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Van Cleef jewellery invisible setting


Hello everyone !

I need some as to how to invisible set those lovely
drops one sees in Van Cleef jewellery and more recently seen in
merchandise coming out from Bangkok The ones in which the stones are
set all around and no metal is seen at all

We have been setting some plain invisible bands in hand and wax set
but we have never worked on any of these fancy shaes and figures.

What are the things one needs to look out when attempting to make
them. and what kind of labour and weight loss and breakage if any is
to be factored in the costing for the same.

Pragnesh Zaveri


Dear Pragnesh,

I am not sure that my response to your post is what you are looking
for, but I will offer it anyway.

Please never use name Van Cleef & Arpels in the same sentence with
merchandise coming out from Bangkok. I am not associated with the
company in any way, but it is insulting never the less.

As far as invisible setting. You cannot approach this technique if
you concern about economic factors you mentioned in your post.
Invisible setting is not suitable for production, it is the most
exacting, the most difficult technique in jewellers repertoire and
it’s use should be reserved to those who are willing to invest as
much time as required to achieve the quality standards one can
observe in the work of Van Cleef and Arpels.

Leonid Surpin.


Hi there

I didn’t see the original post, but I’m curious to know exactly how
Van Cleef and Arpels invisible setting is different from the other
"run of the mill" things I’ve seen. The ones I’ve seen have a groove
cut in the bottom of the princess (and now I’m seeing round diamonds)
to snap into a grid. Is there a different approach? Also, I’d love to
learn how to reset these settings if anybody knows of a good link or
could shed some light I’d be greatful. Btw, I work with a microscope
and have a laser welder in my shop. I havent had much luck rebuilding
the grid after a stone fell out though.

Stanley Bright



Duplicating a Van Cleef and Arpels invisible-set drop or any other
piece of theirs is probably out of the question for you. Your concern
about breakage and cost is a dead give away. To make those pieces you
need to have a total disregard for time and cost. The last that I
heard: Van Cleef and Arpels were accomplishing 2 pieces a year.

Briefly I can tell you that a jewel at this level is very difficult
to create. First you have to accumulate the all
exceptional material, then as you cut them to fit their colour may
change and you will discard a lot. You will need a strategic plan for
how the gems and metal work are going to fit together, sort of a 3
dimensional undulating tension-set jigsaw puzzle. The design and
assembly plan can be very complicated. In the best pieces the sizes
of the gemstones graduate, grow and twist so that the piece has a
feeling of life. Then you need to start building, fitting the rails
and cutting the gemstones to match the metal work as the project
progresses. The master jeweller and Lapidary need to work side by
side as a team for months as each piece grows. There are so many
things involved, it takes a lot of experience and intelligence to
succeed in creating a unique world class invisibly set jewel. They
are truly rare jewels and worth every dollar that they get at auction
or otherwise. There is a good reason why very few people duplicate
the effort. The Aletto Brothers are the only other ones who come to

The pieces that you see from other sources are not the same, shapes
are simpler to construct, the holding or rail structure is usually
different and the gemstones are usually less then ultimate colour.
Some of these firms are doing very impressive work in large
quantities. There are tools and techniques for this work and I’m sure
that someone will point you to them, but you will not get to the same
level as Van Cleef and Arpels or the Alettos unless you devote a huge
amount of time, money and passion to the enterprise.

Usual the gemstones are set from little to big so I expect that the
drops are made in two or more parts, keyed and pulled together
mechanically by a long screw, but I’ve never had one in my hands so I
could be wrong. It’s conceivable that you could concentrate on simple
designs and perfect them for repetitious production.

By the way, commercially made invisibly set rings with more then two
rows of stones are notorious for losing the gems and diamonds set in
them. You might find it very frustrating dealing with returns and

Dennis Smith - thejewelmaker


The difference is how well stones fit together. Van Cleef can do
complex surfaces and there will be no metal visible anywhere. Most
other stuff you can see metal here and there, tables would be at
different levels, corners will be misaligned. It is exactly the same
like judging quality of the pave’. Most everybody can do it, but how
many can do it really well?

As far as rebuilding the setting: The way stone is set, it is
positioned on the sharp edge of the grid opening. When downward force
is applied it caused sharp edges to deform and fill the grooves below
the girdle. The precision requirement are very high. Most of the
problems comes from incorrect depth of the grove; incorrect distance
from the girdle to the grove; grid opening is too small or too big
and When stone falls out, it is because the edges of the grid opening
did not deformed correctly to hold the stone in place, or the groves
were not properly cut. You can try to rebuild the edge of the opening
and try to reset the stone, but it more easily said than done.

Leonid Surpin

I didn't see the original post, but I'm curious to know exactly
how Van Cleef and Arpels invisible setting is different from the
other "run of the mill" things I've seen. 

Stanley, the original post asked about the high-end stuff Van Cleef
does. Flowers, briolette type things, flowing arcs and curves. Very
sophisticated work, not just the three row rings many people put
out. As for repairing it - I’m certainly no expert at it, but it
takes just the right stone to begin with, and often the rails need
to be detached and reattached - other than that it depends on the
individual job, like all repair work.


Greetings Orchid,

I thought I might touch base regarding this thread as I worked at
Oscar Heyman and Bros.They are the company that perfected the
invisible set jewelry that helped make Van Cleef who they are.

First off you should know that no corner is cut and no step is
spared in the creation of fine jewelry at OHB.

The invisible stuff is accomplished with every stone being cut to
fit a hand fabricated wire work frame of Platinum. Every stone is cut
in house from the same rough.The match is perfect. The cutters are in
house and they will cut the stones by hand to slide into the channels
of metal sort of like a tongue and groove style. The stones taper as
the piece has movement and the tables will taper as well. So when you
look at the rows of invisibly set stones they flow seamlessly. This
jewelry is simply breathtaking and should in no way be confused with
the junk we all see that ends up in the bottom of our sonics. Now I
know many other people today manufacture invisible stuff and I am
sure that there are some folks who do a good job but My guess is that
not many are any where close to what is produced at OHB



One source you may look into is the Foredom Company’s “AllSet Master
Kit” and the attachments most relevant to your equipment that help
you create precise cuts, settings, milling, etc. The system is
excellent, the time it takes to get used to setting it up is well
worth the investment as the speed and accuracy it assists you in
developing that is recouped in the quality of workmanship and time
saved at the bench particularly in advanced, or harder than average
tasks like invisible setting, and the retail pricing that follows
the kind of precision work possible… I will look through my
collection of books this evening, as i remember seeing an article
that would compliment mechanical assistance of a kit like the Allset,
and on its own provides pretty detailed discussion and instruction on
invisible settings…so look for it in the next few days off Orchid as
I will send the link to a synopsis or related from the
chapter -as soon as I remember where I saw it! -to your yahoo
address. Anyway, it can be done, anyone can learn it, it requires a
lot of trial and error regardless of mechanized assistance or hand
making the settings…but if you want it ad enough it will come…who
knows, it could be your niche! R.E.Rourke


Yeah… just what I want to do. Detach and reatach the rails. I’m
definately not comfortable doing that. The last time I ran into this,
I had trouble getting into the square hole and trimming the grid to
that nice triangular shape. I saw somewhere they were doing it with a
round bur held straight up and down to form the right edge. The
problem I ran into was holding the bur at exactly the right andgle to
flow with the contour of the ring while maintaing the proper depth
for the groove. Lasering some metal down from the top with the
dimaond in place was out of the question-- I didn’t want to zap the
diamonds. The nice thing with the laser was that I was able to get a
lot of do-overs til I got it half right. Not a fun job.

Stanley Bright

Stanley, the original post asked about the high-end stuff Van
Cleef does. Flowers, briolette type things, flowing arcs and
curves. Very sophisticated work 

Ok, yeah I know what you mean. I’ve seen LeVian stuff like that.
Namely a huge Rose pin and a Lobster. Amazing work.

Stanley Bright