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Invisibly set diamonds


#1

Dear Katie, and all, The issue of invisible setting and missing
stones could keep a few of us pecking the keyboard for weeks.
Instead of the term “invisible setting” being used, it should more
accurately named “invisible diamonds”, as jewellery containing these
grooved stones too often release them into the wearer’s environment,
never to be seen again.

The repair of these articles should be the responsibility of the
manufacturer, as they need to be made aware of their failures.
Invisible settings are indeed beautiful when executed with accuracy,
but there is an issue of durability which should be addressed. These
rings (generally) do not stand up to alteration of any kind,
especially a radical change in finger size.Even the heating and
cooling of the metal can result in loose or damaged stones. Simply
plugging the hole left by an escaped diamond will not solve an
inherent problem, and it is likely that the replacement stone will
soon say goodbye as well, maybe even taking a few of it’s friends
with it.

If you are faced with a significant amount of this type of repair,
this should indicate to you the depth of the problem. My advice to
you is to refuse to do these repairs, as they will only come back to
haunt you later. The costs of someone else’s choice of setting
method will become yours. Those who have profited from the sale of
these items should bear the cost of replacement of the stones, or
the complete jewellery item they came out of. Some of the companies
which manufacture invisibly set jewellery offer a guarantee, and
this should be taken advantage of, if the peices fall into that
category. You should not do repairs which are likely to fail, as the
initail profits are slim, and the long-term cost to your business
can be staggering. To those who retail these products; insist on a
service plan and guarantee from the manufacturers. If they don’t
stand behind their work, run in the opposite direction. Product
failure hurts everyone in the industry, and converts the initial
profit from the sale into a cost, one which most of us cannot bear.
David Keeling www.davidkeelingjewellery.com


#2
    Dear Katie, and all, The issue of invisible setting and
missing stones could keep a few of us pecking the keyboard for
weeks. 

Hi David; Boy, I couldn’t agree more. When these settings first
appeared, they were the product of the fine old houses like Van Cleef
and Arpels. They were beautifully done showpieces that weren’t
intended for everyday wear. Now the stuff is mass produced cheaply,
and I believe some of this is even done by “cast-in-place” stone
"setting" methods. I won’t even put it in the ultrasonic. When one
of those stones falls out on your watch, you may have inherited a
major headache. There are companies that specialize in repairing
these babies though. I seem to remember an ad in the back of
Jeweler’s Circular Keystone magazine. More power to them, I say.
If you don’t have a good knowledge of how these settings are made and
have some tricks up your sleeve for how to repair them, you’ll be
hemorrhaging money taking in those kinds of repairs as you spend
hours tinkering with them instead of knocking out your bread & butter
work.

David L. Huffman
David L. Huffman Studios, Inc.


#3

In about 1985 I was shown an experimental cut diamond that blew my
socks off.

A flat rectangular crystal (a mackle?) had been cut with one large
table and a whole series of smaller back facets. Looking through the
table was like looking at pave set diamonds but with no interfering
metal.

I’ve never seen another. Has anyone else?

Tony Konrath
www.goldandstone.com


#4

About a year ago, I had the absolute pleasure of teaching faceting
to a young man named Alberto Aletto. Alberto is a 5th generation
jeweler and the son of one of the world famous Aletto brothers of
Boca Raton, FL, the makers of the finest invisible setting in the
world. I mean these pieces fetch far and above any other invisible
setting made and the construction is always absolutely perfect.
During the course, I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend
some time in their shop where, with my head proped on the bench, I
watched while Alberto and his dad cut slots into individual faceted
rubies in preparation for inserting them into a framework constructed
by an even younger Luigi Aletto. Each piece consisted of
approximately 400 rubies and a number of diamonds to create a
georgeous flower.

After all of that, it was explained to me that the difference
between their invisible set pieces and what we see mostly on the
market is in the lattice frame that holds the stones. Theirs is
constructed of individual ‘T’ shaped lateral chambers and, when the
stones are inserted, each stone locks in the one before it. Most
invisible settings are cast and each stone is ‘snapped’ in
individually. There is no locking mechanism and, when one comes out
due to some stress or another, others will soon follow because the
empty cell allows further distortion of the framework. Furthermore,
in the Aletto settings, each individual slot in each stone is cut by
the same jeweler who made the frame (or at least in the same shop)
and is fitted with zero tolerance. Granted this may not be possible
to do with diamonds, especially large numbers of diamonds, but it
results in highly sophisticated designs of superb quality.

I don’t know if I will ever make such a setting but just watching
them was the thrill of a lifetime.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry and the weather is cooling off beautifully!
@coralnut1


#5

David, you hit the nail on the head in your response concerning
"invisible set diamonds" and how to handle repairs. There are some
companies who will groove the stones and do the work for you, again,
an “out of house” job. You said:

Those who have profited from the sale of these items should bear
the cost of replacement of the stones, or the complete jewellery
item they came out of. Some of the companies which manufacture
invisibly set jewellery offer a guarantee, and this should be
taken advantage of, if the peices fall into that category. You
should not do repairs which are likely to fail, as the...

The place where I work has sold many invisible set rings. I won’t
mention the main supplier except to say it starts with a K. I
actually can’t think of the name or I would tell it! The supplier
has been good to redo lost stones. Unfortunately, the work often
results in another lost stone, lost faith in our store and a lost
customer. I for one would stay totally away from such setting
types. The setting is lovely but too fragile and the outside edge
too thin when set into the groove for long distance life of the
setting.

Any jeweler who attempts such repairs does so at his/her peril, in
my very humble opinionm. So, I fully agree that the responsibility
is in the manufacturer to make things right. Unfortutnately, the
loss first happens from the very goods of that maker and the repair
or replacement in effect is no better than the original.

Beauty is one thing. Put it on canvas. Beauty is something else in
jewelry where daily exposure to life will wreak havoc on some
setting styles. We have since discontinute to stock or repurchase
items from that particular supplier.

Was it the makers fault that the items do not last? Is it the fault
of the setting style? I would tend to go for the latter. Overall,
to sell fine goods and lasting goods is a goal for repeat business
and credibility. All reflect the perceived(who knew about these
thing beforehand, anyway?) knowledge of the “company buyer” and the
willingness to give up fad for something more substantial in the
long run… long run for the customer and the business.

Thank you very, very much for an accurate and real to life post on
this subject.

Thomas., bench jeweler. @Sp.T


#6

If the person who needed grooved diamonds for invisible setting will
post the size/color/clarity and quantity needed, etc. or contact me,
maybe I can help out. I know several people who specialize in
diamond grooving and manufacture very high quality mountings for
invisible settings.

There’s a huge difference in the quality of settings on the market.
Some are junky, as several posts have indicated. Others are durable
and of very high quality. The latter cost more, of course, but sadly
the public wants things cheap and it’s the repairers who pay the
penalty.

Let me know if I can help out.
Rick Martin
MARTIN DESIGNS


#7

Hi Don, I am curious as to what tool did they use to cut the slots in
the gemstones and how exactly was it done, if you can divulge this
Thanks!

Best regards,
John


#8

Yes John, they were using small diamond wheels in flex shafts to cut
the slots. They had devised a holder device for the stones made of a
pair of stainless steel tweezers or, if the stone was large enough
(most were about 2mm square faceted stones) they would hold them in
their fingers. They lubricated the diamond wheel in some kind of
mixture (I remember that it sort of sprayed around). The slots were
relatively easy to cut though it sometimes required two or three
fittings before it was perfect. After the slots were cut, they would
re-facet the crowns by eye and hand…again using the diamond wheel.
They would smooth the recut with a finer wheel. The problem I was
helping them with was how to get all the crown main facets the same
size and how to get a perfect and consistent polish on them. While
we never did come up with a way to do it on a faceting machine (too
slow and cumbersome), we were able to improve the polish by using
some pads and pastes they were not aware of.

This was very intense work but the results were gorgeous. Re the
diamonds, I never did see how they treated them only the rubies and
some sapphires.

Hope that answers your questions. Cheers from Don at The Charles
Belle Studio in SOFL where simple elegance IS fine jewelry.
@coralnut1