Professional Jeweler Archive: Custom-Designed Three-Stone Ring

December 2004

Professional Bench/Manufacturing Up Close


Custom-Designed Three-Stone Ring

Knowing wax and manufacturing advantages using Foredom tools and accessories contributes to higher levels of quality and proficiency for your shop


1. This three-stone ring designed by Barney Jette features two flush-set trillion sapphire side stones totaling 0.81 carat and a round brilliant diamond center weighing 1.05 carat. Jette prepared the wax using build-up techniques and cast it in 14k yellow gold. Rod Smith, Jette’s shop manager, completed the ring and set the gemstones.

For details on flush-setting the trillion sapphires, see the related article in the Defining Quality section starting on page 63.

2. Jette uses the Foredom Wax Carver wax-working pen to build up a wax for the three-stone ring shown above. He prefers the Foredom wax pen because of its compact size, variable heat control, variety of pen tips and flexible cord from the control box.
3. After Jette completes the wax, he places the gems in it to confirm the structure of his design. Then he removes the gems and prepares the ring for casting.
4. Jette casts the ring in 14k yellow gold and gives it to Smith for prefinishing, stone setting and finishing. Smith files to remove the remaining part of the sprue and does some basic cleanup.
5. Smith then files the inside of the ring and rounds it using a mandrel and rawhide mallet. After the ring is round, he sands the inside of the shank with three grades of abrasives, starting with 320 grit and ending with 600 grit.
6. With his Foredom Flexible Shaft Motor, Smith uses a Foredom No. 18 Quick Change Handpiece. To insert or remove a bur, he depresses the lever on the grip of the handpiece.

Notice the nosecone of the handpiece has been replaced with a nosecone from the Foredom No. 18 AllSet™ Quick Change adapter kit. The new nosecone is threaded and will accept the stone-setting guides from the adapter kit as needed. It’s made of stainless steel and is tough and rigid. Here Smith uses three-quarter-in. 3M radial bristle discs to prefinish the outer surface of the cast ring. He starts with the yellow disc, which is equivalent to 80 grit. He allows only the ends of the flexible bristles to touch the ring. In addition to prefinishing the outer surface, he prefinishes the area that will be below the gemstones after setting.

7. Smith uses four grades of bristle discs. Here he uses pink (pumice grit) as the final step in the prefinishing procedure. Notice the ring’s even surface and the luster he achieves. He’ll use two finer grades of radial bristle discs when he finishes the ring after setting.
8. To flush-set the trillions, he screws one of the channel guides from the No. 18 Foredom AllSet adapter kit into the nosecone. He inserts a 1mm inverted cone bur into the quick-change handpiece and adjusts the AllSet for the optimum cutting height.

Remember, the trillion was fit and inserted into the wax. In this step, he’s primarily smoothing the bearing and cutting into the wall just a small amount. The AllSet guide guarantees that he cuts a level bearing as the guide rides the upper wall of the mounting, controlling the depth of the cut from the top. For details on the bearing and the overall flush-setting process for the trillions, see pages 63-66.

9. In finishing the flush-setting, Smith uses the Foredom Micro Motor with the Setting/Engraving Reciprocating Handpiece for hammering. He prefers this reciprocating handpiece because he can adjust the impact.

The impact action isn’t activated until he places the anvil tip onto the metal he wishes to hammer, giving him better control. The metal over the trillion on the right has only been hammered at this stage and the one on the left has been hammered and bright-cut with a flat-bottom graver.

10. To prepare the bearing for the center diamond, Smith uses the Foredom No. 18 Quick Change Handpiece with the AllSet channel guide and a 3mm bearing bur. Because he installed the nosecone from the adapter kit on the handpiece, installing guides for various setting jobs takes only seconds.
11. Smith uses a bud bur to open the angle left by the bearing bur so the bearing conforms to the crown and pavilion angles of the diamond.
12. He cuts the bearing, fits the diamond and determines the ring is ready. He places the diamond in the bearing and tightens it by using a hammer and punch. NOTE: his mandrel is suspended in a cradle he custom-built. His cradle holds and supports the ring mandrel, and he’s able to work it in any direction because it’s not affixed to his bench.
13. After he secures the diamond with the hammer and punch, he uses the Foredom Micro Motor and the Setting/Engraving Reciprocating Handpiece to hammer all the metal of the partial bezel.
14. To true the partial bezel after setting and hammering, Smith uses a flat-bottom graver to create a bright cut. Next he finishes the ring and prepares it for polishing.
15. For the first step of polishing, Smith uses Foredom Blue Platinum Polishing compound and a natural bristle brush. Because Smith prefinished the ring using radial bristle discs, all that’s required at this stage is a quick cut-down process.
16. He finishes the polishing by using Foredom Blue polishing compound in the ultrasonic cleaner and then using Foredom White compound with a muslin buff for the final finish and ultimate luster and color.

Barney Jette operates a design and manufacturing store specializing in design, custom order and repair. He also produces one-of-a-kind original designs. He and Rod Smith can be reached at barneyjette@montana.com.

This installment was sponsored by Foredom, Bethel, CT. For information on Foredom tools, equipment and accessories, contact Michael Zagielski at (203) 792-8622 or sales@fore-dom.com.

By Mark B. Mann
Technical Contributions by Barney Jette and Rod Smith, Barney Jette Jewelry Design, Missoula, MT

Photographs by Mark B. Mann

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Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications