Hobbist - How can I set these loose diamonds I have into this 3D design?

Hello to all, new member to this forum!

I am into all types of gems and stones and would like to try to make a diamond ring. I found a simple Cuban ring design Cuban ring here and bought the loose diamonds of that size VS from a local jeweler in the diamond district. Found another shop I have used previously that will cast in 925 silver and 14k gold ( going to do both for practice ). How difficult will this be for someone familiar with other gems and stones? I’m hoping if a good cast of the mold it will be more so place and adjust claws but will I need to make any additional space? Will it be as simple as placing and adjusting prongs? Would it be easier to use a heating method to set?

Thank you all and look forward to learning a lot from this forum!


Hello and Welcome, Andanth,
My advice is, don’t. Not now, anyway. IDK what your actual experience with “gems and stones” is, but what you’ve chosen is the most difficult form of setting, bead pave’ setting. Several sizes of stones, too, which means more tools. You are not using prongs, but instead forming settings (holes) in which the diamonds fit with burs and “raising” beads with gravers, then shaping them with beading tools. Assuming you have a flex shaft, you would need several sizes of bud burrs and setting burs, because even your diamonds of one size will not be all the exact same size. So you might need setting burs of 1.9mm, 2.0mm, 2.1mm, etc., and then another set for your 1mm stones, etc. You will need some knife or round gravers to raise the beads, and some sandpaper for sharpening the gravers and polishing their faces. Then you’ll need several sizes of beading tools to shape the beads once they are raised. You can find youtube videos of the process and lots of articles on how to do it, esp. those by our own Gerry Lewy. However, most folks start learning stone setting on bezels and prongs and work up to bead setting after a good while…maybe a year or two…or a three to six month course. If you can’t be persuaded to wait on this, I would suggest doing a lot of reading and watching to get the process straight in your mind and then purchasing the needed tools and some copper plate. Proceed to set at least five or ten stones close together similar to the pattern on your contemplated ring and see if you can do all this well before starting out on the rings. The problem with starting on the rings is that if you do make some of the holes for the stones too big, it is going to be rather difficult to fill them (with solder???) and start over. A couple of screw-ups and you will be starting all over with a new casting.
If I were you I would hold the diamonds in reserve and start out learning to set with simple prong settings. Less tooling to buy immediately and a little longer to learn how to do this and then if you like it, you can move along. If you do decided to start with bead setting, buy some small CZs to practice with…Good Luck! -royjohn

1 Like

…The problem with starting on the rings is that if you do make some of the holes for the stones too big, it is going to be rather difficult to fill them (with solder???) and start over. A couple of screw-ups and you will be starting all over…

It isn’t just cutting a seat too wide for the stone. For the tables to be at a uniform height every seat has to be cut to the proper depth as well. One seat cut too deeply can ruin the whole job.

It is worth trying using affordable material, to see if one has the skill and temperament for this kind of work. There is only one way to know.

Neil A

1 Like

Thank you for the welcome and insight. I was under the impression the setting holes were made via the cad and would be somewhat usable when casted maybe needing a bur to make some more space? I will watch the videos for sure thank you

HI again, Andanth,
Yes, in some castings there will be a rough hole, but the caster has no way of knowing the exact sizes of the stones you will use, so the holes should be on the small side and allow for you to make a hole that is the exact right size for the stone you intend to set in each exact hole. One melee stone may have a higher or lower crown or slightly smaller or larger diameter, so you may have to “fudge” a little to get everything looking even and well-spaced and the stones all at the same height. You may have to “move” a hole slightly left or right, too. I do have some silver castings which were made to channel set round melee and they do have “marker” holes where each stone should go and supposedly these are in the exact right placements, but I would not count on this…you might have to move a stone left or right in the channel. So, yes, there probably will be holes where the stones should go (why cast extra metal that’s going to be removed?), but the holes are rough and will require, even if they are in the exact right spot, the use of a setting bur to smooth out the surface of the hole before setting. I think it will become a lot clearer if you read about it and watch the videos. Maybe someone else who actually does a lot of this kind of work will chime in here…-royjohn

Thank you. I tried searching extensively for videos centered around setting with casts where the gems sizes and all were already accounted for in the 3d print/mold so the cast should be roughly the same as well so the setting in theory shouldn’t be too bad. I couldn’t find literally any videos on youtube or google regarding diamond setting in pre-made designs using 3d design software. I spoke to a local master jeweler who owns a shop I’ve bought genuine pieces from before and he looked at the ring design and said it should be a simple place and adjust prongs, maybe bur to make a little more space but not much.

Just trying to learn to do some work on the side for myself as it’s extremely satisfying to me.

Thank you so much

How many burs do I have in my inventory? Good grief, I’ve lost count after reaching 2-3,000 burs. I use round, bud-shaped, 156c (or under-cutting). I keep many more put aside just in case I need one that may be slightly worn down!
Did I not mention the fantastic and very expensive HSS burs? These “High Speed Steel” burs that are used in setting Bezel, Gypsy & Channel setting, 4 & 6 claw (prong) engagement rings.
I can have as many as 7-8 burs of different shapes & sizes in setting just one Princess-cut, Gypsy setting ring!
Then comes along the Bright-Cutting process of the inside of 4, “Vee” shaped claws. This singular process is using also Onglette gravers, of #2 width.
This strange-shaped looking graver is using a finely cut graver to cut only on one side of this blade!
Many times I can have 12 gravers with various lengths & widths in that same numbers in handles!
I’m presently teaching a class with the “92Y”, in New York city. My 5 mature students are learning, all of this via webcam, all online!
If anyone want to spend some time with me. I could put a class together just email me at my address “gerrylewy18(at)gmail.com
Who said Diamond Setting can be learned in a few days?..:wink:
This profession has taken me only 9 YEARS followed with an additional 51 more. What is retirement?..:wink:
BTW, I have a “Guinness World Record” and all of this because I put some of my training to good use! See what you can do with your Diamond Setting skill?

Thanks “RoyJohn” for mentioning my name!
Go to my blog as this is a library of no charge to everyone, anywhere!
Gerry, on my “insanely busy” iPhone!

I was under the impression the setting holes were made via the cad and would be somewhat usable when casted maybe needing a bur to make some more space?

If you are going to use CAD and have pieces 3D printed for casting in metal, why not have a number of 3D pieces printed, get some CZs, a few burs, a pin vise, and try it out by hand in the 3D wax? It will be easier than working in metal and you will see how it works, what issues may arise.

It should be fun to try and you will find out if your CAD design needs a little adjustment.

Neil A

Dear, wonderful Gerry,
You said, <<Thanks “RoyJohn” for mentioning my name!>>, but
how could I possibly not mention your name??? We’re not talking
about stamping out buttons here, you know, or plating copper jewelry,
but the high art of pave setting! So there’s one name in particular to
mention…and it’s not mine…LOL -royjohn

Of all of the techniques in setting diamonds. On my “Difficulty Scale out of 10”, Pave’ and or Bead-Setting is rated at a 50, (or more)… why is this?
We must decide on which graver to use, how thick must that graver be. How to carefully shape the blade without burning it on your bench-grinder!
How to prepare your graver blade just for ‘raising beads’! Next, is how to then to create your beads over the girdle of that diamond.
With your Onglette graver, you must now create a line in metal. With that line, we must use a Onglette #2 Bright-Cut that line you just made and make that metal-cut line shine like the Hubble telescope!
The spaces in between the two stones a little pattern is then created.
I’ve written essays, just on the topics of metal cutting. Is this a mind-boggling exercise? “Insanity at the bench” starts right there and very few of us still manage to achieve this high skill level!
I’d still rate this at a “60, out of 10” as there so many ways of ruining the setting.
That is why “CAD” has risen so fast as to short-cut the need of “Bead-Raising”. Very few setters today learn this very difficult skill. But once it’s learned, it has very beautiful results.
The hand-graver-cutting can produce fantastic designs that no machine can ever produce

“Gerry, on my insanely busy, iPhone”

I am learning from a master jeweler in the diamond district who has a shop that uses similar concepts - using 3d designs to cast and then set to be efficient in labor costs.

He assured me that the designs account for the sizing of each stone and the premade holes should work for plug and adjust. How do you feel on his words like this? Should this be an easy job since the design and holes are already made custom for each sized stone ( the design software has different setting holes for each size stone by mm)

If you’re in a city with a jewelry district and many stone dealers, like NYC or Amsterdam or Tel Aviv, then you should send the piece to a diamond dealer after it is cast and cleaned and the dealer will choose stones that fit the settings. This way you can do your CAD drawings, casting, cleaning, and rough preparation of prongs or beads before you buy stones. This is the most efficient way to go about it if you haven’t the capital to keep a large inventory of melée yourself.
If you bought calibrated stones then you can do much of the preparation in CAD as well.
But bead setting is not the technique with which to start learning to set.

As a general rule center, or featured, stones need to be purchased before making the settings, because the seats need to be sized to them. Melée should be purchased after the piece is prepared, because it is easy for a stone dealer to find sizes to fit the seats.

Hi Elliot,
I’m familiar with the traditional techniques described in books, but not exactly what you’re describing. Let me ask a few questions to see if I understand. So you’re saying that the cast item will have seats and beads already preformed? And you send the piece to a jeweler and he picks out melee that fits? Since you don’t mention someone numbering the stones or some such, I assume you mean that all the seats are exactly the same, all the beads ready to be pushed onto the stones and shaped are the same, and all the melee are the same (machine cut??).

So if you do it this way, do you have to cut a seat at all with a stone setting bur, or is the seat as prepared in the casting just a “drop the stone in” proposition? Just drop the stones in any old seat, as they are all uniform, and then push over the beads and shape them? Seats are all the same size in the casting and smooth enough to drop the stones in, and stones are all the same size, so no fitting to be done?

Do I have all this right?

I’m surprised no one on this forum is familiar with the jewelry autocad programs. In the programs when you insert your setting holes you choose which size hole to use which is based of the mm size of the loose diamond. So my ring has many different sized stones as you can see in the link I provided but the holes are seperate sizes to account for this. The master jeweler I am learning from in the diamond district has a big urban store and he says most stores with urban designs use these.

Check my last response please

Please check last response as well hope I am not confused

Melée is sized by sieving, so even hand cut stones can be picked which are all within a few tenths of a mm dia. You don’t send the piece to a jeweler, you send it to the diamond dealer.
I don’t work in CAD so can’t speak to how much cleaning needs to be done after casting and before pushing the beads.
If you have a more complex piece with stones of different sizes the dealer can stick them down on layout wax while picking, so you know which stones fit where.

I understand the loose diamonds can be picked within a reasonable accurate sizing - I said in the initial post how I already bought them with the sizes given by the designer of the CAD. It seems you are not familiar with this but I feel as though I explained everything pretty thoroughly regarding the stone sizing and stone setting sizes already made.

Hi Andrath,
Yes, I’m aware about CAD, Rhino, etc. These programs are not any more precise than a really good wax worker, but perhaps more precise than most commercial waxes. There isn’t anything that would prevent someone from getting an old style wax and tweaking it so that all the holes were as uniform as possible, as you are suggesting happens with CAD. One problem you haven’t addressed is that castings are not polished as they come from the caster, nor does the caster polish all the holes into which your stones are to fit. This is why I’m a bit confused. If it’s now just a matter of getting the stones from a dealer and fitting them into the holes as cast and pushing the beads over, then I’m overestimating the level of complexity. I’d like to hear that from someone who does this regularly. As far as familiarity with CAD programs, I’m sure you would find many people on this list who are use these programs regularly. They just haven’t chosen to weigh in on this question…-royjohn

Sorry, I seldom jump into these threads, but this strikes home.
I think that I just might be starting to dislike “cad cam jewelers”.
Every week or two one of my customer, jewelry stores sends me a cad cam casting to finish and set.
I am beginning to realize that very, very few cad cam " designers" have ever actually made and or set jewelry items.
Cad cam “castings” i am encountering are almost never as clean and smooth as carvings created by a skilled wax carving. The labor to make a quality, finished piece of jewelry from these pieces is far more intense than from a good wax carving, and too many of these castings require extensive work by a skilled jeweler to make anything remotely presentable, in my opinion.
Gemstones, including diamonds, come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and cuts.
One 3mm gem can be an entirely different size than another, in the same parcel. Throw in style of cut, girdle thickness, cullet depth and shape, and setting a “sorted parcel” can often require a great deal of craft, experience and crestivity, to create Pave that looks remotely right.
When cad cam and bench skills work together, wonders can be achieved, but a great deal of what I see today has been whipped off on a computer, with no concept, thought, or understanding of the underlying craft that creates quality jewelry.

1 Like