea.


RE: Alma’s comment about steel rods…transfer punches work
beautifully for this and many other tasks in the jewelry studio. And
yeah, ya can get 'em at, dare I say it, Harbor Freight!

and elsewhere

Linda Kaye-Moses