Practical Stone Setting Part 26: Shared Bead Pavé Setting

The procedures in this article are standard practices for bench jewelers at this time. If not executed properly, however, they can cause harm. Neither the author nor publisher is responsible for injuries, losses, or damage that may result from the use or misuse of this information.

Safety Alert: Burs and other setting tools are extremely sharp and, if used improperly, can cause serious injury. Be sure that your hands are firmly secured and safely protected at all times.

This article details classical pavé setting with three stones in a row. The word pavé comes from the French word for paved, like a road is paved with bricks. Except, when making fine jewelry we use primarily diamonds instead of bricks. In this basic style of pavé, the stones are so close together that one bead can capture two stones—thus, shared bead pavé setting. In the corners, individual beads frame the setting.

From here things get fancy, with more elaborate styles of pavé featuring stones that are farther apart and require individual beads, plus ornamental beads to fill spaces between the stones. Sometimes rows of stones have five beads in between, plus there are tapered rows, curved rows, multirows, and then clusters of stones set in true pavé fashion. As you can see, once the skills to produce this setting are mastered, put them together in different ways and the sky’s the limit.

What’s important here is to follow the steps and attend to the details. The setting of small diamonds into gold, platinum, and silver is not difficult, but there are a lot of steps and they need to be executed precisely. In this exercise we will set three 3 mm round brilliant cut CZs into copper sheet that is 1.4 mm thick. This exercise is based on the skills and techniques already published in this series. (See JCK Practical Stone Setting installments #12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18.)

1. On a flat sheet of metal, use a ruler and dividers to lay out three parallel lines. The centerline is followed by two lines, which are spaced 1.6 mm from center, with a total width of 3.2 mm for 3 mm stones. On the centerline, lay out a center point and then two points that are 3.2 mm from the center, leaving the centerline with three distinct tiny indentations.

Fig. 1. Laying out the center points for the stones with dividers

2. Use a 1 mm bit to drill to make pilot holes for the stones. When beginning a project like this, keep in mind Aristotle’s advice, “Well begun is half done.” If you are sloppy in the beginning, the quality of your work will only decline from there. So pay attention and get it right the first time. Follow with incrementally larger bits, 1.5 mm, as shown, then 2 mm, and finish with a 2.2 mm to 2.4 mm drill. With each new size, you can correct the layout as needed by pressing the drill in the desired direction to remove more metal and re-center the hole. The final size of the holes should be roughly 75 percent of the stones’ diameters, or about 2.25 mm.

Fig. 2. Drilling holes for the stones

3. Use a 3 mm round bur, the same size as the stones, to remove most of the metal and prepare for cutting the seat. Experience shows that this is faster and easier on your burs than going directly to the setting bur. Carefully guide the cutting and stop before reaching the midpoint of the bur.

Fig. 3. Removing metal with a round bur

4. Cut away the metal between the holes. This is best accomplished before the stones are in place. The extra metal is in the way and when removed, leaves clear, crisp material to push over as beads. There are a few choices for this task. Some setters use the side of a tapered bur, a round bur, or, as shown here, a #53 round graver.

Fig. 4. Using a round graver to cut between the seats

5. Finish the seats with a 3 mm setting bur. This bur matches the profile of the stones. It leaves a vertical wall and angled seat, which fit the stone perfectly.

Fig. 5. Use a setting bur to cut the seats

6. Continue to bur until the seats are the correct depth. For 3 mm stones, the table should barely poke out above the surface. For smaller stones, the table should be flush. Here, with the deep pavilion of a 3 mm stone, if the tables are set as low as the surface, the seat will be too low to properly raise beads and do the bright cut. So in this example and for stones larger than 3 mm, a bit of the crown should be visible above the surface when viewed from the side. Seat all the stones at the same height. Test to ensure they are level, flat, and in the same plane. When tilted toward a light source, all the tables should catch the light at the same moment.

Fig. 6. Finishing the seats with a setting bur

7. Use sticky wax to transport the stones into the seats. Rotate the stones so that the geometry of the tables is in alignment. The stones must be level and slightly above the surface.

Fig. 7. Placing the stones

8. Complete the box by adding two small lines perpendicular to the layout lines, about half a millimeter beyond the end stones. Place a #6 square graver precisely in the corner and aim toward the center of the stone as you exert pressure and start to raise metal. Go around and begin the cut on all four corners, stopping when the metal is about to contact the stones.

Fig. 8. Using square graver in the corners to raise metal 

9. To raise the metal between the stones, use a flat graver. Don’t use the square graver because it will make deep grooves. Instead use a #41 flat graver to grab enough metal to catch both stones. Push the metal forward and downward, aiming between the stones so that the metal traps the two adjacent gems. Work back and forth on both sides. Use the square graver in the corners to continue raising and pushing metal in stages.

Fig. 9. Using a flat graver to capture both stones

10. The square graver makes narrow, deep cuts, defining mitered corners. The flat graver used this way makes wide, shallow cuts, preparing for the slanted bright cut all around. Both methods are used so that raised beads of metal capture the stones.

Fig. 10. With the stones in place, metal has been pushed over the edges.

11. Cut around the beads with an onglette graver, #0 or #1. This graver has a narrow point that can dig deep and trim excess metal in preparation for forming into round beads. Use it to cut beside and behind the beads. This separates the beads from the surrounding plate by removing small connections of metal.

Fig. 11. Using an onglette graver to trim around the beads

12. Use a #41 flat graver to trim the corners of the beads, leaving them with tiny trapezoids on the corners all around. To do this, place the side of the graver on the crown, with the cutting edge angled and cut back to the bright cut area.

Fig. 12. Trimming the beads with a flat graver. Note the trapezoidal facets. 

13. Form the rough beads into spheres with a beading tool. Select one that appears to be the same diameter as the base of the bead. These tools work best when they are polished, so take a minute to bring up a luster on the concave end by spinning the tool into a piece of polishing paper or into wood with rouge on it.

Mount the tool in the supplied wooden handle and apply pressure gently from above. Slowly move the handle in a small circle around the tip. Add pressure and increase the size of the circle to form a complete hemisphere of metal. Guide the beads over the stone, making sure to get full contact all around.

Fig. 13. Using a beading tool to shape the beads

14. The final bright cut around the edge creates a reflective frame, which completes the setting process. Use the flat graver at an angle, at first digging away at the metal and then trimming it into crisply beveled walls, which meet at mitered corners. Use the graver to cut when pushing and burnish when pulling. Practice makes perfect.

Fig. 14. Removing metal and completing the final bright cut with a flat graver 

15. The completed exercise in copper: The stones are level, flat, and at an even height just above the surface. The excess metal has been removed, ­leaving distinct spherical beads holding the stones and a mirror-flat reflective frame all around.

Fig. 15. Completed project with three stones pavé-set with shared beads into sheet

Next step…setting diamonds into gold.

© 2012 Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts
First publication rights assigned to JCK magazine.

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