As you know, I’m laying in supplies for my upcoming year’s practice
in silvermithing. I have a question to ask about stone setting that I
think I may have asked before, but I think I had asked it the wrong
way as it did not get many answers.
This year I want to focus on learning to learn various forms of
setting a single size of faceted stone: round, brilliant cut, 2.5
I chose this size for three reasons: 1) It was a suitable sized
stone for accenting a work rather than being the main reason for the
piece, 2) Most stones in this size are affordable to the beginner,
and 3) being just a hair under 0.1 inches it would be compatible with
my existing CNC tooling.
So my question is this:
What should my comprehensive selection sizes and shapes of of burs,
bits, etc be for setting just this particular size and shape of
Dear Andrew, Good luck with the 2.5mm. I find it is too small for
practice. I found cheap larger stones on ebay, have been practicing
with them. I do now have a large selection of 2.5 because it is a
perfect birthstone choice, but I cringe when I hear someone say they
want a mothers ring. I know that practice will make me better, but
it is so fun to wear larger practice pieces. Someday I will just
shrug, but I am year 3, and have set hundreds of rings, same with
pendants and earrings. I guess I do it for more pleasure than work.
I am new, and enjoying the postings. It has become a regular part of
my morning reading your postings. I am new to silversmithing, but
love the end results.
Sorry to hear about illnesses, hope everyone is on the mend. This
last year was the happiest of my life and it had nothing to do with
my health, finances or marital status. I have just arrived at a
wonderful place where peace has nothing to do with all that stuff.
Alaskan weather report, we are into our second week of below -30f.
For setting stones 2.5mm diameter into solid metal or a thick
bezel… a 1mm or 1.2mm drill bit…big enough to resist breaking and
small enough to correct it’s position with ball burrs.
Ball burrs 1.5mm, 2.0mm, 2.3mm. By boring out progressively the hole
can be positioned more accurately as it’s diameter increases. No need
to bore all the way through, just enough clearance for the pavilion.
When you get to the 2.3mm ball burr you are looking at the
circumference and it’s relation to the surrounding area. This is
where the precise spacing of the stones (if there are many) is
accomplished. Also the distance from any other feature can be
determined by what you see. Boring with the 2.3mm ball burr should be
deep enough to have a small portion of vertical sides. This allows
the hartz burr to do the least amount of metal removal.
Hartz burr 2.5mm. The hartz burr is fine toothed compared to a ball
burr. The hartz cannot gouge out metal like the ball can so expect
it to do no more than gently cut the seat for the stone and bore the
hole to the final diameter. It’s the last chance to make that small
adjustment in the hole position. This is where the seating depth is
determined according to the thickness of the girdle, and the seating
angle is made to relate with other stones or to allow for an
asymmetrical girdle and/or variations in table heights. Often I have
to go back to a ball burr to make more room for the hartz burr.
For setting into claws, a pair of flat needle nose pliers to adjust
the prongs, a 1.5mm hartz burr to cut the basic notches, and a 1mm
flat graver to trim the notches. There are many variables with a claw
setting. Best scenario is a minimal cut with a 2.5mm hartz burr, the
stone clicks in and you trim and form the tips. But an un-even
girdle will have you trimming individual prongs if you care.
I see many prongs set by cutting a notch, bending the top bit out,
snapping the stone in, straightening the prong to lock the stone
into the notch, snipping the prong level with the table, and rounding
off the tips. This is the cheap way. Even cheaper if the stone has no
seat apart from the notches. I find that stones need to be fully
seated on a circle of metal with claws holding the stone hard against
the seat. That’s my view for a setting that can withstand a big hit
on the table.
The tips of the prongs or claws should (in my view again) flow from
a strong outer part to a perfect union with the stone at the inner
part with no gaps or steps, so that the setting can be rubbed against
a towel and no threads will be snagged. How this is achieved is
another story and has little to do with burrs or bits.
CNC stones and CNC settings are sure to be a great marriage. I just
look at the old and the new with equal scepticism.
Andrew, I used a CZ when I wanted to practice for a central princess
cut stone in an engagement ring. My mentor suggested it, saying that
since CZ’s chip easier than diamonds, if I could set the CZ then I
would be able to set the diamond just fine, with equal care to
detail. Since CZ’s come in many colors now, you could make an
interesting variety of items for quite low cost. For a beginner, I
would suggest starting with 4mm to 6mm rounds. Do the bigger ones
first. Smaller is more difficult. Get a few of those under your
belt, and then work your way down as desired. Please do not keep
preparing and amassing and getting ready indefinitely! Just set
something! Does anyone you know have some old, broken jewelry lying
around? Rip the stones out, however crummy they are, and just set
some in a practice plate (sheet of copper or something). How can you
resist getting to it?
Be assured that no matter the numbers and sizes of burs you have,
you never have the correct size for the job.
not having the correct size bur for the job was the frustration of
tonight. And now I will forever think of this as the new Paf’s Law.
Barbara on a splendid moon night, as long as she forgets about Paf’s
Be assured that no matter the numbers and sizes of burs you have,
you never have the correct size for the job.
Oh nonsense. You’ll almost always have at least three of the correct
sized burs. Two of them will be misplaced somewhere, and the third,
right in front of you, will be too dull to cut metal. But you
nevertheless do indeed have the right bur.
The saving grace is that you can almost always, almost as easily and
sometimes more easily, use a smaller sized bur than one that’s the
same as the stone. The exact size bur, should it chatter, will have
overcut the size of the seat and will have left it rough too. Doing
it a bit more gently with a smaller bur, won’t do that… And
besides, how often is your bur the exact right size to cut the
perfect seat? Often, it’s a hair too small or too large anyway, so
using a slightly smaller bur than the theoretically ideal size, isn’t
such a stretch from what you’d normally need to do anyway, even with
the “ideal” bur.
My mentor suggested it, saying that since CZ's chip easier than
CZs can be good for practice, but the real test of setting skills is
to set paste stones or half pearls. If you can set these without
chipping, you can set anything.
About bur sizes. Having different sized burs is a luxury, but not the
necessity. You will get a better perspective on setting by using one
bur only, or even no burs at all.
Purchase long taper 4mm conical bur. After drilling pilot hole, use
this bur to open it to required size ( slightly smaller than stone
). Final fitting is done with graver. Later on you can add finishing
bur to your tool box, but before you need to understand geometry
involved in setting by fitting stones with graver.
Variations: hole can be opened to almost size by using jeweler’s saw
and bur is only used for finishing. It extends the life of the bur. A
hole can also be refined by judicial use of a graver. The value of
these exercises are in training one’s hands rather than relying on
technology. In that way, technology can be used more effectively later
I have 720 diamonds to set this weekend, but almost ran out of the
right size of burs. These little stones were only 1.10 -1.20 mm’s.
so I bought extra dozen of the right size, and a dozen more of a
just in case. you never know what left-over size I might be up
against during these two days of setting…
What should my comprehensive selection sizes and shapes of of
burs, bits, etc be for setting just this particular size and shape
Andrew, You are asking too broad a question. If you are going to
teach yourself stone setting I suggest you get a book that talks
about all the types of settings procedures and that also discusses
tools and gives exercises. One very fine such book is “Creative Stone
Setting”, by John Cogswell. It’s an excellent book with chapters on
tools and equipment, bezel settings, prong settings, graver
settings, gypsy and flush-mount settings, and tension settings.
Excellent photos and drawings. Your 2.5 mm round faceted stones could
be set using many (maybe all) of those setting types so your choice
is a good one. Read the book, do the samples Cogswell supplies, and
you’ll have a petty good introduction to stone setting. Just be aware
that some jewelers specialize in JUST setting stones, since it is a
pretty technical and demanding subject; it takes years to become
really proficient at it. (And I’m not there yet in most of the the
types.) It occurs to me, after re-reviewing Cogswell’s chapter on
bezel-set stones, that in the recent discussion about how to measure
a bezel length, different Orchid members seem to have had in mind
different types of bezels and different types
stones-to-be-set-into-bezels, which mind-sets I suspect contributed
to the strong differences of opinion. I suggest ever yone who
participated in that discussion take a look at Cogswell’s book,
remind themselves about the MANY types of bezel settings (and
corresponding fabrication approaches) and think about which situation
they had in mind in the discussion and then re-read what others had
to say and consider what type of situation THEY had in mind. Some of
those opinioins might make more sense!
And Pat, I have no doubt that you are right, but I am sure
Alastair’s suggestions will be a very good start.
My intentions for 2012, once it gets warm enough, is:
Forge more sets of fine silver cross earrings, adding color to
some through torch enamelling.
Rethink my silver-framed ebony pendant design by connecting the
wood background and the silver frame together via homemade silver
screws, nuts, and bolts. I’m calling upon my prior experience with
aluminum, and a recent purchase of 0-80 and 00-90 drill and tap sets.
Create better silver chain for the above with less labor.
Previously, I had used my rolling mill, torches, a vise, and a
jewelers saw. It took me three weeks of half time days to create a
single 28 inch chain. That’s too much effort for the chain to
command a fair wage, and the sawing of the coil into jump rings was
what took me the most effort.
This time, I have obtained a jump ring cutting pliers, the type
which holds the coil inside with a slit on the side to admit the
jeweler’s saw. That, and lubricating the saw, should together double
Three things I would like to attempt if I have the time:
Add 2.5 mm brilliant cut round stones as accents to my pendant.
Incorporate agate and shell elements into the foreground of the
Start using my kiln to make glazed porcelain elements for
earrings and pendant.
That’s my reason for all of my unrelated questions on the group.
Yes, I have a plan.
Please do not keep preparing and amassing and getting ready
No indefinitely, no. But I think you need to understand my
Here I sit, about 75 miles south of the Canadian border. I’m as close
to The Great White North as you can be and still be an American.
Our area (Northern Idaho panhandle) has become infamous for its
snowstorms. We just has three feet of snow a couple of weeks ago:
My car was almost completely convered in snow. My backyard IS
completely covered in snow! I’ve also got snow blocking the entrance
to 10X16 crafting shed in my backyard, so I can’t even get in there
to do anything.
My wife has forbidden me from crafting in that shed until I can get
space heaters running in there 24-7, or Spring thaw, whichever comes
So in this region of the country at least, between Thanksgiving and
the Ides Of March, I am forced to be inactive.
So what I do instead, is prepare for the rest of the year. I ask a
lot of questions, and I buy a lot of stuff, and I do a lot of
This year, I also have some friends who will help me run a 40 to 60
Amp 220V line from the house to the shed through an underground
conduit. We plan to break ground as soon as the soil can get warm
I wonder how to make an undersized bur chatter? Seems like that
would solve "Paf's Law".
you have, or care about, laws? Since when?
More the the point, it seems to me that burs chatter when cutting
all the way around, in a position similar to a drill bit cutting
straight down. If a bur is cutting into a larger seat, it’s only
cutting along a portion of it’s perimeter, and like this, it is much
less likely to chatter.
The other thing about chattering burs though, is that the seat cut
this way is a mess, not a smooth nice cut. Stones sitting in that
sort of seat don’t fit well, even if it’s as close to the right size
Oh, and one other thing about chattering burs. Put a sweater on the
poor thing to keep it warm, give it some hot chocolate to drink, and
between the two, it’ll warm up enough to stop chattering with a bit
of luck and luv…