Pave setting instruction

Hi there everyone! Guys Im looking forward for your fantastic pieces
of advice.

Where can i find free detailed instruction on Pave setting?

Thanks a million.

Quite a bit of literature on that, most of which is going to be
useless unless you have somebody who can teach you. It’s not a skill
you can self teach, in my opinion. In fact, I personally don’t think
there is much of anything in this trade that can be self taught and
make you more than a wannabe. “A little knowlege is a dangerous
thing”. Find classes, then practice, practice, practice.

David L. Huffman

Where can i find free detailed instruction on Pave setting? 

You would do well to buy DVD’s by Sam Alfano or if you’re really
serious, take some classes:

A quick trawl of the net… I’ve come up with bupkiss :frowning:

Looking for reasonably priced good books :-

A no nonsense book.

A more in depth trawl of the net produced this :-

Regards Charles A.

It's not a skill you can self teach, in my opinion. 

But somebody once did, didn’t they? I really don’t believe all the
arts were handed down from the muses.

Al Balmer
Pine City, NY

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Hi Al,

But somebody once did, didn't they? I really don't believe all the
arts were handed down from the muses. 

True, but re-inventing the wheel when it’s not necessary is a waste
of time.

I’ve found that a lot of the skills I’ve picked up I could have
learned myself, but would have taken longer to figure out.

Watching a skilled person demonstrate once, saves me a week to three
months. Getting good is then a matter of practice.

Regards Charles A.

1 Like

I taught myself to Pave’ as well as bead and bright cut and have
gotten more than one job because of the quality of my work. It was
not easy and it took a lot longer than taking a class would have. I
recommend you find a teacher or at least someone to mentor you.
There is so much to know and not just about setting the stones.
Layout, sharpening gravers, bright cutting, etc. not to mention
getting the stones in straight, level and perfectly spaced, and of
course nice crisp clean beads that are even and all the same size,
etc, etc, etc. Frank

If you already have the knowledge and the ability to do basic stone
setting, then I think you can learn new techniques from a good video.

Hi Al:

But somebody once did, didn't they? I really don't believe all the
arts were handed down from the muses. 

Well, if you want to re-invent the wheel, it’s possible. I can speak
from experience on this issue. Before I learned from someone who
knew what they were doing, I spent years trying to do bright cutting,
looking at books and examples. I never got a product that looked
like what I was trying to copy, and it was a struggle to do even what
I could. Why? Because there’s always something that’s not in the
books, or there’s an explanation that you’ll never understand until
it’s demonstrated, or they assume you already know things like how to
properly sharpen a graver. Now, I never even tried to do classical
pave, until someone showed me how. I was surprised how great it
turned out, and that with only a single afternoon of instruction. I’m
certain I never would have figured it out by myself, because, looking
at it, you assume how it’s done, but it’s not done that way at all.
Want to know the secret? Go take the class with Blain Lewis.

Most techniques evolved from simpler, earlier methods. The oldest
examples I’ve seen of bright cutting were done in fine silver, a very
soft metal. Later they were done in platinum, also pretty soft.
Probably someone with some serious engraving skills finally tried it
in white gold. He would have known that the graver angles would need
to be different, and he would have had the strenght to carve a very
stubborn alloy. Recently, it’s being done in stainless steel. With
the invention of carbide gravers and pneumaticly driven handpieces,
it’s no longer such an exercise in masochism.

Finally, in regards to your statement about muses, I prefer the old
saw, “necessity is the mother of all invention”. Somebody, for some
reason, had to invent a way to do bright cutting to begin with, but
they most likely had a lot of related skills like engraving and other
types of stone setting. Somebody built on that and did it in white
gold, probably because somebody wanted the look but didn’t want to
spend the money on platinum. I’ve actually invented a couple of my
own setting techniques that I’ve not seen anywhere else. But I based
the ideas on things I already knew how to do like channel setting and
even drew from my background in blacksmithing.

David L. Huffman

True, but re-inventing the wheel when it's not necessary is a
waste of time. 

“Waste of time” is considerably different than “can’t be done”, isn’t
it? There are times when it’s necessary to learn or even invent
things on your own, and skills learned in that way stick with you.
Unfortunately, so do bad habits, so it is better to be mentored. But
I would not discourage someone from trying to learn when it’s not
practical to have someone teach them.

Al Balmer
Pine City, NY

I think you can learn a lot on your own, but it sure is helpful to
pick things up from others along the way. When I was an apprentice I
was shown how to bead set and bright cut and do pave’ work, so I knew
how to do it. But although the guy that trained me was an
unbelievable fabricator, he was only an above average bead setter.
Even when I was still working for the guy who trained me, I would see
fantastic bead work and wonder how it was done. I would talk to other
the goldmiths, show them and marvel at it’s precision and beauty. I
would then add that finished look to my memory and work to achieve
that in my future work. That sort of self education and goal setting
has been going on my whole life. Nobody told me how to do it, I just
see something and try to figure out how it’s done and then do it. I’d
guess most of us are like that. So I think yes, a dedicated person
with basic understanding of the techniques can get themselves moving
down the road toward being an excellent bead/pave’ setter.

Here is a nice video from Bench Tube.

Hello all,

I’m watching this article from the beginning. Lot’s of us talk about
knowledge and skilled masters, DVD education and more. Fact is that
getting good in something, is a well balanced play of instructions
and practice, lots of practice in matter of fact. If you realy don’t
have the feeling working with small objects, one can have the best
mentor and tremendous time of practice but you’ll never reach the
same level as one with the feeling you need to have for bead setting
or pave work.

You have to be keen and very focused to become a master in
something. Together with a prof mentor, the right spirit and lots of
practice, you’ll succeed after all.

It’s not only dedication, a good mentor, knowledge, practice and
having the feeling of handling a specific tool, it’s the fine tuning
of the whole ballgame to my believing. That well balanced play
results in becoming a true master. Then who’will be the master of a
master…it never ends, just something to think about.

Have fun and enjoy

Mark kindly referred us to this pave-setting video:

Could some of our experienced setters comment on the workmanship
here? The setter did not appear to be in control of his graver, and
his ‘exact’ division of the posts seemed very uneven. Is this an
example of good stone-setting? In the little I have seen, I don’t
remember the graver ‘jumping’ so much…

Janet in Jerusalem

Absolutely true, anything can be achieved by perseverance.

New techniques and skills for something outside of the box isn’t
re-inventing the wheel.

My view is that if someone has perfected a technique, why not take
advantage of that and save yourself some time?

There are some techniques that are difficult enough to do even when
you do have instruction.

I do agree with you :slight_smile:

Regards Charles A.

Well then, you can simply watch some videos, and if you get stuck
get a tip from a pro.

Could some of our experienced setters comment on the workmanship
here? The setter did not appear to be in control of his graver,
and his 'exact' division of the posts seemed very uneven. Is this
an example of good stone-setting? 

The video is terrible! The worst of all is that the guy, while
looking very professorial, has no idea of what pave or even stone
setting is.

My pet peeve about stone setting instructions is that no emphasis is
made on how unimportant the beads are, to setting process. If stone
is held by beads, you doing it wrong! If a book or a video tells you
that beads are needed to hold the stone, toss it into the garbage.
Beads are for DECORATION ONLY. This brings us to the subject of
microscope in setting. If beads are decoration, that what do we need
microscope for? The answer is that we do not need it. To decorate
the surface we have to see it, in full. Microscope hinders it.

The next question naturally would be what is holding the stone in
any setting, and pave especially. The answer is INTERFERENCE FIT.
Stone seat is made smaller than the stone, and stone is fitted by
patiently slipping it into the seat. Only by practicing, practicing,
and practicing one learns the finesse of the process. Make it too
tight and stone breaks, too loose and beads are required to hold the
stone. That is what happens in most of the cases. Students are not
taught how to do interference fit and they settle for beads as
holding mechanism. Another extremely important element of pave is
layout. That is very difficult thing to teach because every pave
project would have it own peculiarities. There are no general rules
to apply.

The milestones in pave mastery would be learning layout; learning to
fit stones into their seats; learning to raise beads, so they are all
the same; and putting it all together in one neat package. That
sounds simple but actually not. Raising beads requires mastery of
graver. Learning the fit, would require to understand what does it
take to drill to precise specification and what are the tolerances.
Learning the layout means delving into mysteries of surface
subdivisions and similar arcane subjects.

Each of these sub-tasks can be further split up, so it is not a
trivial enterprise to learn pave. The natural question at this point
is how to shorten the learning curve. The answer is to delay the
learning of the technique until other forms of setting are mastered.
Thread setting with variations of 5, 4, and 2 beads are great to
prepare for pave technique.

Leonid Surpin

1 Like

Hi all on the Pave Setting problem!

I avoid using a Flat graver, #4 width, so how do I bright-cut? Oh so
simple, I use a “Right-Sided, Onglette #2” that is used only for
Bright-Cutting. This is my superb modification based on a simple

This graver only cuts on one side only, if you are left-handed, (so
it must be then reshaped for cutting on the left side). When I use
this graver, there are no shatter marks from the graver running over
the facets of any diamond. Not one bit of the steel graver even
touches the stone while being cut. Can this occur with a Flat
graver? Hardly!!!

The “shattering” is basically the thick part of the flat head
glancing over the facets and it re-adjusts itself during the cutting
action…hence those ugly rippling effects.

The “Right-Sided” tool just never gets to be anywhere close to any
stone. Hence a beautiful, clean, smooth, continual cut! The cutting is
so streamlined it is almost effortless. No strain on the hand at

I also facet (again) the steel graver on the left side, as I alter
the side of the graver and it won’t even come close to the stone
while being cut on the Right-Side.

Moral of this is: It’s not only the skill of the setter, and the
graver that is cutting. It’s the result of the setter that has the
total understanding on how to navigate through so many problems.

I wish I could come to your own bench and show how this is easily

I also use the same process when I am “Pre-Cutting” that is doing
all of the cutting, prior to any sones being set. The metal is
almost…mirror smooth! Trust me!

Gerry Lewy!

Hello Janet and others:

Could some of our experienced setters comment on the workmanship
here? The setter did not appear to be in control of his graver,
and his 'exact' division of the posts seemed very uneven. 

No, it’s not perfect if you want to get that fussy, but rememer,
you’re looking at what are probably 1.7 mm stones, under pretty high
magnification. When those “posts” are finished with a beading tool,
you’re not going to see any differences. It is more important that at
the base of the cut where the grains were split, there is an equal
amount of metal dedicated to the stones on either side. The most
important issue in this kind of setting is to have the stones seated
evenly, all the tables at the same height, equal spacing, if any,
between the stones, and no “chatter” where the line was opened out.
All in all, I’d say this was excellent work. No matter how good
something is, if you get close enough, you can find fault with it.
Remember, this is hand work. You want machine perfection, you use a

David L. Huffman

Hello Janet

This sort of setting is what we used to call production line setting.
The setter becomes extremely skilled in a particular layout of
stones, all the stones are exact sizes and the item predrilled for
continuity probably by machine. There is no doubt about the
consistency and skill these crafts people achieve but they do it hour
in all day long. Grain sizes are all the same and the stones are
perfectly aligned. Only two graver types used. We used to have
benches full of such setters working all day long on production work.
I’m not decrying them but by limiting the range of skills required so
they became extremely proficient, fast and accurate. Give them a
plain piece metal, some drills and burrs and they wouldn’t know what
to do. Interesting video I will attempt to post some pictures of my
techniques, starting with marking out and drilling and opening out.


Hello all,

If stone is held by beads, you doing it wrong! If a book or a
video tells you that beads are needed to hold the stone, toss it
into the garbage. 

That’s a loud call Leonid ! I’m not into pave’s because I dislike
them more or less. I know that the technique is not easy but your
expresion in this matter will have some conseguences I think although
you’re correct. Pave setting is completly different compared with
beadsetting. Pave setting (placing) is a manner of how stones are
placed i.e. one next to another as a pattern. Beadsetting is a manner
of how to hold stones in place, to secure them. to make it more
complicated, one can use beadsetting in a pave pattern I agree with
Leonid about the skills of the stonesetter in that particular video
concerning controlling the graver. A better example of how this
technique is done and what Leonid means, can be seen in next video.

Enjoy and have fun.