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Stone Setting for Beginners (How to Get Started)

Stone setting is one of the most important (and in demand) skills when it comes to jewellery making and it is the only skill that I really wanted to learn.

But the problem is that there is a lack of information online about how to get started, which is why I’ve created this post as I want to give you the basics and also links to other resources so that you can continue your journey in this amazing skill.

What Equipment Do You Need For Stone Setting?

In order to put stones into jewellery, you are going to need some tools and as with everything when it comes to jewellery making, there are basic tools and advanced ones and I’m going to try and cover all of them below…

Basic Tools for Beginners

Let’s start with the basics tools, most of which are relatively inexpensive and you may already have some if you are already making jewellery.

Holding Your Work

Some people hold the piece in their hands but wooden clamps have been popular for many years.

And while they are mainly used for rings, with the addition of things like Thermo-Loc, Jett-Sett or Shellac, they can be adapted to hold other types of jewellery such as pendants or earrings.


You can do stone setting just using your eyes but for setting smaller stones and more intricate settings, you do need magnification.

The cheapest way to do this is to buy an optivisor but buy a genuine one as cheap lenses can affect your eyes and not in a good way!

Foredom K1070 Micromotor

Powered Drill

A jewellery bench staple but a drill is an essential tool for many different styles of stone setting and there are two main options that you can choose from:

  • Pendant Drill – good levels of torque but flex-shaft doesn’t allow for the most control, can ‘kick’ when starting
  • Micromotor – generally lower torque but more controllable

I’ve used both and I prefer the micromotor as I just find it a lot easier to use but getting one with a decent amount of torque can be expensive and for some jobs, I do regret selling my pendant drill!

Drill Bits & Burrs

In order to remove metal, you are going need drill bits and burrs (they are known by other names as well) and there are many different burrs to choose from.

When you are just getting started, I’d recommend getting 0.6mm & 1mm drill bits and a set of ball burrs and then adding others as and when you need them.

Pushers & Pliers

Two stone setting essentials, pushers can be used for securing bezels and tightening claws, they can be made out of steel or brass.

Pliers are often used to tighten claws and can also be used for vector tightening, I have normal and parallel pliers.

There are also bezel rockers, which can also be used for moving the metal and can be useful for setting larger cabochons in bezels.


These are used for many different styles of setting and are one of the most used tools by professional setters.

There are many different types of graver but the ones I use the most are:

  • Square
  • Onglette
  • Flat
  • Half-round (scorper)

Just a note on gravers, you will need to form and sharpen them, which is going to require some additional equipment, such as:

  • Bench grinder
  • India or Arkansas Stone
  • Polishing wheels, such as Ceragloss wheels (you use these with your drill)

Needle Files

Another jewellery bench staple but one that is often used in stone setting, the ones I use the most are:

  • Three Square
  • Barrette

I would recommend cut 4 and also making a safety file, which is where you remove the teeth from one side and edge as this helps to stop you damaging the stone.


For certain types of settings, such as bezel or flush setting, burnishers can not only help to set the stone but also provide a finish to the metal.

You can buy large burnishers, which can be used for bezels but I prefer to make my own out of old burrs as you can create ones that are ideal for flush setting and can also be used for bezels.

Polishing Wheels & Accessories

Not for your polishing motor but the rubber wheels and points you can use with your drill.

These help you clean up and polish the inside of the setting before you put the stone in and help you add the finishing touch to the setting.

I know this looks like a lot of tools and it is but the most expensive items are going to be the drill and a genuine optivisor, followed by the gravers.

Most of the others aren’t that expensive and things like burrs and rubber wheels etc are all consumables.

Advanced Stone Setting Tools

They aren’t really advanced tools, they are just basically upgrades for some of the basic tools that can make setting a much easier process, with the main ones being…


Most professional stone setters use microscopes as they offer some advantages over using an optivisor:

  1. They allow you to see more due to higher levels of magnification, which is very helpful!
  2. You sit in a better posture, they allow you to sit upright and not hunched over like you can be when using an optivisor

Work Holding

Most professional stone setters use more advanced work holding equipment such as engravers balls or something like the GRS BenchMate.

This can provide a more solid base to work with than using a normal ring clamp.

Powered Engraving Machines

The third tool that most professional stone setters have is a powered engraving machine as they are much easier and more controllable to use than manual push gravers.

These can be powered by air (pneumatic) such as the GRS Gravermax or Jura Artgraver or electricity such as the PulseGraver.

And if you look at most stone setters benches, they will have all of these tools but they aren’t cheap, especially for the higher end equipment and you can easily be looking at upwards of £3,000 for just these 3 pieces of equipment!

Which is why a microscope and a powered graver is on my wishlist.

What is the Easiest Stone Setting to Learn?

When you are just getting started with stone setting, it can be a little bit daunting as to where to start and which type of stone setting you should learn first.

To help you out, I’ve put together a quick list of what I think are the easiest setting styles to learn (from easiest to more difficult) and what you can progress onto from learning this setting style based on my own experience of learning how to set stones (I’ll also include some pictures of my first attempts!).

1. Flush Setting

In my opinion, the easiest setting to learn is flush setting as you only need basic equipment to start practising this, which includes:

  • A flat sheet of copper or brass
  • Some 2mm Round CZs (you can use other sizes but I found these the best)
  • A 1mm drill bit and some ball burrs
  • A needle point burnisher

The technique for round stones is also pretty simple and beginner friendly and you can practice this over and over again until you get it nailed.

Next Steps – after learning how to flush set round stones, you can learn how to flush set fancy shapes such as oval, square and marquise cut stones.

2. Grain Setting

Grain setting is another technique that can be done repeatedly on piece of copper or brass and is the technique that most setters get started with, for this you will need:

  • A flat sheet of copper or brass
  • Some 2mm Round CZs (you can use other sizes but I found these the best)
  • A 1mm drill bit and some ball burrs
  • A half-round or square graver
  • Beading tools
Grain set eternity ring (yes, this was my first attempt at grain setting)

When just getting started, I found learning how to set a single stone with 4 grains was the easiest as this gets you to start using gravers and understanding how they work.

Next Steps – once you have learned how to set a single stone, you can look at star settings, single row grain setting and pave.

3. Bezel Setting

This is the technique that many jewellery makers start with as they often make bezels when they are learning how to make jewellery and while the technique is quite simple, good execution often comes with lots of practice. To start doing bezel setting, you will need:

  • Round or oval bezels and stones
  • Burrs (to create a seat for faceted stones)
  • A pusher
  • A burnisher
  • Graver (optional but helps to give a bright cut finish)

Why this isn’t higher up the list is that getting bezels (or making them) can be expensive, which isn’t ideal for doing repeated practice and even practice castings you can get aren’t cheap.

Next Steps – once you have learnt how to set round and oval stones, you can move on to fancy shape stones, especially ones with points as these require some additional steps. Knowing how to do bezel setting can also be helpful for doing V claws as well.

4. Claw Setting

Even though it is one of the most popular setting styles, learning how to set a stone in a claw setting (sometimes called prong setting) is one of the more challenging styles to learn in my opinion. To start doing claw setting requires:

  • 4 Claw settings and round stones
  • Burrs (to cut the seats)
  • Pushers or pliers
  • Files and/or burrs to finish the claws

The reason why I think this is one of the more difficult styles of setting to learn is that getting practice pieces can be expensive but being able to accurately cut seats into multiple prongs takes some practice along with being able to finish the setting to a standard suitable for jewellery, so that the claws don’t snag on clothing or catching hairs.

Next Steps – once you have learnt how to set a round stone in a 4 claw settings, you can then advance on to setting stone into pieces with multiple claws and also fancy shapes along with setting stones with points into claws.

Most of the settings that are commonly used in jewellery are a version of one of these 4 setting styles and once you have learnt the basics, you can then begin to start practicing more advanced techniques so that you can progress your skills further.

How to Start Learning Stone Setting

So we’ve been through the tools and looked at some of the setting styles but how can you actually start learning how to set stones?

The best way is to get an apprenticeship but these aren’t the easiest to come by, especially if you live in an area without any jewellery manufacturers but there are some other ways to learn and thanks to the internet, many are available to people all over the world, so let’s look at some of the ways you can start learning about stone setting:

1: Books

One of the more ‘traditional’ ways of learning is to buy and read stone setting books.

This can be a great way to learn for some people and I’ve got some really good setting books but if you are a visual learner, books often aren’t the best as pictures and descriptions, even detailed step-by-step might not give you enough to be able to picture how to do it.

2. YouTube

YouTube is awesome and a great way to start learning some stone setting basics as there are some channels that have tutorials on certain types of settings and others show you their work process, which can show you some things to try. I’ve listed a few channels that are worth checking out:

These are educational channels that have free videos showing how to do some of the basic setting styles and also cover things like tool preparation amongst other things.

3. Online Courses

Free videos will get you so far but if you want to take your stone setting to the next level, you may want to consider doing an online course as they go into much more detail about different types of stone settings and also include additional resources to help you out, with some popular options being:

There are also many stone setters who are developing online courses, such as:

The benefit of taking online courses is that you can take them no matter where you are in the world and for most, you can learn at your own pace, which can be very helpful for some types of settings.

4. In-Person Training

The final option is in-person training, which is how I got started and there are plenty of places around the world that do stone setting training from the basic to advanced styles.

I personally love doing in-person training as it is much easier to ask the tutor questions and get immediate answer (sometimes they’ll even give you a quick demonstration) and you often get hands on quite quickly but I would recommend going to somewhere that has smaller class sizes as you can get more personalised tuition.

And while I love learning this way, there are some drawbacks:

  1. It can be expensive, not only the cost of the course but also travel and accommodation if it isn’t local to you
  2. Limited learning time, many in-person courses are a few days to a couple of weeks, with only a couple doing courses longer than a month (but they are expensive!)

So there are multiple options when it comes to learning about stone setting and it will be down to you, your circumstances and how much money you have to spend as to what is going to be the best option.


I hope this post has been helpful as I tried to cover as much as I could but there is only so much you can put in a blog post but hopefully it has given you some things to think about and look at as you begin your stone setting journey.

When it comes to getting started, I think that learning the basics is very important as is getting the right tools but time spent practicing is by far the most important thing as you will make mistakes but this is good as you learn from this by finding out what doesn’t work and all the great setters I know always look at their work to see what they could do better next time.

As with all skills, learning is a journey not a destination, so make sure you enjoy it, even though there will be times when things don’t go to plan but with time, practice and a willingness to learn, you will start to develop this awesome skill.

I'm Paul Haywood FGA DGA, a fully qualified Gemmologist and Diamond Grader from the Gemmological Association of Great Britain and a lover of all things jewellery.

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