Almost Forgotten Gemstone Setting Tips for Everyone

by Gerry Lewy on December 24, 2012

Here are some new innovative gemstone setting tips developed from old setting methods:

  • resharpen the high-speed steel setting burr
  • create a diamond receptacle for benches and desktops
  • use the half-round burr for Cabochon bezel frames
  •  remove excess gold beside claws in engagement four-claw settings
  • clean customer’s diamonds with embedded dirt
  • place an oil receptacle permanently on your bench

Resharpen the High-Speed Steel Setting Burr
Tool maintenance is a constant requirement of the stone setter’s craft. A threadbare burr can be rejuvenated using a separating disk, also known as a carborundum wheel. Allow the wheel to grind away the teeth at the widest point of the old burr, carefully, one at a time. Maintain the same angle throughout this process to redefine the worn teeth and return them to their original purpose.

Create a Diamond Receptacle for Benches and Desktops
Table leg protectors make excellent diamond receptacles for the setter’s bench. Home furnishing stores offer a wide selection of tiny rubber pads edged with a wide lip. The ribbed surface variety makes stone retrieval difficult whereas the smooth, flat, inner surface variety works best. Glue a selection of five such trays (the table leg protectors) to the bench in layout fashion along the edge. Ready-toset stones are rarely confused with others when separated in this manner.

Use the Half-Round Burr for Cabochon Bezel Settings
This tool must be made by the setter and is unavailable in any supply house. Use a large size round burr for the purpose of bezel setting. The objective is to create the inner walls of the frame in a semi-concave configuration to match the same indentation of the Cabochon stone. Considerably less hammering is required, potentially saving the delicate stone.
The resulting design is shown here: ===O, to a finished tool shape of ===( .
Here’s how to create this modified tool.

  1. Place a #40 round burr in a hand-held pin-vise for safety. Keep hands and fingers free of the bench grinding wheel.
  2.  Slowly, and with plenty of water at the ready, rotate the tip of the burr and start grinding off the top of the burr.
  3. Keep rotating the burr and keep it wet with several litres of water. Grind off the tip to the mid-point, or the widest portion of the round burr.

Do Not Overheat – Discard the Tool if Necessary
Overheating the tool during formation may hinder the tool’s main objective: to cut and remain sharp. This new tool is designed to prepare a seat for the edge of the Cabochon stone. To transfer the stone’s curved surface to the bezel frame, use a very large round burr. A good selection, of up to a dozen or more, is recommended.

Remove Excess Gold in Engagement Four-Claw Settings
Using a #40 flat graver, complete the following steps.

  1. Sharpen the graver’s cutting edge.
  2. Place that edge just a little above the “>” of the bearing cut.
  3. With a slow, deliberate, downward motion cut right to the base of the claw.

Now observe three things: no filing has taken place, there is little need for polishing, and the angled edge of the bearing cut appears very bright. This will create a finished surface for light to bounce off the pavilion of the diamond. Do not be tempted to use a triangular file. Even a #4 triangular file, will leave a roughened surface.

How to Clean Customer’s Embedded Dirt
Probably the most unsanitary job of any jeweller is to remove the accumulated dirt from a customer’s jewellery. Either place the entire mounting into an ultrasonic cleaner or clean the individual stones and the setting. It is also possible to clean large diamonds by hand. In the palm of the hand, mix with an abrasive such as cigarette ash, and rub the stone with vigor. In a few short moments the diamond will sparkle clean!

Place an Oil Receptacle Permanently on Your Bench
Look in the hardware section for old-style fuses with a glass cover.

  1. Remove the metal base, being careful not to break the glass.
  2. Remove the inside attachments.
  3. Place a tiny piece of cloth in the glass and add oil.
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
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

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Marilyn Cook December 18, 2015 at 4:03

Gerry, Thanks so much for all your contributions. You are a true gem!

Kat Mac March 24, 2013 at 4:03

Thanks Gerry for sharing your Knowledge and expertise. As a relative beginner, any information on the vast field of jewellery is greatly appreciated.

Eva Nedergard January 31, 2013 at 4:03

Thanks for all tips.
They will improve my work and make my day more fun.

georg December 25, 2012 at 4:03

I like to mixx oil with bee wax, than you don´t need the cloth …
and I fix a magnet under the “oil pott” to stick it where I want to…next to the hole´s I have to drill…

Guy December 25, 2012 at 4:03

Thanks for the tips. I love them, specially the vanishing burs.

Roberta Weisenburg December 24, 2012 at 4:03

Thanks for posting your helpful hints! I especially like the repurposed fuses and furniture leg pads! Will try!

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