I’ve been making a lot of earrings lately, and so I decided I wanted to try my hand at setting some stones in the engraved areas of my designs. This is a pretty straightforward process, but it’s made even easier with the cabochon jig I made. In my first attempts I used my calipers to measure the stone and then set the width in illustrator. The issue with this, was it was hard to determine if it was going to fit exactly without testing an engrave first. Thus, the idea for the jig (yes I know it’s probably not really a jig by the definition of the word, but I’m using it). If you’d like the fire for yourself, just read on!

Once you’ve made this once you’ll realize that sometimes even if s stone is labeled as being a certain size, It might be slightly off and need a bit more or less space.
I bought a lot of labradorite cabochons from eBay that came in a variety of unlabelled sizes,
You can decide on whether you want a very tight fit or loose fit. With natural stone each one can be slightly different.

Using this jig allows you to feel for a perfect fit with any standard smallish oval and circle cabochon you might have. Doing the research for this taught me that in jewelry making cabochons follow the same ratio as they increase in size – this is pretty consistent across the industry so this should work for a lot of what’s out there.

Here you can see the design for a set of earrings.
After setting the strokes to outlines I used the pathfinder to merge the artwork. This will keep everything from getting cut out in tons of little parts.
Here is the merged artwork.
After you check and match your stones you can set up the files and forge your designs.
Here is an attempt to cut a scrap of walnut – I can tell the settings were too intense. It looks a little burnt but once it’s oiled and cleaned it should be ok.
Here are the cabochons set in the design.
Here you can see the difference in profile depth between the stone sitting in a double pass engrave and the original stone.

I found that double engraving the stone setting (see below) helped keep everything a little more secure. It was necessary, but for higher profile stones it can’t hurt. All you have to do is make sure you engrave for the stones (and only the stones – no need to waste time) are a different color in your artwork so they will separate into different steps in the Glowforge interface,

For this test piece I just glued in the cabochon with super glue. E600 or an 5 minute epoxy would probably be a great idea.
All of these designs are in proofgrade maple. I haven’t decided if I want to try and paint or alter them in some way as the maple color feels a bit unfinished to me.

At last! Here is all the good stuff! If you’d like to make a cabochon jig of your own you can download the file right here.

This PDF is set up in layers so if you DO want to double engrave the wells or just cut them out instead to save time, you can grab the content on the corresponding layer and change the color. In my case I engraved everything except the lines which I scored, and the border which I cut.

Obligatory code plug. If you found this post helpful and you plan to buy a Glowforge you can use my code for a discount: https://glowforge.us/r/QHDONFXB

And finally, if you’d like to be updated on posts like these int he future you can sign up for my email list. You will only receive an email if there is new content, and only once weekly in the case:

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