While beautiful, pavé setting is one of the more precise stone-setting techniques. Because of the stones; close proximity to one another, there is not much room for error. If the stones are set too closely, for example, the result can be shattered stones or broken metal. This project illustrates the pavé technique on a ring with 12 stones. It covers the basic steps to ensure a successful job. The tools needed include dividers, a scribe, a drill, a setting bur, a #40 flat graver, a knife-edged graver, a #52 round graver, a beading tool, and a small wheel brush.


1.  Begin by finding a straight side on the mounting and lightly scribe a line just inside the edge. Next, make a parallel line on the opposite edge and right angle lines connecting at the ends.

2.  When the layout lines are completed there should be a rectangle going all around the top surface just inside of the outer edge. Try to keep the lines as close to the outer edge as possible.

3.  The layout has to be square at all corners. To check this, begin by opening the dividers to reach from one corner of the scribed line to the diagonal opposite corner.

4.  Without changing the setting, check the distance between the opposite corners. Both measurements should be exactly the same. If not, two or more of the corners are not square. Readjust the lines until the corners are exactly the same.

5.  File the sides flat up to, but not through, the layout lines. The lines are reference points for the remainder of the layout.

6.  Measure in from the corners to find the bottom horizontal line’s midpoint; mark that point (A). Starting at each bottom corner’ scribe an arc to determine the midpoint of the top horizontal line (B). Scribe a line from this intersection down to the bottom layout line. This vertical line marks the center for the row of middle stones.

7.  Set the dividers to the width of the stone plus the clearance between them, and mark each side of the centerline along the top and bottom layout lines. Scribe a line between each set of opposing marks to produce perpendicular lines on each side of the centerline.

8.  Measuring in from the corners as in step 6, scribe the center line (A) on the horizontal axis. Adjust the dividers to half the distance measured in step 7 and, along both vertical outside layout lines, mark new points (B) above and below the center line. Next, return the dividers to the full distance and, starting from these new points and moving toward each outside horizontal edge, place additional marks © along the vertical outside layout lines. Scribe lines to connect all vertically opposing points.

9.  The layout lines should result in a grid pattern on the top of the ring. Lay the stones out on the grid so that they are centered over the intersection points. Check for spacing and alignment.

10.  Once the layout has been verified for accuracy, center punch the intersections where the stones will be located.

11.  Drill a pilot hole at each center punched location.

12.  Select a drill roughly two-thirds the diameter of the stones and drill out the pilot holes.

13.  Choose a setting burr that is the same size as the stones. If the stone size does not match a burr size, select a slightly undersized bur to cut the seat. The burr can be rotated slightly to make the seat larger.

14.  Cut the first seat to a depth where the table of the stone is flush with the top surface of the ring.

15.  Put the stone into the seat and check the height. To avoid undercutting, cut incrementally until the stone fits into place. If you cut to deeply, either look for a stone with a thicker crown or cut all of the seats to that same depth.

16.  Continue in this manner until all the seats are cut. Keep in mind that each seat is for a specific stone, so if you take out any stones, arrange them so that each can be put back into the correct seat.

17.  After all of the seats have been cut, check the depth of the stones. All of the tables should be the same height. If everything looks right, remove the stones, keeping them in proper sequence.

18. With a flat graver, remove the narrow portions of metal (A) between the outside rims of the stones, while leaving the squared portions of metal (B) that fall between each group of four stones. The metal should be removed to the top of the seats.

19.  To begin forming prongs, use the knife-edge graver to split each squared portion corner-to-corner.

20.  Use a flat graver such as a #40 to begin the pre-cut for the bright cut around the out-side border. Be sure to leave the small triangle of metal that will form between each stone. The depth of the pre-cut should be just above the girdle of the stones.

21.  With the knife-edge graver, split the small metal triangles along the borders to create two prongs, one for each adjacent stone. Another option is to make the triangles smaller and create shared beads, provided there is adequate metal to secure the stones.

22.  Begin raising beads between the stones with a round graver, such as a #52.

23.  After all of the beads have been raised over the stones, shape them with a beading tool.

24.  Use the beading tool to form another small bead in the center of the four beads just formed.

25.  With a knife-edged graver, remove all flashing from around the beads.

26.  Use the flat graver to complete the bright-cut border surrounding the stones. The border should be level with the top of the girdles.

27.  After completing the bright cut, sue a small wheel brush to polish around the stones, then polish the entire ring.

28.  The outer edge of the bright cut can be milgrained to produce a beaded border. After beading, buff the entire ring with rouge.

29.  Once the ring has been inspected and cleaned, it is ready to be delivered to the customer.



Get More Bench Information:

The book, At The Bench, written by Todd and Gilman is a double award winning book based on the popular AMJ column  of the same name, At the Bench offers step-by-step, illustrated instruction on the repair and fabrication of gold and silver jewelry, as well as insight into common alloys, bench preparation, sage practices for bench jewelers, and tips for taking repairs. More than 200 full-color photographs and countless tips, this book is destined to earn a spot near every jeweler’s bench! Order Stuller series #62-4475.

[May 2005 The Stuller Standard]