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Invisible stone setting basics


#1

I know that invisible set type stones have grooves cut into the
girdles so that they fit into one another. I just don’t know how the
techinique works to begin with. Does anyone work on pieces of that
nature? How does someone reset stones that fall out during a repair?

Rene’ Howard


#2

My rule of thumb is, I never work on them at all. Send it back to
the original manufacture. They are more headache then they are
worth!!


#3

I’ll give this one a go.

I’m not a setter and have been out of the mainstream trade for a few
years so am prepared to be corrected but much of the invisible
setting occurs in the items that are cast with the stones already in
place. Replacing a stone when it falls out is nigh on impossible
(from my limited experience) and I am yet to find a setter who will
undertake the job on an ongoing basis.

Good luck,
Roger


#4
I know that invisible set type stones have grooves cut into the
girdles so that they fit into one another. 

Well, not exactly. They do have grooved girdles but they don’t fit
’into’ each other. An annoyingly small tang fits into the groove to
form the main cluster of stones with the outside stones bezel set in
the normal way on their outer flanks. Something like tongue and
groove flooring except the tongue is metal which gets burnished into
the groove as each successive stone is set.

These invisible bezels are fragile, usually with very thin azures,
mostly being deformed when the ring is sized, which is why hardly
anyone wants to size those puppies.

I will say there are two grades of invisibles. The cheap stuff that
falls apart when you look at it, and the well made things that
actually take a fair amount of coercion before they make you regret
taking on the job any way. The way to tell which you’re dealing with
is in the quality of the stones… “Usually” VVS goods indicate the
setting was well made, but its by no means a foolproof guide. What to
look for on the mount is if its heavily made, enough so as to resist
even minor deformation. The stones are held in place by tiny amounts
of metal that are precisely located. If the basic structure of the
mount allows any relative motion of those locations you will have
trouble

How does someone reset stones that fall out 

If the culprit stone is along the outer row, simply open up the
bezel, TRY to reshape the invisible tang (if needed) to grab the
stone as you place it back in. Then close the outer bezel. If the
offending stone is in the middle of the field, Oh Jeez, sometimes you
have to unset other stones to allow you proper access. You need the
sharpest of burnishers to get in tight to the stone, I’ve even
resorted to a scalpel on occasion. No fun.

When you’re done and you really think you got it down…resist the
temptation to use a steamer on it. Unless you want to repeat the
process.


#5
Replacing a stone when it falls out is nigh on impossible (from my
limited experience) and I am yet to find a setter who will
undertake the job on an ongoing basis. 

I think I know what you mean.

I have a theory which I would like to test.

I never executed a single piece involving invisible setting, but I
spent many hours thinking about the technique.

It is my theory that everything that is written about the technique,
all the explanation of “how to” is total bunk, including description
provided with several patterns. It was patented by Van Cleef &
Arpels, and I do not believe a word of the description provided with
the patent. Is anybody out there who actually practice invisible
setting by the methods described? I would love to hear for you.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#6
Send it back to the original manufacture. They are more headache
then they are worth!! 

Yep. And some are cast in place, but many or most are not. If you
MUST do it, make sure they know it’s not going to be cheap. You need
a stone that fits - the old one didn’t fit, which is why it fell out

  • ;} You need to open the end of the channel where the vacant space
    is (probably just grind it away). Unload the diamonds up to the
    space, fill it all back up again, and then solder the channel closed
    again and finish it up.

Generally it’s virtually impossible to mechanically open the edge
enough to get the stones out - by bending, that is. And if you can
"snap" in a stone, then it doesn’t fit well enough to bother. Then
hope some more don’t come out in the whole process. It’s a lovely
effect, but most makers don’t bother with the kind of precision that
will make pieces that last - some stones are hanging on by a 100th of
a mm, and rattling to boot… Send it back or it will become YOUR
headache…


#7
These invisible bezels are fragile, usually with very thin azures,
mostly being deformed when the ring is sized, which is why hardly
anyone wants to size those puppies. 

That and the fact that occasionally, the stones are actually in
girdle to girdle contact above the metal that’s actually holding
them. If you then size the ring larger, the decrease in curve forces
the stones either into each other, or just out. The first can chip
the stones, the second is just as annoying.

One trick, though, that sometimes will help avoid or reduce
problems with invisible set stones if you have no way to avoid it,
and cannot say no (like, you’re an employee who’s boss won’t listen
to you, or a customer who is too important an account to turn away
who also won’t take no for an answer) is to melt orange flake shellac
all through the stones, above and below, completely encasing the
diamonds and setting metal. Helps to keep it from shifting and
moving. Dissove the shellac after by simply soaking in alcohol.
Avoid the ultrasonic. let it take it’s time. And if you like, prayer
isn’t out of the question…

And as well, if you have to size these, you can also help avoid
problems by not bending the set section at all. Leave the ring oval
or egg shaped, without trying to round it out. Some times, rings with
heavy shoulders make that difficult. In those, you can sometimes more
easily do that by cutting into the shoulders of the ring from the
inside, maybe half way through, enough so you can bend the shank more
sharply at that point, either in or out, to open or close the gap at
the bottom needed for the size adjustment. This leaves the ring not
round, of course, but can avoid changing the curve of the set
section. A laser welder is especially useful here as you can then
avoid any heating as well, when you then have to weld up the seam or
gap formed under each shoulder. Another ploy is to size the ring on
both sides, rather than the bottom, literally moving the whole bottom
half of the ring up or down. Again, this leaves the ring not round.
Which method to choose, if either, depends on which will leave the
ring better looking, or will be easier to do, or similar concerns.

And for those brave souls intent on believing that they, alone among
jewelers, can size these things normally without problems, I’d relate
that I know at least one diamond setter, who in all other areas of
diamond setting is a total stickler for quality, who when faced with
needing to reset an invisible set stone that has fallen out, will
sometimes resort to super glue, and hope he doesnt’ end up seeing the
damn thing again. Another fix I’ve seen, has the stone that’s fallen
out, slightly recut, to remove the corners. That lets him laser weld
in a tiny wire into the gap left by the corners, which then can be,
again with the laser, turned into tiny beads at the corners. This
actually works, leaving the stone essentially bead set, with the
holding metal no longer invisible, but secure. But this is a total
PITA to have to do, what with the cost of trimming that diamond, and
the time involved. Rarely, when a stone falls out, you may have
sufficient amount of the original “flange” showing, or can modify it,
perhaps by adding a trace with a laser, so that you can restore the
flange’s “length”, and raise it’s angle up slightly. Then, if you can
fit the stone down onto the raised flange edges and gently push down,
the stone itself forces the flanges down and into the grooves, again
holding it. Doesn’t always work as planned, but I’ve managed it a few
times. Usually with platinum, not white gold.

Personally, though, I tend to think the things should be illegal.
They look wonderful, and customers assume they will deliver proper
service, when in fact many are disasters waiting to happen. Kind of
like selling a car even when you KNOW it is going to get the buyer
into an accident due to manufacturing defects, and not even bothering
to mention those concerns to the unwary buyer…

Peter


#8
Personally, though, I tend to think the things should be illegal.
They look wonderful, and customers assume they will deliver proper
service, when in fact many are disasters waiting to happen 

Boy Peter I’m with you on this and while we’re at it let’s make that
disgusting micro pave illegal too. You can’t even see the darn
stones under magnification, they’re so tiny. All they are is a way to
use garbage in jewelry to give it a certain “look” and charge huge
money for something that cost pennies (I mean come on, how much can
diamonds that weigh a quarter of one point cost anyway???). Hmmm, I
think it’s all that advertising some people think doesn’t work that
makes people buy all that stuff.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
www.spirerjewelers.com


#9

Mega Dittos, Daniel!! I know of NOBODY that’s happy to see some of
these things come in for repair or sizing! YIKES! and YUK!


#10
It was patented by Van Cleef & Arpels, and I do not believe a word
of the description provided with 

Van Cleef’s original method was to set each stone by “snapping” it
into a little square underneath, not by setting them on rails, as
most people do now. Most of the work done by others with diamond or
corundum often involves heat in one way or another - setting them
into little boxes lets you also set emerald invisibly. It’s probably
10x more effort to do it that way, but Van Cleef’s work is priced
accordingly, too.


#11
Van Cleef's original method was to set each stone by "snapping" it
into a little square underneath, not by setting them on rails, as
most people do now. Most of the work done by others with diamond
or corundum often involves heat in one way or another 

problem with Van Cleef method is that may be it is doable when small
amount of stones like 4 or 6, but to do it with 40 - 50 stones is
just too much. There are has to be a better way.

Rails is another technique with looks good on paper, but in practice
it is quite different. I never saw anybody actually doing, nor I have
I seen any photos. Only drawings. Drawing and doing is two different
animal.

Any heat technique is doomed to failure because outside of the metal
shrinks upon cooling and that makes holes larger. What was tight when
it was hot, becomes loose once cools. I suspect that some glue is
used
to tighten the stones. And of course, once you put it in ultrasonic,
all the stones will be on the bottom.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#12
Any heat technique is doomed to failure because outside of the
metal shrinks upon cooling and that makes holes larger. What was
tight when it was hot, becomes loose once cools. 

Are you saying that a hole in a piece of metal gets smaller when the
metal is heated, and larger when it cools? If so, then you are quite
definitely wrong.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#13
problem with Van Cleef method is that may be it is doable when
small amount of stones like 4 or 6, but to do it with 40 - 50
stones is just too much. There are has to be a better way. 

Rails is another technique with looks good on paper, but in practice
it is quite different. I never saw anybody actually doing, nor I
have I seen any photos. Only drawings. Drawing and doing is two
different animal.

Any heat technique is doomed to failure because outside of the metal
shrinks upon cooling and that makes holes larger. What was tight
when it was hot, becomes loose once cools. I suspect that some glue
is used to tighten the stones. And of course, once you put it in
ultrasonic, all the stones will be on the bottom.

Well, that’s all well and good, Leonid, except that that’s how it’s
done…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#14
Are you saying that a hole in a piece of metal gets smaller when
the metal is heated, and larger when it cools? If so, then you are
quite definitely wrong. 

I am afraid but hole does get larger upon cooling. If you think about
for at least 10 seconds, you would understand why.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#15

Seek and ye shall find… Sometimes right under your nose ;}

http://www.ganoksin.com/borisat/nenam/ajm-invisible-setting-
lesson.htm

Not like most of the work I’ve had to tinker with. Was a guy down
the hall who made an invisible set line, till his back went out, and
he used other methods, too. But it’s one way, anyway…


#16
I am yet to find a setter who will undertake the job on an ongoing
basis..

We will send these out to Signature Jewelers in LA, they specialize
in invisible setting. You may have seen their ad in the back of AJM
(a good example of an ad that works). We have sent dozens of jobs to
them with no problems to date. They give an estimate for the minimum
repair (no warranty) or full repair (comes with 6 month warranty).

I know that there is a Blaine Lewis tutorial in the Orchid archives
that gives an illustrated step by step of the invisible setting
procedure, at least one method. It’s worth a look.

Mark


#17
I am afraid but hole does get larger upon cooling. If you think
about for at least 10 seconds, you would understand why. 

I suggest you think about it for more than 10 seconds then. Take a
sheet of metal, scribe a circle on it and heat the sheet. The sheet
expands of course, but what happens to the circle? It expands too,
obviously.

Now, using a very thin saw, cut the circle out and put it back in the
hole. Now heat the sheet (and circle) the same as before. Do you
really think that the hole gets smaller to pinch the circle, or do
you think the circle gets smaller? Of course not; the hole and
circle expand the same amount, and contract the same amount when they
cool.

Industry has long used shrink fits to fasten things together
permanently: iron tyres are (were) fitted to wooden wheels by heating
them to expand them before putting them on the wheels. When the tyre
cooled it gripped the wheel securely. The same process was used to
fit the iron tyres to iron locomotive wheels. By the same token, iron
wheels were expanded by heat to fix them to the axle. When they
cooled down they were on the axle for good.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#18

I think Leonid says that If the metal is cooled it shrinks and might
be pulling the hole borders to expand it. However other might think
that when the metal is heated it expands and the hole expand as
well? Jim Binnion? please?


#19

Leonid,

Any heat technique is doomed to failure because outside of the
metal shrinks upon cooling and that makes holes larger. What was
tight when it was hot, becomes loose once cools. 

The ring and the ball test with a bunsen Burner. When cold the ball
will not go through the ring. Heat up the ring or cool the ball and
it will. Same with Shrink fit Tool Holders. Heat up the Tool Holder
and chill the tool. Slide the tool into the tool holder and allow to
return to room temp. You will never get that tool out of there
without reheating the holder. Expand and contract on mass.

Best Regards.
Neil George


#20
I am afraid but hole does get larger upon cooling. If you think
about for at least 10 seconds, you would understand why. 

Leonid, you would be correct if only the inner edges of the hole
were heating and cooling. But think about it. Take more than 10
seconds if needed. Heat a whole ring, with a hole in it. The entire
piece expands. The hole, along with everything else, expands. On
cooling, EVERYTHING gets smaller. Even if the borders of the hole
shrink slightly away from the hole, as you correctly say, the overall
shrinkage of the larger mass of metal is much more.

A simple test for you. Heat up a ring, and drop it lightly onto a
ring mandrel while hot. It goes down onto the mandrel as far as it
can till the mandrel fits the finger hole. If this were a cold ring,
it would have gone down to roughly it’s measures size, and then it
could then easily be lifted right back up. But the hot ring,
expanded, will go down slightly more, and now shrinks, and you’ll
find that it’s quite tight on the mandrell, and when you finally
remove it, if you measure the size, you’ll find it’s become slightly
larger than before because while hot, it slipped further down on the
mandrel, and on cooling, had to stretch to fit. Without the mandrel,
the hole itself would, like the whole ring, have shrunk back to it’s
original size. A hole in a piece of metal, when the whole piece is
heated, expands along with the entire piece. It’s an overall
expansion, a percentage of any linear measurment. Because the
overall measurment is larger than any part of the piece, the overall
expansion is greater. Heating does NOT make a hole smaller. Your
error is in forgetting that the overall expansion on heating is
larger than any slight expansion of the metal towards the center of
the hole.

If it helps, consider a balloon. As you blow it up, the surface
expands evenly. Every point on the balloon surface moves away from
all other points. Any mark drawn on the balloon or printed designes,
etc, expands in all directions. On deflating, the marks again
shrink, along with the entire surface. Heat expansion of the metal is
the same. A hole in the metal behaves the same way as a printed mark
on that balloon.

Peter