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Hard gold? here's the answer

Hello, my Orchid friends!

If you want to know why sometimes your setter is bawking at your
’hard as steel gold’…here is the ‘exact’ answer. This type of gold
crossed my bench only two days ago…I had some 111 diamonds to set in
the “shared bead” style of setting. Well, of those who don’t know
what this means…its when ONE bead is holding down two diamonds.
Normally this type of setting can be rather easy to proceed in the
regular style of setting…but for some reason, I had some difficulty
to actually ‘move’ any bead into position.

I pushed, kvetched and muttered all kinds of expletive-deleted types
of Sub-English words, in trying to get simple bead over into holding
just one diamond. No bead was going my way…’ they all had minds of
their own’, so to speak…Bright-Cutting was just also a definite and
arduous chore…All of my tools and gravers were 100% sharp. cleaned
and ever so exacting in the modification.

I figured if I’m going to succeed in keeping this new account, I
must email him of the continuing problems which were causing me much
distress…(a.k.a. communication with explanation)…Well it
worked, I returned his work I ventured to telephone him this
afternoon…He said “Gerry, your setting work is very good, I’m
sending you MORE !”…So I asked him maybe his gold needed softening
AFTER the soldering is done…He applogized in saying his ‘rings were
bought assembled’ and maybe the jeweller didn’t anneal any of them
afterwards."

Now my dear friends, here lies the answer to my
difficulties…always anneal your gold, prior to setting…especially
on WHITE GOLD…yellow gold has no need for this simple process. I
went through every past experience to figure out what was going
on…then it occured to me…now he knows just what to do prior to my
setting process. Did you all learn from this???..

Gerry!

Hi Gerry and others;

always anneal your gold, prior to setting...especially on WHITE
GOLD 

You are right, it is ideal if you can anneal white gold.
Unfortunately, if it is a casting, very little annealing can occur.
I’ve had white gold, castings and fabricated from stock, including
Stuller’s new (and despicable) X-1 alloy, that contain so much nickel
that they are impossible to bright cut. The metal is just too stiff,
no matter what you do. I love bright cutting in the palladium white
gold alloys, but when you get 17% and upwards nickel content, you
just can’t push a bead. In fact, I’ve actually hammered a beading
tool on the stuff and, looking with a loupe, saw that all I had
succeeded in doing was rounding the corners off a bit and spoiling a
beading tool. If you can’t tighten a bead onto a stone, that stone is
likely to fall out. I tell my accounts, if you really insist on using
high nickel white gold, I will have to charge a misery factor and I
won’t guarantee stones against falling out.

David L. Huffman

I've actually hammered a beading tool on the stuff and, looking
with a loupe, saw that all I had succeeded in doing was rounding
the corners off a bit and spoiling a beading tool. If you can't
tighten a bead onto a stone, that stone is likely to fall out. 

I hate setting in hard white gold alloys in a big way myself.
However, I will separate my beads from the plate and do some of the
close in brightcutting before I try to set a stone. I also try to
avoid pushing a bead against the stone with a beading tool. I will
use something like a #52 round graver to tighten the stone. Using a
beading tool always tends to squish the bead when I do it. I just
use the beading tool to burnish the sharp bur of a prong round.

Hard as white gold is, it often cut with a mirror finish. unlike the
platinoids. Seems that no matter how bright I polish my gravers,
There is always a dullness.

Bruce D. Holmgrain
JA Certified Master Benchjeweler

Bruce Holmgrain, et all!

What I do is to “rough-cut” 90% of my bead-setting jobs…the final
touch is move over the ‘beads’ with a rounded bottomed Onglette #2
graver…but I have about 5-6 different widths to use if necessary.
This way all of the beads are almost like psuedo-claws at this
pint… I never push over the bead with a bead-burnisher, only the
bead-raiser!!! “Bright-Cutting” is also done prior to the actual
stone setting process. Either White or Yellow gold is not a problem
using this “Rough-Bright-Cutting” process…I will seperate all beads
from the surrounding metal…I have written extensive essays and
notes on just how this is accomplished…this is even an ‘art’ in
itself. DO YOU WANT A FREE COPY, or anyone?

All cutting is done prior to the final stone placement, no flash of
metal near the girdles. no graver touching, or breaking of the graver
points while touching the girdle…beads are not even damaged!!..This
process is great on both white and yellow metals. Another point, if
the graver IS HIGHLY POLISHED, this ‘brightness’ will be then easily
transferred directly to any metal. With an Onglette #2 'right-sided’
shaped graver, all of my cuts are ONLY now on one side…no need
anymore for a Flat graver or either #39 or a #40

gerry!

Hi Bruce;

Hard as white gold is, it often cut with a mirror finish. unlike
the platinoids. Seems that no matter how bright I polish my
gravers, There is always a dullness. 

That’s good advice on freeing up the beads. On most bright cut,
french line, etc., I use a round graver, don’t remember the number,
probably something like a 52. I push in the metal onto the stone
after its seated, then cut everything away, then use the beading tool
to round up the bead. It’s the last thing I do. But I’m changing my
technique. I’m switching to doing all the cut work before putting in
the stone, which is what I always did with classical pave but not the
other stuff. I’ll take your advice, lean the bead in with the round
graver. As for the problem getting a bright cut on platinoids, that
would be platinum, palladium and it’s alloys too, have you tried
using a carbide graver? You need diamond to polish the stuff, but
it’s less porous than steel and so it doesn’t drag on the platinum.
If you mirror polish it, that’s what you get on your cuts. Just can’t
get near a stone with it because it chips easily. Our friend Gerry
does all the cut work with onglettes, one with relief to the left,
one with relief to the right. I’ve always used a flat graver that
tapers up in the cross section. I can send you a diagram on that if
you want.

By the way, I want to acknowlege your comment on the Master Jeweler
thread about the importance of being able to quickly produce work
(relatively quickly, that is). I’m sure a lot of us could pull off
magnificent masterpieces if we had months and months to work on them.
You’ve got to be able to make money at this work. I consider that an
accomplishment that contributes to being considered a master, as long
as the work is done well.

David L. Huffman

As for the problem getting a bright cut on platinoids, that would
be platinum, palladium and it's alloys too, have you tried using a
carbide graver? You need diamond to polish the stuff, but it's less
porous than steel and so it doesn't drag on the platinum. 

That drag has been cited as making platinum unsuitble for lathe
turning. I haven’t tried turning it myself, but I’ll try a carbide
graver for brightcuts…

If you mirror polish it, that's what you get on your cuts. Just
can't get near a stone with it because it chips easily. Our friend
Gerry does all the cut work with onglettes, one with relief to the
left, one with relief to the right. 

I was taught to use half points, left and right.

I've always used a flat graver that tapers up in the cross section.
I can send you a diagram on that if you want. 

My experience in using flat gravers was that it was very difficult
to feather in cuts. A curved cutting edge seems non intuitive, but
has served me better. Kind of like using a split lap. The curved side
is much better to produce the illusion of flat.

I'm sure a lot of us could pull off magnificent masterpieces if we
had months and months to work on them. 

I burned up a lot of $3 earrings that required several hours to
repair when I started on the bench. I learned then, that given enough
time, I could produce just about anything.

Bruce D. Holmgrain
JA Certified Master Benchjeweler