How to Create a “Cut-Down” Style of Bright-Cutting Stone Setting

by Gerry Lewy on October 24, 2012

Diamond Setting, “Arte Deco” in Stone Setting and Designing!


In a catalogue of famous jewellery called “The Eye” from Salvidor Dali. He asked his diamond setter to incorporate a fanciful setting pattern, his setter did it to the artists wishes. It is called “Cut-Down Setting”! We use no beads, just little ‘hooks’ to hold the diamond!

Well my dear readers, I am to show now you just how it is done. I tried to have you follow through some text writings and a few pictures, so you get the idea on its complexity. All you need is two gravers, a Flat #40, and an Onglette graver #2. Nothing more!

My blog will enable you to see how it can be executed with much enjoyment and you will learn that this is now being forgotten…

Tools required:

  • Modified, thin Onglette #1 graver.
  • Flat Graver #39.
  • Flat Graver #40.
  • Opti-Visor #7 lenses.
  • 10x Triplet loupeand
  • Patience with a steady hand!

If you happen to view some of the “Arte Deco” era jewellery of the 1920’s, you might observe a rather novel way of setting. This alternate style of setting stones is without using any beads! Yes, you read this right, “Yes Virginia, no beads used to secure these stones”. So how is it done? Let alone being explained. If you happen to require this in some of your designs, then you could use this fantastic and artistic pattern.

This pattern is primarily used on a semi round, or “Tiffany” styled shank. This style of wedding-band has no need for bright-cutting in a line as we commonly use. The pattern has a well defined “cut away” sculptured design made with a specially created tool.

Basically there are two methods in producing this pattern. One with thinly made beads and the other in using “finely made shavings of metal” that will cover and hold the girdle the stone. We will endeavour to explain both of these methods.

Initially drill and raise your beads in a “10:30 – 1:30” and then a “7:30 – 4:30” ( clock configuration). This is a slightly different layout as you would normally do.

I ask you to leave the “table” of the stone just a tad lower than the surrounding metal. You will see why this is so important, as we will explain further. I must want the stones’ girdle to be left lower than normal, for the execution of the Bright-Cutting procedure. Once this is done, burnish over the beads. This is to have them, not only to be held in place, but more-over secured and rounded over the Crown facets of the diamond. As this is now done no more final finishing, or touching of the beads is required.

I will now explain with the help of many diagrams how the beaded technique is accomplished. Remember the “offside” beads and how they should be laid out? Do this first! Do your burnishing, pressing down on these bead “tips”, and make then look like “soldiers”. Now with your fine Onglette #1 cut around each of the beads towards the outside” of the setting as in a , /O\,,/O\,,/O\, now please refer to my picture on the cutting design!

All of these thin cuts around the beads must be used with a very thin Onglette #1, you must remove any barrel shape of the Onglette with a use on your Oil Stone. All you need is to separate the metal from the bead, at a downward, outward-angle “This is so very important”. What you have now is a piece of metal ready for shaping in the middle of these new cuts..// ~ \\ ~ // ~ \\ are you getting the picture of this idea, now?..:)

Now using your Flat graver and make VERY sure that it is sharp for cutting!!!!

Initiate each and every cut starting right at the downward separating cut you made with your Onglette graver #1..Following the curve of the girdle of the stone form and sculpture each cut so it is slightly domed and flowing around and from the stones’ girdle.

Now you can see why I asked you to lower the stone initially! If you don’t, you will not have any metal to sculpture and form. Please make little angular cuts around the diamonds girdle and starting to “cut down”.FROM the girdleare YOU getting and seeing a definite shape appear here???? Isn’t this nice looking..(smiling!). Now continue this on all the stones you just set and on both side of the Tiffany Band.

What are we to do with the metal in between the diamonds? Glad you asked? Scribe a faint square in between the two diamonds as in :O::O::O: On the second cut proceed to dig deeper and making this cut more definite. Once you have managed to achieve this deeper cut, use now your Flat graver number #39 and follow you first cut.

The appearance is to have a pyramid shaped square with NO flat top in its center! That is all four sides must merge together at the top of the square cut! Your Flat graver MUST be totally sharp and making a smooth cut! You must ’10x loupe’ all of these cuts you are making here and on the “Cut down” design.

This “Square Cutting” design is primarily used when the two diamonds are further apart in its spacing. So what do you do when the diamonds are closer together??? Very simple question and an easier answer .(thinking now)! how about using a single heavier bead? By using a heavier, or thicker bead you will occupy most of the space in between these two stones. You should remember that you will still need to separate the bead you just made with your thinner, Onglette graver #1.

Scribe a square AROUND the thick bead repeat this procedure one or two more times. This individual bead is alone and it should look like a 5-bead setting. Please burnish the tip with your burnishing toolyou are doing good now! “a real maven!”

Now come the hard part, really difficult new setting, but not using any bead-raiser. So lets just throw away from your bench this bead-raiser, no more need for it.

Obtain your Flat graver #40 and once the stones are in, say only 3-4 of them for now. Place your Flat graver along side of your stone that is still set a tad deeper, mind you.

It should be placed at this position |O| |O| and then dig this graver deep into the metal and “twist” the top part of the blade till it is scrapping a piece of metal until it is over the girdle of the stoneYou must be moving a real thick piece of metal, not too fine, but a thick wire shaped angular piece of metal. But the bottom part of the blade must still be positioned in the metal as in a pivot. You should see the twist of the blade finish like this /0\/0\. Check with a loupe that all four pieces of the metal are actually over the girdles’ edge. These should be touching the Crown facets too.

Now with this new technique you have found a rather new way of securing some diamonds in some rather difficult settings. I use this very same method of setting, in Rolex bracelets. Another difficult layout is in setting diamonds in an ‘inside curve’ in necklaces or ornamental pins, where beads are too difficult to raise.

I sincerely hope that you have learned how this Art Deco design of setting is easily accomplished. Once you try it a few times of a ‘test’ piece of silver or gold you will become quite adept at using this in any situation.”Gerry, the Cyber-Setter!”

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

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

kelly isaac September 20, 2013 at 4:03

Jeremiah, I wish you can add some pictures to your explanation for better understanding. Thank you though for explanations

Kelly Isaac April 12, 2013 at 4:03

Thank you soo much for this tutorials. But I think some more pictures might help as Guy suggested above. I will be most grateful

Jeremiah October 25, 2012 at 4:03

I find it much easier to accomplish this type of setting by marking (but not drilling) the holes for the stones. You should then put the piece sideways in shellac and start cutting away. The point of the cut outs is not only for asthetic purposes. If done correctly most of the metal will be cut away revealing the profile of the stone. This allows the light to come in from the sides of the piece which allows the stones to sparkle better and more often. I also use very tight tolerances for ex. I just fiished 6 bangles wwith this style of setting. I put 1.5-1.6 mm diamonds in 1. 8 mm metal. After polish it will finish at 1.7mm. If the “hooks” are made fine enough and the culets are touching each other you get a finished product that almost looks like the diamonds are floating in air. You dont see any metal. Very difficult time consuming work but very rewarding. Let me know if there are any questions I might be able to help you with.


Guy October 25, 2012 at 4:03

Thanks for the detailed post.
I tried to follow your instructions but I found it really hard to follow and I lost you.
If that’s not too much to ask, pictures of the stages would be very helpful.
I hope that it’s not too much overhead because I like this kind of setting and like to learn it too.
Thanks a lot!

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