Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

To drill or not to drill?

I’m constructing a sterling necklace with about 15 turquoise cabs
linked together. I’m wondering whether to drill a small pinhole in
the back each of the bezel cups so as to allow for easy removal of
the stone in case the necklace needs repairs years from now. I saw a
jeweler do this once and I thought it was a great idea at the time,
but now I’m not sure whether there would be much value-add. In fact,
I imagine gunk getting in the little holes that would be difficult to
clean out.

Any opinions?
Thanks, Jennifer

Hello Jennifer,

Avoid the holes. Gunky = stinky. If repairs are necessary, one will
gently pry the bezel away and if damage occurs, fix the bezel. Just
the way it is.

Judy in Kansas, where lots of family gathered for Thanksgiving.
Crazyness, but good stuff!

Hi jenn

A few weeks ago we have a tread about azures, it was really good and
explicative, the top jewelers of the forum were very generous in
details, I encourage you to get in the orchid archives and read the

Gustavo Suarez

Make something decorative on the back. A design that is
aesthetically pleasing and that will facilitate removal of the stone.
Just a thought…I use such a thing just to make it pretty on the
back of a piece.


Hello Jill,

I was taught that the purpose of a tiny hole in the back was more
for the purpose of being able to remove the stone while you are
fabricating the piece yourself. I have seen a lot of Native American
turquoise jewelry, and others, where there is no pinhole and the
backs looked much cleaner and nicer to me without it. I guess I
didn’t even consider the possibility of the hole being used down the
road if a repair was needed, but I guess it makes sense.

When I was shown the trick of using the really thin tape type of
dental floss to remove a stone during the fabrication process, I
stopped using a pinhole so I could have a really clean backing. I
supposed if I were to be concerned that the connections were fragile
and may need repair in years to come I might consider using a pinhole
again, but mostly I would just make sure that my connections could
withstand the test of time & wear.

(I don’t mean that to sound harsh and if it reads that way I am
sorry. Sometimes words on paper can come off differently than you
wanted to express, just because they lack the tone of voice you would
use when speaking.)

I just mean to really consider whether a design can withstand wear
and time, but I don’t design with future repairs in mind. (Does that
sound any less snobby?

Hope this helps, it’s just my opinion.

Jenn, don’t drill! If a stone needs removing in the future, the
person doing the removing can drill their own hole if needed. They
can also fill the hole by soldering in a plug or by welding before

A small hole in the back is a help during the fabrication for
seating the stones before locking them in. My guess is the jeweller
you saw was using this as a speed enhancement in the fabrication. On
occasion a stone will click in and refuse to shake out for that final
adjustment, but turquoise is not a stone to be ‘clicking’ with.

Regards, Alastair

Jewelry that is worn a lot will get gunk in it. Gunk goes in easily,
not out so easily. Cleaning is facilitated by multiple openings,
especially in the bottom of bezels where gunk will accumulate.

Make the hole, then pierce a quick little detail that decorative and
functional. The buyer will love it, and any repairperson who has to
deal with it later will bless you for it.

best regards,
Kelley Dragon

Thanks everybody for your comments! I didn’t realize that the
pinholes were also for the purpose of fitting the stones into the
cabs for setting. Anyway, I am going to refrain from drilling the
holes because the grossness of the gunk collected in the little
holes outweighs any advantage of being able to remove the stones more
easily in case the necklace needs repairs 10-20 years from now.

Thanks again, Jennifer

Teresa, your writing is not harsh. Great tip using dental floss
instead of a hole. It’s hard to remember to do the floss before
clicking a stone into the setting. It takes quite a few drillings
and pluggings to make us think of a better way.


It has never really made sense to drill a small hole in back of bezel
cup. I remember my first jewelry teacher telling us to drill holes in
bezels, but I never liked that practice, and refused to do it on my
first bezel. Why? A hole that has no purpose after stone is set?
That’s the way my mind works. If the bezel is correctly fitted around
stone before being soldered onto a backplate, there is no need to put
stone in till you are absolutely ready to set stone. I tell my
students to flip the stones upside down if they must put stone in
setting and that gives them an idea of how it will look. Of course, I
tell them one of you will push the stone in and then I have to use my
superthin burnisher to loose up bezel. It is amazing how habits die
hard. I have students who, after 4-5 decades of working in metal,
still put that darn gone hole in the bezel back. That is a very hard
habit to break people out of doing it.