So much care goes into the creation of each and every Melanie Casey design. Here, we’ll give you an in-depth look at how we stone-set our lovely Unveiled engagement rings. And for more videos and pictures behind-the-bench, follow @makersofmelaniecasey on Instagram!
We’re starting with a 14k yellow gold Unveiled Ring, newly designed by Melanie, in which we’ll be setting a 0.70ct. oval cut diamond focal, and two accent diamonds.
First, we will set the small accent diamonds. We use pliers to gently open the prongs so we can cut away a small bit of excess material (gold) inside the setting. This space we cut away is the “seat”. This is where the stone sits, and is angled around the bottom for support. The prongs hold the diamond down from the top so it doesn’t move, rock, or spin in place. While a loose stone may not seem like a huge deal, it can wear down prongs over time and the stone can fall out! It is a good idea to have a trusted jeweler check prongs every year to make sure they are tight.
In the picture above you can see a setting bur- the tool that will cut the seat for us. The cutting is a TINY amount. Cut too much or too crooked and the stone will wiggle. Cut too little and it won’t sit properly. This is where the skilled touch and sight of a trained jeweler comes in. We use magnifying loops to check out the seat and see how the stone sits in place.
Nice! That stone is sitting level in the setting and we can use pliers to squeeze in the prongs one at a time. Something else we do very carefully is push down the prongs. In order to keep the stone aligned, you must push each prong in a little at a time, all around the stone, until they are secure.
With small stones, like the accent diamonds, it’s a challenge to strike a balance between securing the stone with prongs but also not covering the stone too much. We want to see that sparkle! So we trim the prongs back to see the table (the flat top facet of the stone), which will allow the light to shine off of it.
The prongs we clipped are pretty sharp, so we use this fun little bit called a cup bur to shape the ends. Inside the cup is rounded, so when placed over the prong it spins and shapes the metal while removing scratchy pieces. It’s also helpful when working in tight spaces where it might be difficult to use a file.
The final step before moving on to set the focal stone is to smooth the accent prongs a little more with a pumice wheel. Similar to a pumice you use to exfoliate your skin, these little wheels will smooth the metal. They can be very aggressive so move lightly over the area to shape and smooth the prongs.
Now let’s move on to the main event! We have a .7ct. oval cut diamond that will go into the focal part of our setting. This will be set east-to-west across the band.
Remember earlier we cut a seat for the accent stone to sit? We will set the oval in a similar but not exact way. Our Unveiled setting is a little trickier in that the stone will sit in a “basket”. This means that the setting has open sides so we can see the diamond and it lets lots of light shine in. This also means there is not much metal to cut from. We need to be very precise and careful when cutting- again, this is where a jeweler’s knowledge comes in. They will be able to decide if they can remove material from the setting, perhaps make the prongs longer, or realize the stone is too big and simply won’t fit. In the case of this Unveiled Ring, the stone is fitting level, and the prongs will have enough length to fold over the stone.
This stone is sitting perfectly! So now we can proceed with locking it in place by bringing the prongs down. Like before we don’t focus on one prong at a time, to ensure that the stone won’t go in crooked. Setting work is more about making tiny adjustments instead of big bold moves. Especially working on our delicate jewelry-it is essential!
Once all prongs are down and flat on the stone we can file, use the gray wheel and do a final polish. After we clean and steam the piece it will come out sparkly, clean and ready for Quality Check and Photography!
See this finished ring, here!