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Stone-setting in French



This is my first posting on Ganoksin - hopefully I’m following the
right procedure! I’m reading a text about stone-setting in French and
a couple of terms are unfamilar to me. Firstly, the stone-setter says
the pieces to be set arrive “deje mitraillee” - this literally means
they’ve already been “machine gunned”! I’m guessing it means
"drilled" (the person goes on to explain it means the position of
each stone has already been defined or marked). Am I guessing right?

My second question concerns the word “filet” - again, literally this
means a thread. The setter explains how he starts by working his
"outer thread" (“filet exterieur”) and notes this requires a certain
strength! He specifies it has to be the same depth throughout. After
this he starts drilling (“mitrailler”) to the diameter of the stone.

I’ll be truly grateful to anyone who can explain these two stages to

Best regards
Sandra Petch
Paris, France

ps I can generally help out with French/English jewellery terminology
should anyone need assistance.


Hi Sandra,

As I’m sure you know French can rarely be translated literally :slight_smile: I
have only seen these terms used in machine preparation (as in
quantities) of precious stones for several large jewelry companies
here. In fact you may know of Multistation in Paris that sells
manufacturing equipment to jewelers. They could explain this process
to you in detail if you would be interested.

Beth Thompson


In Europe, they call bead-setting with bright cutting "Threadwork"
or “threading”. The bright cuts being the threading. I can’t help you
with the rest of it, though. is the
best online translator, but I suspect your problem is more of the
meanings than the words themselves…


Hi Sandra - From your description it sounds like pave work.
Mitraille can also mean peppered, given that, I would take it to mean
the metal is already drilled or perhaps “layed out” as in where the
stones are to be placed. I would say you’ve guessed right. Thread
work refers to pave and for details see “Metalwork & Enamelling”
(publ 1971)by Herbert Maryon pp.76 -78, published by Dover. If your
first language is English Maryon’s book might be helpful. Mitraille
seems an odd term since he goes on to mitraillee = to the diameter
of the stone.

Recently NHK the Japanese TV company did a great program called
"Masters of Time" about a couple of Swiss watchmakers. In one section
it shows someone doing pave setting using very tiny diamonds. This
program, if you can view it especially the pave part of the watch
case, would be the best answer to your question.

Kevin Kelly



My grandparents were German and French Swiss, so, sans dictionaire
and leaning on my grandfather Charles (i.e. Sharl), mitraillee sounds
like melee, i.e a packet of small stones. As to mitrailler - is there
an accent grave or something else ? Perhaps pave setting ? Are there
diagrams ?



The Filet refers to the bright cut. Threading I believe refers to
single row bead work(ps all “bead work” is single row)the other
definitions such as peppered I think are accurate. Any Hooo hope that
helps. I am available off line if I can be of assistance. Raising for
the past 30 years



As regards the stone setting in French questions and the accents for
the words. Those accents… if they belong… would be acute
accents… or accents aigus. This question brings back many fond
memories as French was my mother tongue and I was raised in the
French speaking part of Switzerland, a little place called Port de
Puilly on the outskirts of Lausanne. Hope this helps somewhat. As a
little Tidbit in this regard… does anyone know how to say 70,80,
and 90 in Swiss French? That would be Septante, Huitante, and
Neunante… far more intelligent than the French way I think. Forgive
the spelling if it’s off. I’m not using a dictionary.

Benjamin Mark


Hello Brian,

mitraillee sounds like melee, i.e a packet of small stones. As to
mitrailler - is there an accent grave or something else ? Perhaps
pave setting ? Are there diagrams?" 

Here it is in French accents and all!

“Nous recevons une piece sertir qui est deje mitraillee,
c’est–dire l’emplacement de chaque pierre a ete prealablement
defini. Ensuite nous allons commencer par tracer pour pouvoir faire
nos filets. L, je suis en train de tracer mon filet exterieur, comme
on peut le constater a demande une certaine force. Puis nous allons
commencer mitrailler en fonction du diametre des pierres. Apres nous
allons commencer par faire nos filets, degager de la matiere pour
pouvoir faire ressortir les grains.”

No diagrams. In fact it’s a stone-setter talking about his or her
work. And I should have said from the outset, he or she is setting
stones in a watch (probably around the dial).

I’m totally thrown by the fact he/she says the workpiece is already
"mitraillee" but then says they “mitrailler” according to the
diameter of the stone (which makes me think they are cutting the
seat for the stone).

Thank you if you or your grandpere can shed any light on this.

Best regards


Many thanks and merci for answering my question. Thanks to your help
I think I have got to the bottom of this.

My view is that “mitrailler” is being used in two different ways.
When the stone-setter says the piece is “deje mitraille” I have
concluded it is “already laid out”. When he uses “mitrailler” a
second time I believe he is referring to flaring the pilot holes. And
as so many of you pointed out, filet is thread/bright cut and the
whole text is about a bright cut bead setting. Newman’s Illustrated
Dictionary also refers to a “thread and grain setting.”

Hopefully I’ll be able to help out with French/English terminology
to pay back my debt :wink:



Hi Sandra,

I was very curious about this and called Multistation in Paris, they
speak English as well. They explained that mitrailler is the process
of making small holes or half holes for setting stones or for other
things. It is done with a small gunlike machine that shoots balls
that then make the impression in the material. She also said it was
used in leather work.

Beth Thompson


Well, Benjamin, then what’s your translation ? My folks were from

Well, Benjamin, then what's your translation ? My folks were from

Oy… to use an old French expression. My converstational French is
rather fluent. My technical French could use some help. However… I
consider this a challenge. Give me till the end of the weekend… and
I’ll get back to you.



mitrailler - according to my Swiss student, has to do with center
punching the layout for the holes…



Okay Brian,

Well, Benjamin, then what's your translation ? My folks were from

Here’s the best I could do. Let me take you along the path I trod
today. I first called all my French speaking friends in the jewelry
business in New York. The best I got out of them was Hunh? But I
have a cousin in Antwerp. I was raised in Switzerland but born in
Antwerp. Mitrailler, I said to her. You know what that means? But of
course, she said. It means to shoot someone with a machine gun. We
talked some more and then hung up after having sent love to our
respective families. So… I went to my Larousse. And here’s what I

Mitrailler: Literally to Machine Gun, to mow down, to pepper with
machine gun fire. No accents here.

Mitraille: Single final “e”. Small pieces of metallic shot.

Mitraillee: Acute accent over the first “e”. Here I have to
extrapolate it to mean: Having been peppered with shot. Example" Il a
ete mitraillee avec a bloody machine gun. Alas… even the Larousse
does not have the word Mitraillee. For that one I had to go on line.

To extrapolate further… I would venture to guess–and I’m only
guessing–that Mitrailler is a form of finishing… not unlike
sandblasting… perhaps coarser. I read the other posts on this…
and my fellow jewelry folks may well have a better handle on this
than I.

So there it is… and I end my tale here. Think I’ll go watch an old
Humphrey Bogart film and watch while he Mitraillers his enemies to

Best wishes,
Benjamin Mark