"Fish-Tail:" Ornamental Design (version 0.1.3) Diamond Setting Pendant

This 91st essay has taken me almost 3 long months of wax preparation and then in casting. The “Bright-Cutting” on the numerous patterns and now the long essay writing.

This essay will be now be divided into two (separate) essay versions. It is a culmination of long hours at the bench, taking well over 725 photographs then editing and deleting many of them. This is an interesting essay and many jewellery friends I know only have their Computer Aided Design program to rely upon, but very few of them actually know all

of the intricate setting techniques. This is version # 1.3 and the second essay will be # 1.8.

I believe that these two essays will educate many of them in understanding just how this design can be fraught with so many problems. The second essay was written in 2005 in the “Bench” magazine. I think that once these two essays are finished, there won’t be any problems in replicating the cutting and designing.

The first essay explores on how to hold a graver, how long it should be, how to resharpen each graver and along with the measurements of these specialized blades. From a wax form to the finished pattern is well worth the long read of 28 pages and 58 photographs, Hoping that you find inspiration in making this pattern yourselves.

Basically, have fun and look forward to a new pattern in your inventory of Diamond Setting ideas.

"Fish-Tail Setting" (this is version 0.1.3)

(Version 0.1.8 will be fully explained in another essay).

This design has a "Difficulty Scale of 9+ out of 10 ", why is this so ‘difficult’?

This pattern has many opportunities in not succeeding, honestly, this style of setting is not for the absolute beginner! I suggest at least practicing in using a graver for 3-4 years. In Toronto, there might be only 2-3 setters who are well enough skilled in this particular " Fish-Tail " style of Graver cutting.

When I first started to learn to use a graver , my teacher and instructor didn’t want me to attempt this pattern until “I had at least 5 years under my proverbial ‘graver-using’ belt!”.

This exercise/essay covers different angles of the steel blade. Then comes which graver width to use when and why?

How to modify the Onglette #2 and of course which width of a Flat graver to use , where and then finally how to use that specific graver to create this most fascinating (and difficult) pattern.

Let’s change the " 9+ " to now number ’ 25’ out of 10 . Once you learn and understand how to master this interesting pattern, everything will come into place. ARE YOU READY TO LEARN?

Where can this pattern be used? It can be used anywhere you want to apply it in your “CAD” a.k.a. ‘Computer Aided Designing’ program. If you hadn’t the idea on how to put this pattern into your CAD you, or your Programmer would be at a loss.
It never hurts to have this kind of knowledge.

( I’m going to write this essay as if I’m actually talking to you!! I’m going to be using the " First and Second person" and not the common “Third person” method . I too, must feel comfortable in this method of teaching and explaining.)

What tools are needed for creating this great pattern & design?
Onglette #0 (rough-cutting graver)
*Onglette #1 (used to create new ^^ ^ beads). This is my roughly drawn sketch of how the greatly modified Onglette graver now must look with its new measurements. The thinner blade is so much better in creating the necessary and important beads.

Bead-Burnisher: These are used to ‘round & secure the beads to the stone’ after setting!


These are my extended selection of graves and accessories in completing this demonstration.

The length of the graver blades is not an issue with me, why? They are all placed in to an adjustable graver handle. If one graver is not suitable, out it comes and another is put into its place.

BTW, some of these gravers are really years old!..:>)


These tools are tools that are really needed in this exercise. I like colour coordinated handles for easier identification while my eyes are concentrating on my setting project. I further keep my inner desk clean of any unwanted clutter a.k.a. this can be so distracting me while I’m working!!..:>(


The Onglette graver is so important as it MUST be made very thin in its cutting ‘width’. The width of the blade is very important as this is a very critical issue as it has to cut in between the two new beads!
Bead-Burnisher: This is used extensively in burnishing the new beads AFTER setting of the stones.


This is one of my four ‘adjustable’ graver handles that are used continually.


This is the correct graver to hand to palm location. The graver MUST NEVER extend further than the first joint of your middle finger! I still use this method even today!!!


Always use your “thumb-guard” the underneath of your graver can & will cut into your thumb-pad . It is there where dirt and other dangerous infections can lead to disastrous effects. I know this first hand…YUK!!! (Just don’t ask me how)


From a simple wax-form, look at what we will turn this into. This will be literally transformed into "Piece of Wearable Art!" All it takes will be ‘some’ detailed Onglette graver reshaping and Bright-Cutting!

I like to keep the ‘sprue’ attached, as this gives the silver pattern more ‘gripping power’ while in and on the wooden “Flake Shellac” stick that I use. I must be so comfortable at all times while my hands are holding the stick.


From this simple wax injection, I’m going to transform this into something fantastic…this is for you to learn and observe the many steps.


I’m going to show you graver-shaping aka ‘carving’ this metal pattern. Many different modifications will be shown and now starting to take place.


Lets now just start with the very basic ‘rough-cutting’ in using your ultra-thin Onglette #1 graver. This graver blade should have a width of only 0.25 mm’s.

The original blade comes from your tool supplier at 1.05 mm’s. The reshaped blade must be thin as possible to create beads that aren’t there in the first place. You are now doing much of the fine cutting ‘adjustments & modifications’ yourselves!!!

Let me ask you just one thing, can your new & untouched 1.25mm wide Onglette graver make these fine cuts?..:>(


Here is the finished result of all of the carving, interesting isn’t it?


I really prefer the ‘two-bead’ design, why so? It appears to be so very clean in its overall appearance.


The very first cutting with your Onglette #1 will be used as a ‘guide’ for further cutting . This is only the very first step in this unique transformation, from a boring piece of metal into a very pleasing item to view!


I (sometimes) use a felt pen and mark where the next cuts must be . I suggest you do this for the first few pieces that you need to practice with.


As I am ‘right-handed’, I start from the right side and then cut towards the left! So far this is quite easy, agree? Watch where the graver is cutting. I must have the graver cut right into the edge of the hole. The reason for this will be shown so very soon!


Now the very first line of cutting has been quite effective as this is the only very first cut!!!


I start the “Bead-Shaping” from the first line and aim for the hole. This way you are now having a " little triangular shaped pattern ".


Please do not use any file to carve out any patterns, why is this?
The filing will leave a very rough-texture and the striations are nearly impossible to remove in such little spaces permitting. Even if you use your pumice wheel, the end results are just overall ‘poor to mediocre’.


In this exercise, I use my very thin-faced Flat graver to shape every area that is needed. If the graver needs to be resharpened, please do so now on your oil-stone.

Every cut needs to be clean and not having any striations caused by any graver that is continually getting worn!!!


It is permissible to Bright-cut the inside curve, if you wish to cut afterwards, the decision is yours to make!


I’m now using my #006 Bud-shaped bur to carve and separate each “Fish-Tail” area. Your Flat graver will finish this inside pattern.


With the same #006 Bud shaped bur split the metal as this will give you the required “Fish-Tail” effect. Please cut right through the metal by cutting through makes each “Tail” look like one ‘tail’.


I suggest being aggressive in the separation at this point, as much depends on your cutting!


In the following photographs, you can see some castings that came from poor wax injections. BTW, I didn’t use these metal forms, but I wanted to show them to you, as a ‘demo & teaching lesson’.


Here you can see that graver didn’t cut near any of the setting holes & this again is not acceptable!


Just what happened here? Another disgusting metal casting, and this also wasn’t used…:>( The many holes were out of place. Repairing them would be too time wasting and not be cost efficient!


Oh no! Another area that made this metal casting an irretrievable item to save…back to the “recycling & refining” bucket.


This one item just wasn’t ready to be used. It’s easier to melt it, than to save it . I always make extra castings in case one or two don’t make the proverbial grade for my setting ‘demo’ pieces.


In the following photographs I’m now going to start making the beads and as well start the “Bright-Cutting” stage in the final finishing!


Before a stone is set, I need to make sure that there are isn’t any slivers of metal around the hole prior to setting any stone. I’m using a #006 Bud-Shaped bur just for this purpose.


Don’t get too obsessed if you don’t have enough room for two new beads . One very strong bead will be really good!

The 'granulation" on the metal is because I put my silver pattern into a "Magnetic-Tumbler"
just to shine it up…whoops & a bad move!


I’m now attempting to Bright-Cut the metal…(again) The Bud-burring can be done later, if you wish!


Just for this section where the two sides meet, I’m aiming that the Flat graver meet at the center of the two curves.


This flange of metal was produced by just one long cut. The result is a great looking and very clean cut. If your graver hasn’t this effect… STOP and resharpen your Flat graver face…NOW!


Start now to shape the Fish-Tail sections, you will have only one chance to make a clean cut!


You are actually constructing a very interesting feature on this “Piece of Art”.


I’d be using only my favourite “156C” under-cutting bur to make a bearing-step for each stone to sit against. How small of a bur would you use? I’ll select a bur of only 75% of the size of the stone!!!

To secure the stones after being set, you must & should use your Bead-Burnisher that will envelope the whole Bead. There mustn’t be any ‘rim or cup’ around any of them, why? It will look poorly finished!!!


When you are using your Bud-bur, I really suggest to ‘open’ the Pavilion further inside the area where the stone will be now sitting.


This picture shows a nice & clean swath of cutting created by your Flat #40 graver. You can see that all of the new Beads are in a straight line,


I need to have every area of the metal bright & shiny at all areas. I’m trying to leave the metal free of “Rouge & Tripoly” polishing afterwards.


This picture shows how the effects of a very sharp ‘graver face’ as its cutting through the metal!


Every spot on the metal must be totally clean and no flat surfaces anywhere!!!


There are no areas left untouched by any graver cutting. I want a “Vision of Excellence” in every cut that’s been now made! This is where practicing using your graver comes into fashion.
It is here at this point, that your bud-bur will be needed to further separate the two sides of the Fish-Tail pattern. You can see how this wasn’t fully accomplished.


Here is just another view that shows that there are no longer any ‘untouched’ areas. Always check your graver Flat Face at every moment. There must not be any ‘scoring’ on the metal, if this appears…“STOP IMMEDIATELY” and use you oil-stone to resharpen your Flat #40 graver!!!


With using your “156C” under-cutting bur up against the two beads, please make a seat for your stone to rest. I aim just the edge of the teeth while the bur is now rotating at a (slower than normal) speed.



This exercise is a testament to your new skill in using “Onglette & Flat” gravers. I suggest to try this pattern as often as you can. Each time you will feel more confident in the applications of your cutting.

Lastly, you can transfer much of your new skill in cutting to the aspects on Diamond Setting.
Just one more thing…have fun and if your pattern isn’t great, just scrap it and make another casting. I still do many times!!!..:>(

You can observe the reflection of the beads against the shiny “Bright-Cutting” surface.


The face of the Flat graver against the #006 Bud bur shows how thin it must be when executing the many fine Bright-Cuts!


This the exact 45-degree angle of your graver resting on your oil-stone while being sharpened (…again & again!)


I always use a #800, or even a #1,200 grit Polishing paper to restore the cutting area of the Flat graver. I use both grit papers, just in case one paper doesn’t give me just what is required. I prefer paper polishing every time I use my oil-stone for full and repetitive resharpening.


The best method of making your polishing paper more smooth, is to rub your '2B graphite’ soft-lead pencil into the fine pores of this specially bought, polishing paper. This paper is only used for graver maintenance!!!


Extra notes on this project!

Here you can see how the beads look after two have been ‘burnished’. If I see that there is too much metal remaining inside of the heart-shape, I’ll just Bright-Cut it away with additional lines.

I’m using my #006 bud-bur to remove any remaining ‘burs of metal’ that might be remaining after you use your first graver cutting. It’s best to do this cleaning …NOW!


I like and prefer to use my Onglette #1 graver to start the ‘separation’ and create the first cut to make the overall “Fish-Tail” pattern. I’ll just dig a very deep cut at this point, avoid any use of a Triangular file. The graver point of your Onglette #1 will make an exact cut that is now required.


This whole process can take me about 1.5 hours of total elapsed time. This is not time even spent setting the stones! I am extremely critical even of my own setting practices.


BTW, I don’t use any powerful magnification apparatuses while setting or Bright-Cutting this demo! (BTW, my eyes are now rated as better than 20/20. Although I use my Optivisor lens of #5)


But you just gotta practice & practice! Thanks for reading this essay and fondest regards to everyone!..:>)

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