Professional Jeweler Archive: Shellac Substitute

November 2001

Professional Bench/Tool Tips


Shellac Substitute

Use PlastiformTM to secure a tennis bracelet for diamond setting


Plastiform™ is a low-temperature, hand-formable, non-toxic thermoplastic. At room temperature, it’s a resilient plastic, but it melts into a clear gel at 140.&Mac251; Use hot water to melt and form it.

Bench jeweler generalists can use Plastiform in a variety of ways, such as:

  • A replacement for orange flake shellac (as shown in this example).
  • A material to make form-fitting handles for tools.
  • A substitute for pitch in chasing and raising techniques.
  • A stabilizer for form retention during a forming or setting process.

Cale Whitely demonstrates how he sets diamonds into a tennis bracelet. He starts with a holding device that fits into his GRS Benchmate.

Next, he uses hot water to melt the Plastiform and then places it around the device.

While the material is still warm and flexible, he secures the tennis bracelet around the holding device.

After the Plastiform cools, Whitely begins the setting process.
First, he burs seats for the diamonds using a setting bur.
Then he places the diamond in its bearing and uses pliers and other tools to bend and form the prongs over each diamond.
Once the setting is completed, he removes the bracelet from the holding device using a commercial wallpaper remover as the heat source. Steam cleaning removes residual material from the bracelet.

– Mark B. Mann, Director of Trade Programs, Jewelers of America

Featured application by Cale Whitely, JA® Certified Bench Jeweler™, Underwood’s Fine Jewelers, Fayetteville, AR


For information regarding Plastiform, call Frei and Borel at (510) 832-0355.

Photographs are courtesy of Jewelers of America
© 2001 Jewelers of America


Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications