I recently took on a modernizing project for a very old fashioned ruby & diamond ring my aunt inherited. She didn’t think it was worth a lot but I had it appraised, turns out it’s worth quite a lot & the rubies are untreated and quite good, so I am taking some time getting my skills up to where I feel ready to do them justice. Most of the stones are 2.7-3.8, so I learned how to flush set with other stones, 3-4mm. This has been going fine & it’s been nice to have a new line of things on my market table.
My problem is the smaller stones. I ordered some 1.25 - 1.5 mm and am having a hard time. I can get them so they are stable and level in the hole, but moving the silver to hold them in is proving very difficult. Do I need different tools? I have a hammer handpiece but because they’re so small I’m a bit nervous about using it, I can hardly see what I’m doing. All the videos online about flush setting are typically for 3mm stones, which aren’t that difficult. If I can’t use them I can probably sell them to a local professional jeweler & my aunt won’t mind, there are still 12 good sized stones to play with. But I’d rather master this, especially since I bought some pink & blue sapphires & emeralds and would love to be able to use them up. Thanks, Sue
(what is the metal you are using?)
for stones that size you can try just burnishing the metal edge down with a small burnisher…
ie: the burnisher is held at an angle, and you move around the edge of the hole in a sort of forward rubbing motion, compressing that corner edge down…
this first one looks simikar to the one i have:
i am not sure what the tip diameters are on these, but they look thinner than mine…&
Thank you. Yes, I might just need a smaller burnisher than the one I use for the larger stones. I’m using sterling for the little ones at the moment, though I use a lot of fine silver and that’s probably easier. Many thanks for the links
The stones need to be snug in the holes before you try to tighten them down or you will never get them tight.
you can try making a slim burnisher using a broken bur bit and a pin vise…just be sure to polish tip to a nice mirror finish, after grinding to the tip size/ rounded shape you desire…
and, to make the fit tight as poodle pup mentions, you can also make a similar tool with a more flattened end (no sharp edges) and not mirror polished, to use to push down and pack the stone into place…i often use the flat side of the end of my tweezers to push down and pack the stone…
I just had another thought…ones does not need alot of metal to capture the stone…if it is over the stone girdle, decreasing the hole size, then it will hold the stone…actually even just 3-4 points of contact will hold the stone…not that that is your goal…
try practicing setting the stone less deep, so there is less metal thickness to burnish down…it should just rub over like butter…if it is too hard to rub over then you are trying to move too much metal with the tool being used…
or…also try increasing your burnisher angle…you are aiming to rub over that corner edge/ rim of the hole…
Thank you, I’ll try all that and keep at it.
I have one other thought about setting very small stones, pave, etc. I got a small ball vise and a stereo microscope on a boom stand for my bench, mostly because I saw a video of a jewelry atelier in Belgium (I think) where all the setters used ball vises and microscopes. I’d also note that at Blaine Lewis’ New Approach school in Franklin, TN all the benches are equipped with microscopes. While not all setters use one of these, I can say that the level of detail you can see and work with is vastly improved with it. There is a thread on here to which I contributed about scopes. While a new Leica with the “Acrobat Versa-Stand” weighs in at about $3100, a used scope and conventional boomstand could probably be had for $500-700. Just another thing to think about if you plan to do a lot of pave, etc., with small stones in particular.