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

Agreed, friend. I would love to have insight from someone on this community who is use to CAD/CAM designs and setting. My caster will polish for me as well. The master jeweler who I spoke to who owns a large commercial store in the diamond district NYC, told me it is pretty simple, I have bought more than a few genuine pieces from him where we have that type of conversation.

Just trying to get into this hobby and I feel like the CAD/CAM would be my best approach.

I did not know how the loose diamonds could be different sizes in the same sizing parcel - thank you for informing me of this. What insight do you have regarding my initial question, for someone not looking to sell just for a hobby, how intense will this be?

I already have the loose diamonds and am waiting on the casting to finish polishing.

Do you think I will have to drill out some? Carve anything?

@ringdoctor…thanks for your comment. I thought as much, but, having no direct experience, I thought someone with such should reply. The last time the subject of 3D printing came up I did some research, including looking at some research papers presented at SNAG which had 10X or so blowups of various castings. The paper was from a few years ago. The resins used at that time gave either rough or semi-rough surfaced castings. I understand since that time some resins have been developed which use some wax in their composition, and these may produce smoother castings…again, a question for someone with more direct experience with these. It seems that a wax carved by CNC via CAD instructions would be smoother than these 3D printed ones, and I don’t really understand why 3D printing has replaced this kind of machine based wax carving. Cheaper??? Evidently what you are seeing, ringdoctor, is castings made from resins which just don’t produce great smooth surfaces.

@Andrath…I think if you look at ringdoctor’‘s post, you have your answer already. If your melee is sized via diamond sieves, it passes, say, a 2mm sieve and doesn’t pass a 1.9mm sieve, so your stones are between these two diameters. As ringdoctor noted, this doesn’t make their crown height, pavilion depth or girdle thickness the same, unless the sorter has actually sorted these visually. If he has lots of goods and lots of time, he can get you pretty close to identical, but I don’t think you are going to find anyone willing to take this kind of time with your order. Hence my thought that you are going to need at least two or three burs of each type for each diameter stone you are using and you are going to have to develop some skill at boring the holes so that the stones sit level and all at the same height. The term " pave’ " refers to paving stones like those in the street, and these are supposed to be all at the same height so that you don’t trip going down the street…at least in modern times, that is. The illustration of the Cuban ring you sent looked quite nicely even in its setting.

Let’s not belabor this issue further…your expert is telling you this is a piece of cake and I’m sounding a more cautionary note. It’s your call what to do…if you go forward directly with this, why not just shoot some pictures of your finished ring and post them here. If it’s as simple as you contend, I have some crow in the freezer that I can defrost and warm up for dinner…LOL…-royjohn

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Lol thank you for such a detailed response. I think my friend here in the diamond district forgot how much stuff that is simple to him being a master jeweler isn’t as simple to a beginner such as myself. I’m starting to think I will have to grab some burrs as well for each size.

I will definitely make an update post that is detail oriented on how I purchased each stone, how I got the ring casted and polished, and how the setting process works for me.

Thank you so much for your insight!

HI Andrath…you wrote:[quote=“Andanth, post:24, topic:61749”]
I think my friend here in the diamond district forgot how much stuff that is simple to him being a master jeweler isn’t as simple to a beginner such as myself.
That’s what I thought when I read your posts…I have a friend in the business who’s been making his own equipment and casting and setting stones for about 30 years or more…he’s very helpful, but sometimes he seems to think some things he describes are easy, whereas I know they are not going to be easy for me.

I’ve learned a lot on my own that many other people seem to have required a tutor or a school for, so far be it from me to discourage another independent minded person. I do think you’ll find when you get a ring and some diamonds in 1-3mm sizes that these things are rather tiny and not that easy to work with. I finally ended up being able to purchase a complete set of setting burs, beading tools, and gravers, etc., from a jeweler’s estate for cheap and also got a bench boomstand stereo microscope as well as an engravers ball. Had the various files, flexshaft, pliers, etc. already. Now I’m about ready to start tackling more advanced stone setting. Slowly, that is. Even if you catch a good break, the equipment I’ve mentioned, which makes stone setting so-o-o-o much easier will run you $350+ for the scope, $65 for the engraver’s ball (the cheap one), another $150 for the flexshaft and handpieces, and $100 for a few burs or $250-$500 if you luck onto a set of burs and gravers. So it just ain’t a cheap proposition, and it isn’t like you can do the job with much less. You could do without the microscope, but the 'scope makes everything so much clearer. You can’t do without the burs and I would doubt that you can just use preformed beads without using gravers. Just take a look at some of the videos on youtube which show bead setting before you go any further…I think you will find your “little project” takes weeks or months to accomplish and lots of equipment purchases. I’ve said more than enough on this topic…if you perservere in this, you may find a very enjoyable hobby! good luck! -royjohn

I think I will!

Thank you so much will PM you when finished.

Its interesting see what everyone has written on this topic. I will agree Ringdoctor in that most cad designers have never actually sat a bench let alone set stones. I have seen many design over the years that are very pretty when looked at. Then take a closer look and I start to pity the guy that is going to set the stones or even cleanup the casting.
I have been a bench Jeweller for 25 years and have been doing CAD for the last 6 years. I’m not perfect with CAD work but I know enough of what I’m doing. On projects that I make on CAD I always cut the seat for the stones with an extra 5% on the girdle size. This works perfect for me when it comes time to set the stones. I do a quick bur of the seat to clean it up and make sure the angles match the stone and the set it. less hassle and I know the stone will be perfectly straight. I made a pair of earrings last summer that had pave set stones. Most of the stones were close enough in size that I just used the same size in the model. After the casting and pre polish was completed I came in with the same size bur (a size smaller then the stone) and made sure the seat was cleaned out then set the stones. some of the stones were a little smaller. This is something that is going to happen. Unless you order stones perfectly calibrated to be exact same size which doesn’t always work anyways. There is going to be some variance with the size stones. One could be 2mm exact and the next could be 1.9mm. If the model is made correctly in the first place, the claws over lap the stones slightly and are made the right size for the job, then there shouldn’t be any problems with a quick rebur of the seat and set the stones. Some of the claws may take a little more effort to tighten up the stones but it will work.
Just always keep in mind, you may have to fit each stone as you set. If you have one stone that is a little fatter but the same diameter you may have to adjust the seat so it sits down a little further so the tables are all level. One stone at a time. From what you have said, you have the stones to match what the CAD designer told you. There should not be to much problems in setting.


Hey there! I thought I might be of some help here.
I have been both a bench jeweler and a CAD designer and rapid prototype machined operator.
One company I worked with for about a decade did almost exclusively CAD-based pieces (after having done both hand forged and cast pieces for a few decades before I joined the company). We did almost exclusively Platinum and gold with diamonds. My main job was building, printing, and cleaning up the rapid-prototyped pieces, but sometimes jumping to the bench to do direct metalwork.
In our files, we would design certain pieces (especially custom) to fit each size stone, pavilion depth, girdle, and all. For all types of setting: bezel, prong, and what we called ‘fake pave’.
A few things I learned that might help:

  1. You will definitely need to clean out the holes and seats. You will never get perfect holes/surfaces from printed items. There is layering that happens in the printing process as well as slight surfaces inconsistencies that happen through casting. Read: you will probably need all the burs everyone is mentioning even having the holes pre-designed in the file.
  2. Sometimes pieces break in the printing/cleaning/spruing process (prongs and ‘fake’ beading especially), so you will need some basic skills and tools to get a proper piece to be cast.
  3. With the ‘fake pave’ style, you will not get the hardened, super bright classic look because you are not working the metal, but it can be pretty.
  4. You still need some understanding and beading tools to complete the process. Even with this pre-designed pave’ style, we always had our master setter set these pieces.
    I really like the idea someone here had of casting a few in cheaper metals to get the feel!
    Hope this helps!

Ok, I feel I need to jump in on this one… As a hobbyist of 6 years, in jewellery making, who owns his own 3d printers and 5 axis cnc machine, and I do a large portion of my designs in CAD and I have a whole bunch of burs and I made my own graver and I shape and sharpen my own cutters. I can say without a doubt that I wouldn’t touch that design with a 10 foot pole at my skill level. Do not count on the CAD variations to accommodate for all the tolerance variations each diamond will add to the setting process.

I have tried pave setting and I have read several of gerrylewy18’s articles. A job like that is not for the faint of heart. Pave setters are in a class of their own. I watch videos weekly on how to do it because someday I want to be able to do it… really badly! But just the other day I was setting a single flush mount and screwed that up! I measured the diamond and then my burr and and my burr did not go in exactly straight which meant the diamond would not sit nice and flush and then I chased the rabbit down the rabbit hole trying to fix my screw up. Needles to say, I finally got everything nice and seated but ended up having to use a larger diamond. Now I am contemplating taking the diamond out and starting that piece all over again.

All I can say is if you attempt this at a hobbyist skill set, Have a dozen blanks of the same ring at hand because you are going to need them.

You are braver than I to attempt that.

From one hobbyist to another!

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Hi Richard,
You were franker than I was, but I agree…your small typo: “Needles to say” had me laughing…yes, it would be like needles, needless to say! I think I mentioned this before, but I’ll repeat it again…the traditional way of learning this was evidently to start out doing it on a copper plate. I would say anneal the copper and, in this day and age, get some calibrated CZ and go at it. When you can pave’ set level on the copper plate, then maybe do the same again on a curved copper plate made up to the curve of a ring…once you can do that, I would guess you are good to go on a piece of jewelry…come to think of it, maybe I will try that soon myself. A nice challenge. I seem to recall that sets of setting graves are sold which include a copper plate to practice on…so that is the recommended way to go at it. You can also go down to Franklin, TN to the New Approach School and they will teach you this (weeklong class), but they require that you take a setting class first and then go home and practice for a while before registering for the bead setting class…that tells you something, no? I don’t think they want you to pay your $1,000+ tuition and get to Franklin only to find out you have jumped into the deep end and can’t swim…-royjohn

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