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Practice & still more basic practicing!

Before you sit down and attempt to copy some of my Bright-Cutting projects, there is one big problem. How many weeks, months or maybe years, have you been ‘practicing’ using a graver?

In this interesting essay on 'practicing’ , you will surely find out what my formative years were on the bench and what it involved. I’ve prepared a list of mini-topics you should be very concerned with.

This ‘Scale of Difficulty’ is about a "7.5 out of 10!"

  1. What metal should I practice on? For these basic learnings processes, I’d stay with silver, as this is an easy metal to work with and very forgiving if you make a little mistake. Brass is too darned hard to cut and navigate around the beads, not to mention trying to Bright-Cut. “OUCH!”

  2. How am I to hold the ‘demo-sample’? You can hold this item at any angle you need, just remember your fingers must be able to move the graver of your choice. I prefer to have my graver as near as possible to the edge of the ‘wooden stick’ as I need 100% access to the metal for cutting.

  3. What clamps should I use and why? I use a shellac stick that will hold ‘securely’ any item that I need to be easy to hold for many hours and not to move.

3-a) The ’ pin vise ’ is too cumbersome for long setting periods, as it is quite heavy @ 191.3gm’s just
to keep lifting it against the bench-peg. My fingers & hand must not have any need to 'climb over the pin vise’ , just to gain access to the ‘demo-piece’.

3-b) The screw on the side can be so very irritating just to navigate while doing some Bright-cutting. It just interferes ( ouch!) with my right-hand when holding my gravers. The little (holding) pins can destroy or mark some on the side metal…:>(


My fingers can wrap around the wooden stick with the greatest of ease, as I have now no other protruding piece of metal (tightening turning screw) hurting my fingers. The wooden shellac stick (my preference) weighs only 62.1 gm’s.

When the shellac is heated and the melted “Flake Shellac” semi-liquifies and it literally sticks and then hardens to your ‘demo-practice’ item. To remove the shellac, I drop the slightly heated item into 'Methyl Hydrate". After 1/2 hour, all of the shellac is dissolved into the solution. So easy to use!!!

  1. What tools should I use & why? As shown below, I’d stay with the Onglette & Flat gravers !

  2. Ergonomics & why is this so important? Always sit in a chair that has armrests. During the long engraving & cutting sessions, your arms do get tired and your elbow can rest on that attached arm-rest even while continuing your Bright-Cutting.

  3. What magnifying “Opti-Visor” lens should I wear? I use two lenses, #5 & a #7 , depending on the intensity of your Bright-Cutting!!!

  4. When should I do my practicing; morning or afternoon? I start my “setting” mornings off at 8:00 a.m.and slacken off by 2-3:00 p.m. The brain actually gets tired from the intense cutting & very ‘creative’ thinking.

What are the basic selection of gravers to use; these can be very useful in other engraving situations. I prefer only 2, Onglette gravers ; #1 & #2, plus my favourite Flat graver #40.


The thickness of the cutting section of this graver is quite narrow, it’s a mere 0.45mm’s.


Here are my two gravers that I used here , as you can see you have just one decision to make which graver to use? In my opinion, I’d stay with the thin graver, as it has a greater opportunity in carving very delicate areas.


Now you can observe the greatly modified & extensively trimmed Onglette #1. I keep my “Bench-Grinder” and “Oil-Stone” working non-stop, as I’m refining the cutting edge of my gravers continually.


I use my Burnishing Tool, but what size? My answer will be a burnishing tool that is just a size larger than the bead you are wanting for ‘round off’!


As I am now dealing with engraving in very tight spaces up close photo’s show all kinds of some “unnecessary” cuts. The width of the engraving area shown here is 3.75mm’s by 2.19mm’s.

Inside of each square, I used my (very thin) Onglette #1! I cut two cross-lines…thus making each square now with 4 mini-squares! This #1 graver is only 0.31mm’s in width as this allows the greatest of ease in the delicate cutting…Nice pattern? I leave no surface areas untouched by my flat graver!


As you can now see there are no flat areas remaining that need to be faceted with your Flat graver. I even faceted the very tip of the mini-new squares. Every top of those new ‘square tips’ must have a reflecting surface.


From a distance of only a few feet , the ‘observer’ cannot just tell how many gemstones there are in the silver circle. That alone is the main reason for all of this creative Bright-cutting. (You might need some sunglasses under the direct sunlight just to see the multitude of cuttings)… :>)


If anyone says that this ‘cutting session’ is difficult this might be a little true. After a few intense cutting sessions, this exercise will become easy and be like ‘second-nature’ to you!

In my next group of demo-essays , I’ll be further discussing how to grind & further modify the graver to allow such easy cutting just like being shown above.

BTW, in all of Toronto and the multitude of Diamond Setters, there are not too many who can execute this kind of creative Bright-Cutting, pity!

Gerry Quite a few years ago now I got your then package on setting and some gravels both have been invaluable. (I had Canadians on holiday next door and they took the cash back to pay you.)

I teach one to one jewellery techniques and I get students with honours degrees who can’t saw, file or solder never mind set stones or use gravels.
it breaks my heart that my profession is being degraded like this.
Thank you for all you are doing to teach proper skills.
Regards Robin Key (in Scotland)

Dear Gerry
How utterly wonderful it is to open the daily email alerts to read a post like yours . I am going to stick my hand up for one of your wonderful videos.
I made a promise to myself that this year would be the year I learn how to set stones . I have a lot of Sapphires , Opals, Garnets and Quartzs that I have bought and also been given. I just have to learn how to set them. I have not succeeded yet but I keep going. .
I have set myself up with torch fired enamel as my "cool off " project . (Seem to spend bit more time torch fireing recently)
My email is :disappointed_relieved:

Sorry keyboard jumped. Email : Thank you :upside_down_face:

I would enjoy reading what you have wrote or collected.

Andy “The Tool Guy” Kroungold
Director Tool Sales & Stuller Bench
Stuller Inc.
P 1-800-877-7777 ext 4191 or 4194

THANK YOU so much for generously sharing your precious knowledge! My email address is:

Hi Gerry,

Thank you for the generous offer! My email address is :

Thank you for the generous offer. My email is:

Thank you for sharing your knowledge! My email is

Thank you, Gerry, for your generous offer. My email is I will screw up my courage and finally learn diamond setting. I know your lifetime of experience can teach me what I need to know. Blessings to you

Gerry: Once again, I would love the setting information as with the engraving. I will also be looking up your videos.

Thanks again,


what a wonderful observation and a generous offer from, I think, the love of jewelry making and the desire to tell others what you know and have learned over the years. Bravo!! thank you so much:

So kind of you to share! I would love to see your techniques!

Hi Gerry,
Would love the setting information as well. Email is

Gerry, please put my email on the list. I’m very thankful for your
information. I taught myself some setting techniques, but i still have a
lot to learn.
Lots of love from Brazil! Sorry about my bad english.
Yours truly,
José Sperancini.

Gerry, I also would appreciate receiving your engraving information.

I would also love to receive your information Gerry!

I would love you information! Thanks for sharing.
FYI, I took an amazing stone setting three day( as I recall) workshop with Blaine Lewis. He is a great teacher and yes! We use gravers!!

Hi Gerry,

First I would like to say thank you for sharing. My email adress is
Much appreciated