Channel Setting Tutorial – Setting Without Claws

by Gerry Lewy on September 24, 2012

This essay can only be described as setting stones with out any form of claws. It is definitely one of the cleanest forms of setting used!

I prefer to use photographs to ensure that you fully understand how this is achieved…

Channel Setting Tutorial – Setting Without Claws

Channel Setting is a means of displaying a diamond in an opening for the sole purpose of “Setting Without Claws”.

This procedure is relatively easy in the execution by the diamond
and gemstone setter. The setter should have the knowledge of general setting protocols. The whole effect is to have the girdles of the stones almost touching! It is also customary to set Channel Setting with the aide of ‘setting stones in wax’, either way the results are very eye-appealing. When the stones are set in wax, it very difficult to “pre-polish”. Therefore, stone setting in metal is greatly acceptable, pre-polishing is impossible once the stones are set! If you are hammering stones while they are touching, you might just maybe hit one stone then its neighbour will give lots of stress to the next stone and you could could now break both. That is why I prefer to have all stones sitting just slightly apart!

I prefer that all channels be clean of any basic polishing compounds.

Here are some of the tools that need to be available for the procedure!

  1. Copper, or a Brass metal pusher!
  2. Pillar file, 20cms. #2 cut!
  3. Triangular file, 20 cm #4 cut!
  4. Undercutting bur, a.k.a. #156C! Sizes will be explained!
  5. Round burs, size will be explained!
  6. Metal ring clamp! Ring should be virtually tight!
  7. Light-weight hammer!
  8. Pumice wheels, #180 grit. “Flat” design!
  9. Sanding disk, “medium grade” ONLY!
  10. 10x power loupe!
  11. Above all… Patience!

I prefer to have my ring secured in a tight ring clamp. I don’t want my ring to ‘wander around and slip’ while setting any stones.

First of all, I must observe are the original ring holes about 80% of the size of the intended stone. I will now get a round bur and attempt to clean out that hole. I must make positively sure that there are not extra little pieces of gold inside the walls, why? When I am setting the stone any little piece of gold will squeeze on the stone and literally break it. This will occur when the channel wall is closing down on the stone! Inspect the results with your loupe!!! I also want the hole to be completely round, not oval! This might occur during the removal of the soft injectable wax from the rubber mold.

Which stone do we set first? If the ring has 5 settings or even 7 holes for setting, we will set the centre hole first, why? From this centre hole, we will at increments set from the centre and work ourselves outward. When completed, if there is any space at the end of the setting we can push over the ‘ends’ to close any gap.

Please remember that the stones must be sitting almost “girdle to girdle”!
Now what? Here comes the actual bearing cut and setting process!

Please locate a bearing-cutter a.k.a. #156C that is at least 50% that of the size of the stone to be set. Don’t find a bur that will interfere with both of the channel walls at the same time. No stone will be at the bottom of the wall, the stone will not sit there. The pavilion is to be sitting in the hole and the girdle will sit ‘above’ the base of the setting. This is what we are looking for, at this spot is where we will make a bearing cut! Make a cut into the wall, and it must only be a slight indentation, we only want the girdle to sit at this spot, nowhere else!

The indentation cut must not be too far into the wall or the stone will just never get secured tightly!!! I want that stone to have it’s “Crown Facets” in and against the channel wall…now use your 10x power loupe to examine what you now have cut! Is the bearing cut straight or crooked, if it is slightly out of alignment, so will the stone. It will only follow what you cut, You just won’t be able to straighten the stone if the cutting is crooked. Now try and place that stone into the setting.

I’d use a Brass or Copper pusher to put the stone into the ring.

We are going to attempt to hammer the stone lightly and tightly into its new resting place! To securely tap the stone, please put the ring with the newly set stone on a steel ring mandrel. If you use a leather ring clamp, the leather will absorb all of the powerful hitting. Once you hit the channel walls while on the steel mandrel, you will notice all of the metal now sitting on the stone, tightly!

I prefer to file the sides of the walls at a 45 degree angle, it is here you will be hitting the channel walls. I’d be using a Pillar file #2 only!

When you are hitting the channel wall, do not hit straight down at 90 degrees, why? You might hit the “Table” facets and break the stone. Proceed onwards till all of the stones are tightly secured. Now comes the final filing and trimming of the Channel Walls.

Once the stones are virtually tight and not moving, we can file with your Pillar file. I use my hammer and tap all of the previous hitting spots till the two walls are smooth. I’d ask you to get your Triangular file and trim the inside of the two walls.

Now you can smooth with your Sanding disks and then use you Pumice wheels top nicely feel the surface of the ring. Make very sure that there are no more rough spots to contend with. I prefer to have the Channel Walls left thick while they are over the stone. This will allow the Tripoly & Rouge polishing and continual usage of the ring for the client. You are now finished!

The difficulty level is about a 5+ out of a possible 10!…Gerry Lewy!


Gerry Lewy

Gerry Lewy

With over 42 years experience as a stone setter, Gerald N. Lewy, president of Gemz Diamond Setting, is known throughout the diamond setting community as 'Gerry the Cyber-Setter'. Gerald Lewy started his 9-year apprenticeship with a jewellery manufacturer and tutored by a gentleman 'setter', in Haddon Gardens, London England. Gerald has redeveloped himself into more than a master setter; his purpose is now to be a teacher of the art as well. If you have any questions on Diamond / Stone Setting you can contact him through this blog

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