Flush setting stones

Hello folks at the Orchid digest list. I am writing as a new
goldsmith – one year in training, and even though new I have been
getting jobs to make rings for people. My mouth exceeds my skill
level in some areas and I got a job making a 24k gold ring with a
fine silver triangle on it and 6 - 3 mm stones in rainbow colors
as well as a 4mm ruby that all need to be flush set. I finally got
the ruby set, with some difficulty and am looking for some easier
ways to do this for the 6 little stones.

Does anyone out there know of good sources. Frei & Borel has a $150
video, but … that is out of my student price range.

This is a wonderful idea to have this Orchid listing and I plan on
using it often!


I know that I am late on this thread, but I did another article in
the Bench magazine just on this topic…“Are you flushed out with
Flush setting?”… sorry for the delay in reading all of these

“Gerry, the Cyber-Setter !”
North America, toll free:1-877-850-0003
Member of: SNAG, MJSA, J/A, CJA, FSG
Contributing writer to the following:
WWW. JDWTN.COM & “BENCH” magazine

I am getting ready to carve some waxes for some rings in which I
plan to set some fairly large, 10X14MM, and 12X16MM emerald cut
citrines… I was told that emerald cut stones cannot be flush set,
and that they have to be set in a basket setting, or with prongs…

I would prefer to have the stones set low in the ring. Where can I
find as to the best procedure for setting emerald cut
stones in rings that are going to be cast. I will appreciate any help
you can give me.


ANY stone can be flush set – Those are some big suckers, though, and
being citrine, that’s quite an undertaking…

Hi Alma;

I was told that emerald cut stones cannot be flush set 

Somebody told you wrong, then. Emerald cuts aren’t the easiest to
bezel or flush set, but I’ve done it countless times. Carving for a
flush set is a real challenge, if you haven’t done it before. This is
because you need such a very precise seat, since only the smallest
amount of metal will be moved laterally over the edge of the stone.
But, there’s a little trick you can do. Are you ready for this? It’s
going to take some heavy visualization.

First, consider making a design where you carve a seat for the stone
to sit in with the girdle just about even with the surface, and then
solder on a bezel of a soft metal like fine silver or 18 karat (no
18K white though, unless it’s palladium white, in fact, if you’re
doing it in white gold, why not use a pure palladium bezel?) An
inverted cone bur is great for making seats for emerald cuts.

But if you really want to do a flush set, here’s how.

First, call Rio Grande and order a can of “Seat Check”. It’s a spray
on powder that you apply in the seat you carve, press the stone down
into it, and it reveals, by changing color, where the stone is making
contact so you can clear out those areas.

Now to the carving.

Once you get the shape of wax you want, and you have the area you
are going to flush set into, use a tiny drop of super glue and glue
down the stone, upside down. Now carefully trace around it with a
needle. If the stone isn’t cut badly, it will have the same shape
upside down or rightside up. Hog out the seat with a round bur, then
go in and shape the cavity for the stone using inverted cone burs.
Now start using the seat check. You want the stone to sit evenly with
the girdle just about 1 millimeter below the surface. Less depth for
smaller stones. Once you are confident the stone fits, a smooth fit,
not requiring pressure but not rattling around, you’ll go to the next

Using a touch up wax like “perfect purple” or that new wax Kate Wolf
came up with (sorry Kate, can’t think of it off hand, pipe in if you
see this), build up a tiny ridge all the way around the stone. In
your case, I’d build it up about half a millimeter high and about
half a millimeter wide, like a tiny bezel around the stone. You’ll be
dabbing on wax, then using carving tools and burs to shape it, maybe
going back and adding wax, taking it off, etc.

When you’ve cast the piece, get out your Seat Check again and using
burs, inverted cones, round, whatever, clean the casting skin from
the seat and make sure the stone drops down in. Get the ring or
whatever article firmly mounted where you can hammer on it, either
jammed up on a ring mandrel (be careful of the culet!), or on your
GRS inside ring clamp, or using Jett Set or shellac and a vise,
whatever you’re accustomed to. Before you start to hammer that tiny
bezel down around the stone, take a small round bur and just under
the top of the bezel, inside, where the girdle of the stone will be,
cut a slight notch all the way around. This is so that when the
metal starts to move in around the stone, it doesn’t bind in on the
girdle before the top edge of the bezel comes down on the stone. Now
smear a little soft wax like disclosing wax, or bees wax mixed with
Vaseline, and gently warm the article till the wax runs in around the
stone and let that solidify. Wipe off the excess. Start hammering
with a chasing tool and hammer. Use enough magnification that you can
actually see the metal as it contacts the stone. You’ll see the wax
squeeze out around the stone. This makes it hard to tell what’s
happening, so go ahead in other areas. When wax is oozing out all
around the stone, steam it off. Now the stone will probably be
rattling in the setting, but you can continue to tighten down the
ridge. You’ll hear the pitch of the ringing of the tool on the metal
change as the metal makes contact with the stone, and that’s the time
to stop driving it down in that area.

Now to cleanup. Assuming you’re satisfied the stone is tight, you’ll
want to get a flat graver polished to a mirror finish, razor sharp.
Dull the leading corners very slightly against your sharpening stone.
Now you can go around the inside edge of the setting and create a
clean edge. Keep your sight right down on what you’re doing, it’s
easy to scratch a citrine, even with a graver that’s been given
dulled corners. Keep thumbs together for control. The last thing is
to dress down the surface, using sanding sticks or disks, but be very
careful not to hit that stone. You can cover the stone with masking
tape, but you still need to stay away from it with any steel tool or
abrasive. A flat lap charged with tripoli will finish the job, and
you won’t damage the stone as long as you down bear down on it and
your lap isn’t contaminated with anything gritty.

Well, best of luck, keep us posted.

David L. Huffman

Technically you can flush-set pretty much any shape of stone, but
the more sides the stone has, the more complicated and picky the
setting is (getting it to sit level, protecting all 8 corners from
chipping, etc.). It also becomes more difficult and risky with stones
larger than, say, 4mm diameter or so. The other thing to consider is
that with a larger stone, the culet will end up hanging out the
underside of the piece, so you would need to design a ring to have
the stone sit relatively high off the finger anyway. If you are going
to set the stones yourself, it will benefit you greatly to do some
practice pieces with CZs the same shape as your stones to get the
hang of it. If you’re sending the setting out to a full-time setter,
go and ask their advice. The easier you can make life for your
stonesetter (even if it’s you), the lower the expense and aggravation
for everybody.

You might also think about using a heavy bezel-style setting in a
cast ring - you can get close to the look of flush-setting with the
stone at the same height it would be if it really were flush-set, and
it is way easier.

Best of luck!
Laurel Cavanaugh

Hi, Alma,

I was told that emerald cut stones cannot be flush set, and that
they have to be set in a basket setting, or with prongs.. 

You can, in theory, flush-set anything… if you have the skill to
do it. It is necessary to carve a seat for the stone using gravers
and burs, and it is very challenging to do. It would be much easier,
and possibly satisfactory for you, to set the stones in low
step-bezels (tube settings), cutting out space in the ring inside
the bezel so that the pavilion sits mostly below the surface. But if
you haven’t done this kind of setting before, it will be pretty
tough to do without help.

If you can get ahold of Blaine Lewis’ setting videos, they may
help-- or better yet, go to the New Approach School and take
Advanced Setting!


Hi David,

First, call Rio Grande and order a can of "Seat Check". It's a
spray on powder that you apply in the seat you carve, press the
stone down into it, and it reveals, by changing color, where the
stone is making contact so you can clear out those areas. 

I went to the Rio Grande website but I found no seat check powder. Is
it maybe a new product? That is something I could really, really
use. I use carbon paper or baby powder and its a bit of a mission
Thanks for your excellent post on setting flush setting.

Hans Meevis

I just read a most excellent description of this project by David
Huffman - I would add one thing, though, and that is Mother’s Little
Helper, otherwise known around here as Opal Tightening Agent, known
to most as 5 minute Epoxy. Before you cringe in horror, let’s lay
out a scenario: You have a $35,000 black opal, set in a bezel. Or a
$150,000 emerald (I have) You set the stone, it’s gorgeous, and you
put it to your ear and touch it, and it goes “click, click click”,
just a tiny bit. Now, you could bear down on that $35,000 eggshell
to get the tiniest little tap out, split it in half, force your
children to skip college and all, or you can run a bead of epoxy
around the seam, wipe it off with acetone, and it will not rattle,
and it won’t come back in a month because it loosened up in wear,
either. Flush setting a large citrine is a candidate, also - getting
that last, tiny perfect tightness is 50/50 for a chipped stone, which
means not just a new stone, but a new ring. Understand that I’m not
talking about “Glueing in stones” - I’m talking about risk-evasion
for something that is 99% perfect - it’s that last bit that squeezes
pressure points and stuff.

Hi David,

How very very kind of you to send me such detailed n
flush setting stones. I particularly like the idea of soldering on
the bezel. After reading all the posts, I have decided to do a lot
of practicing on cast silver, before I attempt working with the gold,
and will use some inexpensive, square, and oblong cut stones–first
using the bezel method you described, and then when I master geting
the seats right, I will move on to flush settings.

When I feel comfortable, and really get to understanding the process,
I will switch to gold—using l8K bezels, and then finally will move
on to making a flush setting.

Thanks again to all who have so generously offered suggestions.


Thanks to Laurel, Rebecca and all the others for their advice about
flush setting of emerald cut stones. I have ordered the recommended
books, and will give serious consideration to the different options,
and pitfalls enherent in flush setting such large stones. I am
really looking forward to the challenges posed by this endeavor. Gets
me thinking creatively, as I had fallen into a bit of a rut doing the
same tried and true things over and over.


But if you really want to do a flush set, here's how.

Thanks, David, I love your instructions. It makes me want to rush
right into the studio and try it. You have some tricks Blaine Lewis
didn’t mention!


I am coming into this discussion late, so I do not know who
originally asked the question.

Flush setting fancy shape gemstones is one of the most difficult
setting jobs and should be reserved for someone with experience in
all forms of stone setting.

For someone that would like to accomplish the look of flush setting
a fancy shape gemstone without the pitfalls that are common with this
type of job they might consider doing a reverse setting or back set
method. A back set gemstone is done by carving out the opening in the
model to accommodate the stone and placing the gemstone into the ring
from underneath. The crown edge and girdle sit into a seat and then
just below the girdle would be tab shaped prongs that are pushed up
to the gemstone to hold it in place.

I would not use this type of setting for a high end custom job but
it might be appropriate for a job that has a price conscience client.

Greg DeMark

Hello John;

I would add one thing, though, and that is Mother's Little Helper,
otherwise known around here as Opal Tightening Agent, known to most
as 5 minute Epoxy 

I won’t disagree with you there. As long as the stone isn’t going to
come out of the mounting, and it’s not so loose that it rolls around
like a marble in a bathtub, I’d say it’s preferable to forgo being a
purist in favor of avoiding bankruptcy. I tend to be a bit of a
masochist and rely on just the metal. Perhaps I get a cheap thrill
from getting away with something (and I’ve sometimes regretted it).

David L. Huffman

Hello Hans;

I went to the Rio Grande website but I found no seat check powder. 

Truthfully, I hadn’t checked my latest Rio Catalog to see if they
still carry it, I just assumed they did. Perhaps if you gave them a
call, or if they read this, we’ll get some It comes in a
spray can, and it sprays on to form a layer of light green colored
powder. When something is pressed against the powder, the powder
turns a dark, glossy green, as it compresses. I’ll take a look in the
catalog, if I find it, I’ll post a stock number.

David L. Huffman

Thanks, David, I love your instructions. It makes me want to rush
right into the studio and try it. You have some tricks Blaine
Lewis didn't mention! 

How and where do I find those instructions ???

Best regards,
Thor Hedderich

Dear all on Orchid

For those who wish to read my article about “Gypsy Setting” a.k.a.
Flush Setting you may find it in the “Bench” magazine. This article
appears in www.bwsimon.com archives from the issue of FALL 2002,
Volume 2, Issue # 2, page 21…Now you have all of the details,
enjoy! enjoy!..Gerry Lewy!

Hi All;

I’d promised to post the stock number of that product Rio Grande
carries called “seat check”. This is the spray on powder used to
check the fit of a stone in a setting.

in their tools catalog: stock number 113-965 ($19.95)

David L. Huffman


Seat check disclosure powder. Page 258 of latest Rio catalogue. Item
113-965. Thanks for all the info given in this thread, I am really
learning from it.

Ruth in the UK