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Setting Tanzanite tips


My grandson has bought two oval cabochons of tanzanite, saying he
will call here on his way home from University next month, as he
wants me to ‘help’ him set them for a pair of earrings for his
girlfriend in America, where he is going in a few weeks. ( he’s got
a place in Perdue)

Problem is I have no experience with tanzanite, and have only seen
photos of my grandson’s stones and they look rather drusy. I have
seen numberless warnings as to how fragile and easily broken they
are, so I don’t fancy using bezel settings, where setting pressure
may crack them. I wouldn’t drill them either, as that would weaken
them further. I think he would be reasonably happy having to use
epoxy for setting if I explain the reason, but I would like some
suggestions, please. Getting a wee bit old for delicate stones!!

Cheers for now,
JohnB of Mapua, Nelson NZ

    My grandson has bought two oval cabochons of tanzanite. . .
Problem is I have no experience with tanzanite 

G’day yourself, John;

Well, since they’re cabochons, a lot of risks are minimalized. With
faceted stones, the facet junctures are points at which pressure can
fracture the stone, and facet junctures are easier to scratch or
round off with too vigorous polishing. Avoid Tripoli. Easy on the
rouge too. I might suggest 22K gold bezels, or even what we used to
call “gallery wire” which is a decorative bezel that is perforated
with a decoration, so it’s real easy to bend inward. Sort of like
the serrated bezels some Native American silverwork uses, only
fancier. And if you had many thin prongs, as opposed to a fewer
number of thicker ones, these would be easy to lean inward onto the
stone. Thing to remember is, at the base of the cabochon there is
an edge, and you must clear that edge, as that would be about the
only area you would need to be inordinately worried about putting
pressure on. You could also think up a “back set” design, wherein
the stones enter tapered bezels or openings from behind and are kept
pressed in with prongs leaned onto the back of the stone. Best of

David L. Huffman

Hello Orchidland, All of us have benefitted from John’s knowledge and
wisdom. Is there a New Zealander Orchidian close to John who could
look at the stones, and perhaps set them for him??

Personally I think we should declare John Burgess an Orchid
Treasure, much as the Japanese recognize their masters of various
arts and skills as National Treasures.

Just my US$.02, Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944

John, I have set tanzanite with both prong settings and bezels. I
would say that you are safer using a 4 or 6 prong setting than a
bezel. In either case you do have to be careful, it is fragile stuff.
I would stay away from just epoxy. It won’t help the appearance of
the stones and I wouldn’t trust it over a period of time. Joel

Joel Schwalb

My grandson has bought two oval cabochons of tanzanite... 

G’Day, John! I know you like to use the resources you have at hand,
but this might be the time to ring up a supplier. I would suggest
looking into some “sawtooth” bezel. You didn’t indicate whether
you’re thinking gold or silver, but fine silver or 22k gold would be
ideal. They burnish over like butter, and the little sawteeth act as
little fingers, especially on irregular or drusy-type stones.
Consider using a plastic burnisher, such as an old toothbrush

P.S. Advise your grandson to avoid American gals… nothin’ but
trouble! :wink: Only kidding ladies!

All the best,


Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio
Charlotte, NC (USA)

G’day; thank all those of your who you for replying to my query;
your suggestions and ideas will all be carefully considered, but i
still don’t quite know what I am going to guide Andrew (grandson) to
do. I shall probably opt for a fine silver backless bezel setting.
amd perhaps filing out little serrations in the bezel - I have
plenty of fine bezel wire, and don’t want to buy anything more.

I tried replying individually, but there seemed to be some sort of
messup, so here we go again

Cheers for now,
JohnB of Mapua, Nelson NZ