10 Expert Tips for Stone Setting from Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist

If I buy this stone, you’re thinking, how am I going to set it? Whether it’s the stone in your hand this minute at the Tucson shows or one you’ve had for ages, you have many choices. Here are some great design ideas for creating gemstone jewelry from expert contributors to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Each of these artists has also provided us with tips about stone setting, and here are a few of them.

ABOVE: Stacia Woods’s Sculptural Gem with pearl and diamond pendant, February 2013 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson

Benham riveted sunflower pendant

Tom and Kay Benham created an elaborate floral setting using smaller silver petals as prongs to hold their cabochon in place. Riveted Sterling Sunflower pendant, December 2012 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson

1 Best Patterns for Sawing Out Metal

“Tom creates our patterns using AutoCad®; however, you could draw your own by hand. We prefer to print our patterns onto full sheet glossy label stock because its sealed finish allows the pattern to hold up to the rigors of sawing and filing.”

Benham sunflower pendant chisel

Tom and Kay first score the metal where they want to bend each petal-prong; photo: Tom & Kay Benham

2 DIY Tool for Scoring Prongs

“If you don’t have a punch the right width, you can adapt a small screwdriver by grinding it to width. Round the tip slightly to avoid cutting through the prongs.”

3 Forming Petal-Prongs

“If you don’t have the V-shaped pliers we use to form the petals, you can achieve the same effect with a large chasing punch and a thick piece of rubber. Place the metal on the rubber, center the chasing punch on the petal, and strike with a mallet.”

favorite bezel pusher stone setting

Photo: Tom & Kay Benham

4 Favorite Bezel Pusher

“Our bezel pusher is an old plastic toothbrush handle that we cut off and sanded smooth. It’s our favorite bezel setting tool because it won’t scratch the cabochon or the metal if there’s an inadvertent slip.”

Roger Halas created an elaborate cap tube stone setting for his Boar Tusk pendant, August 2012 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson

Roger Halas created an elaborate cap for his Boar Tusk pendant, August 2012 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson

5 Rivet for Extra Tusk Security

“When setting long pieces, once you force it into the mount, you might try this. Drill a hole through the mount and directly into the tusk, claw, crystal, or whatever it is, then add a rivet. This gives you two ways to hold the piece in place: the glue and a mechanical element.”

6 Cut Tubing Evenly

“Saw part way through the tube to begin, turn the tubing, and continue until it is cut all the way through. Turning the tubing during cutting will help you cut it evenly.”

Stacia Woods used tubing to help hold a grooved freeform gem in place in her Sculptural Gem pendant, February 2013 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson

Stacia Woods used tubing to help hold a grooved freeform gem in place in her Sculptural Gem pendant, February 2013 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson

7 Thread a Peg for Extra Pearl Security

“File the peg with small notches or use a tap and die set to thread the peg. This will hold the pearl more securely in place when it is cemented.”

Mark Ramsour solders a ledge of 16ga square wire with hard solder inside the bezel of his Classic Agate Cuff, January 2010 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson

Mark Ramsour solders a ledge of 16ga square wire with hard solder inside the bezel of his Classic Agate Cuff, January 2010 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson

8 Ledge Inside Bezel for Cab Security

To solder his 16ga ledge inside a bezel, Mark Ramsour uses hard solder. “I like to cut small sheet solder chips, then hammer them very thin. I place them between the tensioned wire ends to ensure that the solder is exactly where and how much I need.”

stone setting Benhams

Tom and Kay Benham use the tried-and-true “clock face” method of bezel setting in their Simply Beautiful Bezels earring project, January 2010 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson

9 Clock Around the Rock

“Always work around the bezel thinking of it as a clock face. First push the bezel at 3; then move to 9, 6, and then 12. Then continue gently working around the circumference, working opposing sides alternately until you have a smooth surface.”

stone setting clock face tips

Illustration: Tom & Kay Benham

10 Flat on Curved Surfaces

Roger Halas needed to match the curvatures of his bezel and cuff when making his Sterling Space Cuff, April 2017 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson stone setting curved surface

Roger Halas needed to match the curvatures of his bezel and cuff when making his Sterling Space Cuff, April 2017 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson

“Fitting a square peg in a round hole is a problem. So is mounting a bezel with a flat bottom on a curved surface. The way to bring the two together is to tape sandpaper to the cuff and run the bezel along it until the curvatures match — precisely.”

Merle White is Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.

Learn About Stones and How to Set Them with Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist

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Stone Setting A to Z

Learn stone setting so that each technique helps you master the next one in two in-depth videos with professional jewelry instructor Ann Cahoon: prong, flush, and bezel setting or fancy shaped faceted stones.

 


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