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[Favorite tips] Bead Setting

Use a heart bur or knife-edge bur to “rough out” bright cutting, then
clean up and polish with a graver. This will save time doing the
bright cut and time spent sharpening gravers. Do the cutting with
the bur before you set the diamond, or be very careful around the
diamond edge. Brad Simon CMBJ

I won’t say Brad is incorrect, but, as a setter I do find that his
way sometimes works,

I repeat SOMETIMES! But what would he do when there is needed
"curves" in the metal design or at the “corners of squares”.Let alone
allowing to do intricate pre-cutting in very ornate filigree, the
"heart shaped"-156C burrs do and will get used up fast if they 'hit’
the diamond edge by accident. I, for one, would prefer the graver
anytime, then to use the 156C heart-shaped burr idea.

With a “burr” for pre-cutting, you might cut off a “necessary and the
much needed beads”, as on a burr there are two ‘faces’ where the
teeth are. On a graver, you have full control, you can direct the
graver to go just anywhere that its needed. Totally!

So in closing, “both of us are right”. My fellow Orchidians, you now
have two possible options to use. Use them both, and you should decide
which idea serves you better…:>)

gerry, the cyber-setter

Dear Brad, For the most part I have found your “tips” to be helpful
and hope you will continue but I think your off base when you suggest
that one should rough out the cut work in bead or pave work with a
bur. I have tried just about everything one could, to reduce the time
nessesary to do a good job with bead work but this never gave me
results that were helpful. I would need to spend as much time cleaning
up the results of the bur work as I would had I proceeded with
gradule cuts with the right graver. The same holds true for precutting
.There are some areas of “fine” stone setting that will “take what it
takes” to have results that my customers would accept.I see this kind
of work all the time and its in these areas that poor overseas
manufacturing has been able to take a bite of our market.I would
suggest that if your having a hard time with cut work on possibly the
harder metels that you consider a power graver system to aid in the
production time area.I use one of these and when working with the
harder metels I find it to be a great help,but burs for cut work just
dont “cut it”.It doesent help to speed up production if quality is
sacrificed and in my opinion the results with this tip would be
inferior.Gravers for cut work and saw blades for good aaazures spend
some time to develop proficiency with these tools and not only will
ones quality improve greatly but speed will happen naturally without

three cheers for Rita!!! clap! clap!clap! 156C burr to "rough-cut"
no way! Fortunately Rita has what it takes to be a good setter. I,
for one, would never suggest to anyone on ANY OPEN CHANNEL to use this
so called labour saving method. If any of my community college
students suggest and try this method, I wold give then a ‘failing
mark’ out right! I’ve spent too many years apprenticing and to learn
the “correct” way and the Correct way is to use the #1 or #2 onglette
graver! if anyone can’t stand the ‘heat’ get out of the kitchen,eh?
you have to learn and learn the proper way to set diamonds, If I had
to revert to this method, I just wouldn’t have any high-end clients
coming to me for top quality bright-cutting. If anyone disagrees with
me @Gerald I have learned to use the graver at such a speed,
its an extension of my finger-tips ! I use the ‘right-sided’ graver
and the #39 & #40 flat, but would never think of entertaining using
the “156C burr” on a regular basis. Brad, you are showing many
different techniques in the jewellery trade, well done, but this
technique is not warranted ! Remember, a lot of professional
craftspeople are reading this “Orchid” also. Whats more, a lot of
new-comers are looking up to ‘us’ for correct and serious help!
…So a little knuckle-tapping is needed once in a while,eh? gerry,
the cyber-setter setter for ONLY 42+
years! p.s. I may be doing future seminars on diamond setting, its
because I AM A SETTER!

Thanks for all the bench tips Brad. Its nice to know someone else
thinks along the same lines. I have used this burr technique when I
first started doing pave. Since I am self taught and I had to find
ways that worked on my own this was a solution that I used at one
time… I have since converted over to just gravers as I learned the
tricks and mastered the fine points of graver control. I got a few
tips from a friend of mine that was trained in Switzerland. He sets
nothing but pave and does Rolex watches and watch faces and the like.
Very precise and demanding work. Although I would not at this point
recommend the use of burrs as clean up for pave work, although I have
used the technique in the past, I do applaud your recent and abundant
posting of bench tips and say “keep them coming”. This is after all
an open forum and different techniques and different opinions from the
norm are what keep it interesting. Frank Goss

Hello, all. I had a project recently where it was necessary to bead
set a curved row of diamonds into a concave surface. A graver proved
to be ineffective due to its length and the angles involved. My
solution was to use a small hart bur to make the cuts. Sometimes you
just do what you have to do. I definitely second Frank’s “keep 'em
coming” comment. It’s all Thanks to Brad for his tips.
With regard to Revere’s marketing class, I took it some years ago and
found it to be excellent. He takes the “hope and mystery” out of it
all, and presents the in a clear, usable form. I felt
like I could really go out there and do it (I’m now working for
someone else, but that’s a story best left to another forum).

BK in AK

When bead setting, I first pre-cut the bright cut using burs.
Generally, I use a hart bur, but have also used knife-edge, and wheel
burs. I then set the stones. I then polish the bright cut with a
polished flat graver. Usually all that is needed is to use the
graver as a burnisher by pulling backwards rather than pushing,
although sometimes a light skimming of the metal is needed. I use this
method for two reasons.

  1. It is faster for me to use this method than using gravers.

  2. and most importantly, I receive better results than using gravers.


With a steady hand and a little practice, curves are easy to cut, and
corners are a breeze with hart burs (it is just like cutting a corner
in a princes or baguette seat).

I do not believe there are correct or incorrect methods – there are
only correct and incorrect results. If a method does not create the
correct results for you then it is wrong for you. However, that does
not make it wrong for everyone else.

If you are satisfied with using a graver, FANTASTIC. Don’t change a
thing. If however, you are experiencing problems with your
bright-cutting then I offer my method for you to consider and
practice using to see if it works for you. There are as many ways to
perform this craft of ours as there are jewelers doing the work. I
offer my tips in Trade Secrets of the Day as a way to share what
works for me. Not that it is the only way or the best way to perform
the work, it is however the best way for me to do the work. I place
these tips on open internet channels because that where I think they
belong - in the open for all to learn from. For too long jewelers
have kept their ‘secrets’ to themselves and not shared with others.
I am so thankful for forums like Orchid for us all to learn from each

P.S. Gerry, if I were teaching at a school, I would only teach using
gravers also. A foundation using hand tools is a necessary starting
place. Power tool can be learned later.

Brad Simon