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Diamond setting tools

Hello all,

I am getting back to the bench after a hiatus and am very interested
in pursuing bead setting and pave, the kind of work one finds in
Edwardian and Art Deco designs, which are my favorites. I have the
GRS Benchmate system and am thinking of getting a block, either the
GRS mini or the standard.

I am also looking at the air-driven graver systems.

So, since I am a small person with relatively little hand strength
compared to a man, is this a reasonable avenue on which to embark?
Does the idea of an air-driven system make sense or is bead setting
something that is more easily accomplished through annealing the
setting prior to setting, and proper sharpening of course? I have
tried previously to use the gravers but slipped a lot and got
discouraged. Marring the metal is obviously not a good idea and
certainly no fun to have to repair.

I ordered a dvd by Gerry Lewy on bead setting which should arrive in
a few days which should answer some of these and other questions I
have but I thought to ask the group for tips since I am eager to get

Thanks in advance,

Hi Nel, I do quite a lot of bead, pave’ and shared prong setting of
small melee in my work. I have, and love, an Airgraver from Steve

I personally like it better than the GRS air powered graver products
simply because I think it’s a more elegantly made tool. That said,
they all perform the same tasks which is to help move your graver
along, with less effort, using air actuated gizmo’s. I’m sad to
report, that I seldom use the Airgraver when doing any form of bead
setting, but use it primarily for hand engraving, like when adding
vintage hand engraved detail to all sides of a ring. When I’m bead
setting in one way or another I almost always use push gravers
because I don’t need the extra help the air powered tool gives me.
If you are doing bead or pave’ setting, typically you aren’t
removing tons of metal with your gravers. The stones are being set
fairly close together, most of the metal is being removed by the
ball, bud, cone or setting bur that you are using to cut the seats.
All that is left to cut is the small amount of metal between the
seats and the bright cut edge. I always do most of my bright cutting
before I set the stones, and that cutting is almost always a tiny
repeating pattern of diamond or triangular shapes. I like to do it
that way because I tend to cut much deeper without the stones in the

You don’t need much strength to make each of those little bright
cuts. That is really the key, to break the job down to the smallest
components of the pattern and focus on each of those. If you think
about the whole, it seems like too much, like it’s to difficult, but
each little part is relatively easy. After the stones are set I then
bright cut the outer edge as the pattern dictates, now for that you
might like an air powered tool for but I always push. One thing I
would recommend, if you can swing it, is a bench microscope. If it
looks good under the scope it will look perfect to the naked eye. I
really love the GRS micro-ball and shelf in combination with the
scope, that allows you to slide your work into the scopes field of
view easily. Also, nice sets of beading and millgrain tools.

Hope that helps a little bit. Mark

Nel, I would also add a microscope and stand to my list of tools if
you plan on doing any quantity of bead or pave work. Enhanced vision
can add a lot to understanding what is going on with the metal and
how the bead is formed and the stone tightened, as well as tool
control. As for strength, while an air graver is easier it is not
necessary. It is not the strength but the angle of pressure and the
sharpness of the engraving tool that you use to raise a bead.
Pressure on the stone is minimal or else you will end up chipping
stones, especially the delicate ones such as emerald and tanzanite.
The GRS benchmate is a great tool and they have a new inside locking
ring holder that I am very impressed with. A bench block is also a
great addition to any setters tool collection, but not absolutely
necessary. You can get excellent results with the bench mate and the
accessories that go with it. I only just recently bought a used
graver meister and after 35 years of settings stones I have yet to
use it for that. I have been using it for engraving work, but I am
sure it will come in handy on my next bead or pave job. I would also
suggest a power hone from GRS for sharpening your gravers if you are
serious about doing a lot of setting work, especially if you are
setting in white gold. Also I prefer the carbide gravers as they
take a higher polish and I get a much longer life each time I
sharpen. Hope I have helped to answer some of you questions about
tools that you need. To put them in order of priority.

a precise mm guage ( I prefer a leverage guage) something that
measures .1 mm accurately for measuring burrs and stones a good
selection of ball burrs for cutting seats engraving tools, preferably
carbide a good (i stess good) set of beading tools and a beading
block to keep them sharp a good (again I stess this word) millgrain
tool for decorative edges Bench mate, (inside ring holder and shellac
pad included) microscope and stand (a optivisor and 10 power loop
will work but it will be a lot slower and not as precise) Power hone
(especially for the carbide gravers as well as speed, ease and
quality of sharpness and polish on all of your gravers) power graver

This is my list and the order of priority, I am sure other people
will have their list and their order of priority. Happy setting,
Frank Goss