How to prong set?

Hi everyone,

I just bought some fine silver prong settings from PMC Connection to
use with PMC. I made my piece, fired it and placed my stone in the
setting for a dry run, but since I’ve never tried to prong set
before, I’m having problems.

The prongs themselves were really long, so I filed them down and now
they’re just above the table. I wanted to stop before I do too much

I know the prongs need to be just below the table and rest on the
part of the stone between the girdle and table (don’t know the name),
so they need to be filed more, but I’m wondering about the shape of
the metal. Do I need to file some kind of seat or notch into the
prong? Or thin it? Or…? The wire is about 1mm square, no longer
has any taper to it and not so very pretty. I’m using a 4x6 oval
setting with a CZ, so I’m not really worried about damaging the
stone, but of course I’d like to be successful the first time if I

Can I then use a regular chain nose pliers to push the prongs over?
I know to move from two o’clock to eight o’clock to ten o’clock to
four o’clock. Anything else I need to know?

Any and all tips/thoughts/instructions will be
appreciated, on or off line.

Lora Hart

Lora, the typical setting method is not to trim the prongs shorter
at first. leave them long. it give you more metal to grab when
bending the prongs. After they’re bent over, THEN you trim off the
excess. I usually just use a small, very sharp, pair o flush cut
nippers if i want a square end cut, or even, with stones hard enough
to be safe around saw blades, saw them to length with a 4/0 blade.
Another method is to use standard nippers, which leave a peaked end
to the cut. this takes a bit of practice to be sure the “shock” of
nipping the tip doesn’t damage the stone, or that in nipping, the
scrap end of the tip isn’t bent towards the stone further, which can
happen if the tips of the nippers aren’t sharp all the way to the
tip. If you’re not sure, the saw is often safest, but also hardest
to do.

Before you can set anything, you need to cut a seat for the stone,
unless you’ve bought pre notched heads, and even then, it’s best to
further fit the notches or seats to better fit the shape of the
girdle. Usually this is just a slight notch, cut about 1/4 to 1/3 of
the way into the inside surface of the prong, on which the stone sits
level, without rocking, and with all seats touching the stone. that
both supports the stone properly, and also weakens the prong slightly
at the girdle and above, so when you bend the prong, it defines the
bending point of the prong, rather than forcing the prong to just
bend on account of using the girdle of the stone as a fulcrum. If
you don’t’ cut a seat, the prongs don’t bend cleanly, the stones can
and usually will shift off of level, and there’s a very large chance
of chipping the stone. Commonly, seats are cut with setting burs,
either the 90 degree straight sided ones, or various flavors of hart
bur, which cut an undercut notch in the prong. With experience, and
especially with fancy shaped stones, ball burs and bud burrs can be
of great use to exactly fitting a seat for a stone. After the stone
is seated./fitted to the head, only then are the prongs bent over it,
and trimmed to length. After trimming a file can be used to refine
the shape, or with smaller stones and small heads, often a cup bur
is used to just round over the end of the prong evenly in all
directions. with larger prongs, I prefer a more defined and tailored
shape, still rounded, but mostly on the front and sides, while the
back is left with the curved plane derived from bending it over.
Other tip shapes can be little ‘claws", or “beads”, or almost
whatever you like, so long as it’s secure, and doesn’t catch things
too badly from being sharp. The file you use to clean up the shape
should have a "safe’ edge. Commonly, a barrette file is used, with
the originally sharp edges of the file being polished or sanded
smooth, so the edge riding right at the stone has no teeth, but the
surface facing the prong is still a fine file. One can also use any
of a variety of rubber wheel abrasives to shape and clean up prongs.
which ones depend on the stone type (it’s hardness). Pumice wheels
are common and popular for this…

Hope that helps.


I have to jump in on this one, but first Lora I am not picking on
you but all of us who try some new technique. I am not going into
stone setting, I am sure someone else will. But, I cannot imagine
trying something you have never done on a piece without first
practicing. Order some small silver settingsand CZs solder the
settings to a piece of silver and practice. I probably set 100
stones before I was permitted to set a stone in a “real” piece.
After I took an anticlastic raising workshop years ago when I got
back I wanted to make a piece in 18k. I resisted and used copper, I
have to say I was glad I did because it was terrible. Read some
books, check out the archives on orchid and practice practice
practice. Maybe you can do it perfect the first time but the odds
are against you.

With a little practice first you should be able to set the stone and
have a great finished piece that you can be proud of.

Practice practice practice

Bill Wismar

The very best advice on this topic is to take a beginning stone
setting class at one of the many schools you read about here on the
Orchid Forum. In the long run it will certainly be well worth
whatever it costs. And, if this is something you intend to pursue
seriously in the future, it really would be best to avoid the highly
over-rated trial and error method.

A search of the Orchid archives should bring up many helpful
postings about the benefit of taking classes.

Michael David Sturlin

For some well-illustrated lessons on various jewelry making
procedures, including stone setting (channel, prong, flush, etc.) go
to Go to the archives section, then
check out JA Certification programs, specifically bench jeweler
section. You’ll come upon an extensive listing of lessons that
cover repair, setting and lots more. Enjoy!

Donna Shimazu

1 Like

I am planning on taking a class in gem setting soon, but I wanted to
experiment with an inexpensive setting. Here’s what I did.

I filed notches in the prongs at the height of the girdle with a
three square file, sanded down the burs with emory paper,
thinned/refined the tops of the prongs a bit and bent the prongs with
my chain nose pliers. It worked great! Sanded and polished after
setting and had a prong set CZ in my PMC piece! I can imagine how
much better my work will look when I’m using proffessional tools and

Lora Hart

so sorry for interrupting the “chain” here but I wrote an article
for the BENCH magazine, just on “CLAW SETTING”. If you are interested
in reading it, ask me for it. If you want details and an easy way of
reading instructions I have them too. I teach my setting class here
in Toronto to absolute beginners/novices. Its not the details, but
the manner in which it is presented. So rest assured this article
will not be a burden to your mind.