Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Diamonds set in steel

Hi all. Could anyone give me a clue about how are diamonds set in
steel? Are the steel pieces (whatch cases mainly I think) machined
beforehand, is the steel annealed, are impact gravers used? If it is
done by hand, it must be quite tough. I would like to know. However,
I hope not to recieve an order like that -I have more than enough
with nickel an italian alloys.

M�laga, Spain

With a powered graver, about anything you can do in gold for stone
setting you can do in steel. The steel will definitely need to be
annealed if you are going to move it around like gold, although, there
is a way to set stones in full hardened toolsteel. My father set
diamonds in the blades of the gold and diamond knives we made
together. He first bezel set the diamond in a 18k tube, drilled a
hole in the hardened steel with a carbide drill and pushed the tube
with the diamond into the friction fit hole. Here is a link to one of
the pieces:

The diamonds in the 18k handle were also bezel set in tubes first and
then pushed into holes. There is a picture on this page that shows
the back side of a handle and you can see the tubes in the holes.

For power gravers there are 4 types I know of. Ngraver makes the
magnagraver, GRS makes the gravermax, there is a Swiss made Badeco
impact tool, and I just went through the patent process with pneumatic
impact tool I have been using called the Air Chasing Graver.

Steve Lindsay
Hand Engraving
Air Chasing Graver

Diamonds can be set quite easily in steel using the GraverMax by GRS.
Stainless steel watch cases can be quite hard and extremely difficult
to engrave with hand pushed gravers, so this is where the GraverMax
really shines. It’s a pneumatic handpiece capable of extreme power and
controlability far beyond hand gravers. As an example, beads can be
raised with a beading tool instead of a round graver, etc. It’s
faster, you’ll experience far less slips and broken stones, and will
be able to set stones in nearly every metal you encounter. It’s a
stone setter’s dream machine, not to mention the world’s best tool for
hand engraving.

As for gravers, make absolutely sure you’re using high speed steel
when engraving watch cases. If your gravers are not stamped with H.S.
somewhere on them, they are not high speed steel and will not hold up
to the hard steels used in most watch cases. I’d also recommend using
high speed steel burs for drilling stone seats, etc.

If you’d like to see an example of hand engraving on stainless steel
with the GraverMax, check out this photo: That is extremely hard
300-series stainless steel which is deeply relief engraved and has
plenty of highly detailed graver work. You can tell by the photo that
the plate is very small, a bit larger than your thumbnail. While this
is not an example of diamond setting, it is an example of both heavy
and delicate engraving on an extremely hard steel using the GraverMax.
If this can be done, then stones can be set as well. :slight_smile:

To see more examples of hand engraving on stainless steel, please
visit my site at

For more on the GraverMax, visit


Sam Alfano
Exhibition Grade Hand Engraving


Diamonds can be set into steel in about the same way they would be
set into white gold. The steel should be annealed, though in most
cases where this is done that I’ve seen, the steel used is not a tool
steel, and not hardened anyway. Frankly, steel is easier to set into
that a lot of the nickel based white golds I’ve had to use over the
years. It engraves well too. Yes, it takes more force than with
yellow golds or platinum. But it cuts well enough. You can use the
same tools as you’d use in precious metals. While power driven
gravers, like a gravermax or fordom power graver might make it
easier, you don’t need it. Try it. You’ll be surprised at how easily
ordinary mild steel, or annealed tool steels, can be engraved. And
they are less brittle to work than many white golds too. Stainless
steels can be a good deal tougher and harder to work, but they still
can be done without too much problem.

Peter Rowe