I did my first bit of flush setting recently
I mentioned this in my last post, and had some enquiries about the efficacy and durability of this style of setting, and also about how it affects the light refraction within stones.
I’ve always felt that every question is a valid question, and it’s been my experience when in a group (or training a group), when one person has the courage to ask a question, odds are someone else wants to know, but didn’t have the courage to ask. so I always like to answer a question when I can (Yes, I have also always been that person with the questions!)
What is flush setting?
Why use it in place of a raised rub-over or claw setting?
What are the pros and cons? Here’s what I’ve learned so far. It’s not a full explanation and I’m bound to have missed lots of the pros and cons, but it should help explain a bit.
Flush setting is also described as gypsy setting and royal flush setting, depending on where you live, and is when a (usually brilliant cut round) gemstone is flat to the top of a piece of metal.
You should be able to run your finger over the piece, and barely be able to feel the stone of the setting.
There’s less wear on the rubover part of the setting, because the table (ie the flat top) of the stone and the rest of the metal sits slightly higher than the metal that’s in contact with the stone
It’s done by drilling into the body of the metal, rather than assembling a setting that sits proud of the metal, which means that it’s ideal for tiny stones where it would be unfeasible to create a setting (see diagrams below), pushing the stone into this recess and then burnishing / rubbing over and down the tiny area of metal that is around the drill hole, over the top edge of the girdle, part up the crown, but not so far it reaches the table
Why opt for a flush setting?
The surface is smooth, so there’s no risk of catching or snagging the setting
It’s ideal for stones of under 3mm , partly because creating settings would be so fiddly, which means it saves time and materials and therefore money
You have to factor in the depth of the stone because the point (culet) should not be proud of the reverse to prevent any damage to the stone or the person
Stones have to be hard – 7 on the Mohs scale or more
Light is only going to enter from the crown or the culet
Here’s the result of my test piece* and how I made it.
Tools required / used:
Digital verniers, drill, drill bit, ball burrs*, stone setting burrs*, bees wax, steel ball tool
(*see images below)
Three 2.5mm CZ’s bought from one of my regular and local suppliers
I also used a bit of reticulated silver from my scrap pot, that had begun life at 0.8 mm thick, before the reticulatulation
After checking the diameter and the height of the stones with the verniers, I drilled holes of 1.6mm, soldered 2.5mm jumprings to the reverse** to bulk up the thickness of the silver in those areas, and ball burred and cut seats using burrs measuring 2.2mm and then 2.49mm. (I’d have used my 2.3 or 2.4 setting burr, but I couldn’t find them, dammit!)
I had been avoiding learning this technique, as I didn’t think I had the right tools or skills, but after watching a few YouTube videos about grinding down old burrs, I realised I have these tiny balled tools I bought for metal clay work a long time ago (I think they are sold in sets for nail bars)
I used a hole in the centre of my peg rather than any setting cement to brace the back of the piece, and ‘poked’ the silver at compass points to anchor the stones, before simply running the ball tool round and round repeatedly. This tool was perfect. I then flipped it over and tried to prod the stones out.
**You’ll notice the pointy end of the orange CZ
is protruding exactly as I said it shouldn’t
That’s cos I managed to drill the jumpring off having been distracted whilst soldering it on.
I’m going to pretend this was deliberate, as I’m going to use this as an example for a customer who wants some large stones flush set into a ring.
Then it’ll be a gift for my mum so she can have something to wear whilst gardening instead of the posh necklaces. Don’t tell her!
Resources for the diagrams – Ganoskin Project.
For the courage to begin – YouTube – Nancy Hamilton and the book Stonesetting for Contemporary Jewellery Makers by Melissa Hunt
Brilliant cut stone element names Diagram of the stone after drilling, before setting
Ball burrs Stone setting burr