Professional Jeweler Archive: Channel Setting Baguettes

November 2000

For Your Staff/ Defining Quality

Channel Setting Baguettes

Knowing how to set baguette stones demonstrates another aspect of quality in your shop

Last month we looked at techniques associated with prong setting baguette-cut stones and described the features that distinguish a professional job from one with problems (see October 2000, pp. 142-145). This month, we look the best way to accomplish the more difficult process of channel setting baguettes.

Channel-set Ring

This installment of The JA Professional’s Guide to Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship discusses channel-set baguettes and describes the processes that will help you complete this setting project to the highest professional standards.

The Layout Process

Regardless of the type of setting, layout is the first step and a primary component of your overall success. A proper layout helps anticipate and avoid problems. The steps:

1. Lay out your baguettes, table down, on a flat steel bench block. Arrange the stones in order of their table height and girdle thickness, with the thickest stone in the middle, graduating down on both sides so the thinnest stones are at the edges.

Preliminary layout of baguettes

2. While the stones are grouped, check their lengths. The lengths should match or vary only slightly.

3. Check the stone lengths against the width of the channel walls. The stones should overlap the walls by about one-third of the wall’s thickness.

4. Place the baguettes on top of the ring and hold them in place with sticky (boxing) wax or red sprue wax. For the sake of terminology, let’s say these stones are now in the layout position.
Placement of Baguettes

5. There should be a slight gap between the stones in the layout position. This gap will close automatically when you turn the stones over and set them into the ring – the set position. Remember, the deeper the stones are set into the mounting, the closer together they’ll become, so be sure to account for this during the layout.

6. While the baguettes are in the layout position, use a sharp tool to mark their center points on both sides of the outside of the ring. Then remove the stones, clean them and lay them out in their proper order.

The Seat Cutting Process

Proper seat cutting for a baguette is a slow, step-by-step process. Seating 18 baguettes in a row is a good test of a jeweler’s patience – especially when the stones are of varying proportions and sizes.

The seats must be deep enough so the table of each stone is below the top of the channel walls. When the stones are finally set into place, the tables should be even with or slightly below the top of the channel. The density of different alloys makes them respond differently when you’re performing the hammering required to set the baguettes. A softer alloy requires a slightly lower starting point for the creation of the seats.

1. Use a pair of dividers to transfer the depth of the baguette (from the bottom of the girdle to the top of the table) to the inside of the channel walls. Take into account that not all baguettes have the same depth.
Marking a guideline along the inside of the channel wall

2. Begin cutting your seat with a 90° bearing bur, small enough that it contacts only one channel wall at a time. Cut a continuous groove along the guideline marked by your divider.
Using a 90° bearing bur.

3. Cut the groove at each end of the ring where the final baguette will be seated. Make sure you provide a relief cut at each corner so no corners of the baguettes and metal will be in contact.

4. Begin the individual seat cutting with the center baguette. Check the baguette’s fit in the groove you’ve already cut. You’ll probably have to make modifications so the baguette fits snugly and at the proper depth.
Individually seat each stone to account for differences in girdle thickness, pavillion depths and crown heights

5. Once your first baguette is properly seated, wax it in place and then move to the next stone in line. Ultimately, each baguette will be seated individually. You can modify the seats using very small ball or hart burs or the appropriate gravers.

The Setting Process

Once you’ve individually seated and lightly waxed in place all the baguettes, check them and make sure:

• All the tables in the row of stones are level.

•The tables conform uniformly to the radius of the ring.

•There are no gaps between the stones and no stones overlap each other.

•The ends of the stones fit tightly into the channel and the corners of the mounting have been relief-cut.

6. To set the baguettes, first angle the top of the channel walls away from the stones. The angled top allows for less fatigue on the stones and the mounting during the hammering process. It also allows for less hammering, therefore, no expansion of the ring size.

Setting the Baguettes

7. Lightly hammer the channel walls downward to secure the baguettes in place. I like to use a hammer tool with a beveled tip to tap the channel walls over and down onto the stones. Start at the top center and work downward on each side. Work opposite sides and don’t try to “move” too much metal at one time. Repeat this process slowly until all stones are tight and secure.

8. Remove the wax by steam and ultrasonic cleaning.

9. Check all stones to ensure they remained tight and secure. The wax may have trapped filings from seat burring between some of the baguettes and the bearing. These filings are dislodged through the cleaning process, and the stone may become loose. Retighten by rewaxing and rehammering. Clean and check again.

Bench Tip

For the fastest and most precise way to cut a continuous channel for this technique, use the Foredom® Allset.™ This device (illustrated below) uses a series of attachments with the standard Foredom #30® Handpiece that control a variety of features for successful setting. Buy Foredom Allset from jewelry tool suppliers.

10. For final clean-up, use a superfine Adalox™ wheel or fine files across the inside of the channel wall; polish. If the stones are not diamonds, make sure they are covered and protected by a double layer of masking tape or another heavy tape.

– by Tom Weishaar, JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler and Shop Manager
Underwood's Fine Jewelry, Fayetteville, AR

Jeffery Mathews of Jeffery Mathews Designs, Dallas, TX, contributed to this article. Jeff, designer of the Foredom® Allset,™ will demonstrate the latest developments in setting techniques using the Foredom Allset, world-class bench tricks and wax carving techniques Feb. 24 during the JA® Masters in Motion at the Tucson Hilton East in Tucson, AZ. He also will participate in two panel discussions. Masters in Motion is run in conjunction with Rio Grande’s Catalog in Motion. This three-day event features JA Certified Master Bench Jewelers™ demonstrating jewelry manufacturing techniques. The free demonstrations are live and shown via a close-up video camera and large-screen monitors.

The JA® Professional’s Guide to Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship

Channel Setting Baguettes

–by Mark B. Mann, Director of Professional Certification, Jewelers of America

Professionally Setting Baguettes in Channels
A. The baguettes’ tables are even and level. They are at or below the top of the channel wall.

B. Each stone is tight and secure.

C. There are no spaces, gaps or overlapping stones.

D. From a side view, the baguette’s seat conforms to the proportions of the stone.

E. The metal of the channel wall is flush against the crown of the stone.

F. The channel wall is even, crisp and sharp.

G. The channel wall covers 10% to 15% of the stone.

H. There is no damage to any of the stones.

Potential Problems to Watch for

Care wasn’t taken when the individual seats were burred for the stones in this channel. Consequently, the stones are set at varying angles and the tables are at differing heights.
The baguettes overlap each other. Besides giving a poor appearance, they will break through normal wear. Care wasn’t taken when seats were cut; many of the stones are of slightly different lengths. The shorter stones are not tight.
Careless setting procedures are sure to lead to abraded, chipped and broken baguettes.

© 2000 Jewelers of America Inc.
This information is required for the third level of the JA® Certified Bench Jeweler™ program.

For information about the JA® Certified Bench Jeweler™ program, call JA at (800) 223-0673 or visit

Illustrations by Lainie Mann – Visual Communications

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications