These days I look a lot at my left pinky. Not that it’s something special, but it holds a small ring that I just created – and in the ring I have flush set two light blue sapphires.
So? You may ask.
Well, this is my first flush-set piece and I’m terribly proud of it! I have been wanting to learn this technique, that I constantly see used very elegantly around me, for ages. Look for instance at some of my favourite designers Vibes amazing rings:
- Impossible to create without mastering flush-setting. To me this is a very professional way of setting stones and hence is something you do, when you are a “real” jeweler. Needles to say, that I felt somewhat inferior being unable to perform that technique.
I actually tried once with a piece of copper and some glass stones and broke both, which didn’t help mending my feeling of inferiority. Since I have been asking quite a few very talented goldsmiths how exactly they do it. The variations in their directions were very small, but in this way I slowly saved up courage and knowledge to give the technique another try.
I have just created a stunning ring made of her own old whitegold rings for a customer with quite a few flush set diamonds. I had to hand it over to a professional setter in order to finish it properly.
It annoyed me not being able to do it myself and when my customer picked up the ring, she asked, before leaving why I didn’t just learn the technique myself?
That was the last straw. I decided, there and then, to give it a go as soon as I was alone in my workshop again. I couldn’t find my practice stones made of glass and decided to jump straight to the real thing and pulled out a cast silver ring which I had previously made and two light blue sapphires of 3 and 2,5mm. I chose those stones partly because I happened to have quite a few of them and partly because sapphires are very hard (second after diamonds), so I figured they would be able to take some abuse.
Then I switched to the setting burr – the one that looks like a house from the side and which creates a good edge for the stone to rest on. Choose one of the exact same size or a fraction bigger – no more! Now I had a hole that was ideally fitted for the stone. Well, obviously I ended up swapping burrs around a lot, because I went slowly and carefully and had to adjust and take out more silver than I had initially done, but I ended up learning how to achieve the right depth.
In went the stone. What you are looking for is that the “table” – the flat top of the facet-cut stone – is absolutely flush with the surface you are attempting to set in. Hence the name of the technique.
I then chose to work a bit like when you are bezel setting: With my point burnisher (it looks like a short awl or pricker, just with a bit more rounded point) I pressed in the edge north, south, east and west to roughly secure the stone before starting to follow the edge around, slowly pushing it down upon the stone. In the end I just went round and round, tilting the burnisher more and more vertical as I went.
And all of a sudden, it was done. The stone didn’t move any more. I tried to hit it loose - it didn’t come loose. I pricked through from the backside with a needle (though not full force) and it stayed. I had flush set my first stone! Okay... the surface had taken quite a bit of abuse, how fortunate that I had gone for a design with a coarse surface, but still... stone was stuck and that was the main thing!
Immediately I went for the 2,5 mm stone and repeated the process with the same good result.
Surprised and happy I sat back and admired my work, awed by the fact that I had finally done it and even succeeded in my first attempt!
All of a sudden I feel like a ”grown up” jeweler and a whole new range of designs opened up to me. A big design-limitation has been removed. Yesyes, I will have to practice some more etc., but the ice is broken and the way to tiny glittering diamonds flush set in my designs is paved. Hooray! I am looking forward to sharing those designs with you in future.
(There are many more instructions on flush setting on the internet. If you would like another one, check out the one from Ganoksin: http://www.ganoksin.com/borisat/nenam/gypsy-setting.htm )
A last comment on the hole-drilling-issue:
I was so enthusiastic about my new ability that I decided to throw myself into creating a new version with more, but smaller stones - this time without the holes behind the stones. Again I went for sapphires, but various shades of pinks. Here is the result together with the first try:
I think it came out quite nice and when reconsidering the hole-or-no-hole-issue, I took a closer look at the first ring. Turns out that I can see the colour of my skin shining through the biggest of the blue stones when I'm wearing the ring, which isn't necessarily a good thing. I don't think I'll drill through again, or if I do, use a very small drill, but what do you say? Hole or no hole?