Every so often, I hear questions from jewelers who struggle with pin vises and breaking earring posts. Broken posts are often mistakenly identified as failed solder joints, but usually these problems can be avoided with proper setting practices. I’d like to share some of my setting tips with you.

  1. Start by using the Universal Hand Vise Kit. The brass jaws will hold virtually any wire basket. Place the setting in the jaws between the upper and lower bezel wires and close the vise. Only light to moderate pressure is needed to secure the setting. This process allows for the setting to be seat-cut, de-burred, stone-set, and polished without ever being removed from the vise.
  1. Set your earring with a Thermo-Loc Starter Kit or one pound of Thermo-Loc Sticks. When using Thermo-Loc, the hole in the block should be large and filled with enough of it to sink the bottom of the basket into. While using a reducing flame on your torch, heat the Thermo-Loc around the earring basket and post. Once it’s in position, remove the heat and let the Thermo-Loc solidify. After setting the earring, reheat the Thermo-Loc and remove the earrings. Place in Ultrasonic to clean. (As a side note, the great thing about Thermo-Loc is that it can be molded into any shape. You can also mold it to fit aBenchmate Setter’s Packagebench pin, or a Microblock™ ball vise.)
  2. Select a Panther bur that measures approximately .25mm smaller (or slightly less) than the stone size you’re setting. This helps to prevent the bur from wrapping around the prong, reduces over-cutting, and keeps the seats level.