Setting clients stone


This is the first time I have posted here, though I have been
lurking for years and have found a lot of very useful info and
advice here.

I have been asked by a new client to design a flush setting for some
of her own stones from her Grandmothers ring, a princess cut
Sapphire and 6 brilliant diamonds. When the client showed me the
stones I noticed and pointed out to her that there was a few small
chips in the girdle of the Sapphire. (I think she removed them from
the ring herself.) I’m not sure what to do, whether to accept or
refuse to set the stone. This is the first time I have been asked to
set a clients stones and I’m not sure what to do to cover myself in
case something goes wrong. Is the stone weakened because of the
chips? Any advice would be welcomed as I am a sole trader and don’t
want to have any problems.

Thank you for your help.


Hi, The chipped stones are definitely compromised and the policy I’ve
used for the past 11 yrs. of setting customer’s stone is… and post
it for the world to see…" All fragile stones such as chipped or
cracked stones, Emeralds, opals, Tanz. Etc. will be set at CUSTOMER’S
RISK ONLY! If they say go ahead and this is your policy, it will help
in C.Y.A! (Covering your @$%). It

does help. Hope this helps.
Steve Cowan Aristae Designs

Orla, the weight of any more chippage or breakage should be born by
the client. If it was in perfect condition then you should be
responsible. Tell then that and if they don’t want the work done,
send them on their way.

There was a thread of paying for broken stones from a trade shop’s
view and this one about taking responsibility of just setting
customer’s stones.

I had a store in Atlanta for 25 years, 75% of our income was from
custom and repair. Last year I owned it, $1.8 million in sales, 75%
from the shop. That year we did about 9000 job envelopes, all retail.

In general we took responsibility for stones we chipped or broke or
some that fell out.

Its good business and the customer expects it.

You know, Allstate gives money you money back for good driving, but
they also will pay for your damages if you get drunk and cause a
wreck. Why would they?

Its just money.

Now we wouldn’t guarantee stone loss is the item didn’t have enough
prongs, they were in good shape (worn out) and other criteria. As
example, to guarantee prong set stones:

  1. Stone must be set in AT LEAST 4 prongs. So we didn’t guarantee
    1,2 or 3 prong set stone loss.

  2. We’d guarantee only up to 1/2 ct If set in 4 prong.

  3. Over 1/2 ct must be set in 6 prongs.

  4. if over 1/2 ct and only in 4 prongs, then it must be set in

  5. if channel set, the channels must be in good shape.

But then, like Allstate, we charged well for it. In my price book to
install a 6 prong tiffany head and set a 1 carat diamond is $280.

In this thread if I thought the chips were from wear and tear, we’d
take responsibility if they broke while setting, they sound like
small stones. But we’d be charging $30 or more to set each stone.

Now talking about a trade shop. A trade shop doesn’t make but $65 an
hour so they don’t have the cash flow to guarantee stone loss or
breakage. if you send a stone or diamond to a cutter for repair they
NEVER take responsibility if it breaks/shatters on the wheel.

Jewelers in trade shops should be the same.

I tell trade shops who use my book as a courtesy and partner ship
with the retailers to be responsible for only up to the first $500,
that’s it.

David Geller

I would identify all of the broken sections to your customer
first…if you do take on the project, I would practice your setting
on a silver ring. Practicing all of the techniques ahead of time.
“Gypsy setting” is the style of setting as we call it up here in

Another point is to have your client sign a “release of
responsibility” on your behalf if these stones break further…Gerry!


I have been cutting and repairing gemstones for 38 years, and this
question does come up. Obviously, when flush setting a stone, metal
is hammered or burnished over the top edge of the stone and the
chips effectively reduce the thickness of the girdle.

Additionally, becuase the chipping is the result of percussion,
there may be additional weakness in the area. The only reasonable way
to proceed is to obtain clear and written permission from the owner,
absolving you of the consequences of any damage, or, have the stone
repaired. Girdle chipping MAY result in smaller dimensions of the

Wayne Emery

Obviously, when flush setting a stone, metal is hammered or
burnished over the top edge of the stone and the chips effectively
reduce the thickness of the girdle. 

Not to start another argument, but the description of flush setting,
while appearing intuitively correct, is inaccurate and even

What probably needs to be said is that an experienced setter can set
any stone into almost anything, while less experienced will quickly
discover that where used to be one stone, now it is two or three, but
of considerably lesser value, if any.

The mere fact that a question was raised, should be an indication
that questioner is not ready for the task yet.

Leonid Surpin

Finally I agree with Mr. Surpin…if you ask, you should definitely
not accept the job - unless your client has a signature on your
waiver for stone damages…flush/gypsy settings ain’t a “first time
and it will be perfect” feat either…precision in all aspects must
be standard in that technique wich it doesn’t sound as though you
have practiced… a note about Geller’s pricing…redo your own- his is
a bit for the high end- so use it as a guide to come to realistic
prices. if it costs 280 $ to set a big ass diamond in a 6 prong no
less tiffany setting- that seems exorbinant to our market and
shouldn’t take a good setter two hours(with or without an allset
system)…nonetheless, if you can afford to replace the damaged
stones with equally damaged stones 9 who would want that?) then sign
on…but in truth tell the client they need to be re-cut first, then
you can set them. Work out a price with a cutter/ faceter, add your
costs and commission and then if you can truly flush set…go for

The best way to become proficient at not breaking stones is to be
financially responsible for them.

If you get a signed disclaimer from the client you might be legally
off the hook but it still could come to pass that the client will
tell others, “she/he broke my stone”. The whole story behind the
incident doesn’t matter, it only matters what people hear said about
you. If you’re not at that cocktail party you can’t say anything in
rebuttal(not that rebuttal would do any good anyway). Word of mouth,
be careful with it.

Now one approach, and some may have a problem with it, is to do and
price the job with the expectation that you will have to replace the
stone. If it breaks, you’re covered, if it doesn’t you can surprise
the client with a lower job cost. Obviously there are practical
limitations. And if your estimate was too high for the client, the
problem becomes someone else’s, who may be the one taking the hit,
instead of you. Sometimes even if you lose you win.

I once had a client in my trade-shop offer me a setting job. I
totally refused, it was not the loss of a few dollars, but I did
expect many setting problems…she was surprised… I slept better
that night, it was my “gut feeling”. “Gut feeling” comes with many
years of experience.

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for the replies.

Gerry, your idea, to have my client sign a “release of
responsibility” is good.

Further damage to the stone is what concerned me and I was
considering having the client sign a photo of the damage as well, in
case of complications at some later date. Thanks

Wayne, thanks for your comments re getting the stone re cut.

Over the weekend I have been thinking about this commission.

My gut feeling is there is something not 100% about this. Their
reaction when I pointed out the damage was a bit off and on
reflection, their questions regarding the insurance value of the
finished item seemed over stressed.

They are meant to contact me this week, as it’s a present for their
daughters 18th and they want me to meet her before I design it.

I think I’ll suggest that they get the stone recut and valued
independently before I accept the job if I do accept it.

Thanks for all your advice.

Some years ago I was working in a very fast paced high-end trade shop
and here is a good story for you all.

I was asked to remove a 1.50 carat Princess diamond for another
mass-retailer here in Toronto. I always make it my effort to examine
ever big diamond that comes to my bench. Well this one stone had 4
worn down claws and had to be remounted. As it was on a Friday,
everyone was rushed to get items ready for delivery for end of the

I examined the top of the stone, the 4 girdles, the facets just
above the girdle. Now came the Pavillion, ooops! My gut feeling came
into full swing, lets look again. My supervisor said “Good grief
Gerry, how long does it take to taken out that stone, hurry up

I just ignored him, and kept looking at this $10,000.00 diamond. I
examined the Pavillion and again, something was not right with the
reflection of bouncing back light from the facets in one corner. So I
turned the ring upside down and gave it a closer look…ta-da!

Here was the problem, a broken stone hidden against the inside of the
"vee-shaped" claw. That facet was actually separated from the rest of
the diamond!!! The previous setter knew he broke it, and did

If I took out the diamond and discovered the breakage, I would be
liable for re-cutting and loss of stone weight in $$$. Not too mention
the trade-shop would involved in an insurance claim. Upon viewing
this stone, all work ceased*, the retail store was told, the owner
was eventually informed…all because a setter had “gut feelings”.

Gerry Lewy

Unless the client can provide a certificate for the stone I always
make them sign something. Fortunately, I have never has to test
whether the disclaimer will work - it is a tricky area.

Most of us are not gemologists and client’s do seem to have an
exaggerated view of the value of ‘Grannie’s old diamond’!

Imogen Waitt
Imogen Shafto Design
Designers and Makers of Contemporary Jewellery

Maybe it should be pointed out that liability waivers can be, and
have been, successfully challenged in court.

I don’t know the stone in question here and its all relative to
that. If its a $300 stone just eat it if you have to. If its $30,000
stone and you’re afraid of it, bow out. I wouldn’t stake my financial
security on someone else’s problem.

My own philosophy that has so far worked.

get used to this 6 worded phrase, ready? “when in doubt,… don’t do
it!”… who needs the hassle and aggravation… Gerry!