It is interesting how everything seems to be cyclic even as an instructor. One topic will be hot for a while, and then crickets on that topic. And just when you think you won’t be teaching that topic again, people start asking when the next class is.

So here is a quick tutorial, since I have not taught a class on simple tab settings in a while, but I am getting questions on it. The nice thing about tab settings, is you aren’t limited to just setting cabochons, it is great for setting found items also.

There are a number of styles of tab settings. The key to having a successful tab setting is making sure that as you design it, that you have tabs, set in the best locations, so your item cannot slide out after you have set it using the tabs. Tab settings are usually three or more tabs, with four to six being the most common depending on size and shape of the item to be set.

One of the most basic is called a turtle setting. It is called this as the piece looks much like a turtle when you cut it out and before you set the stone. The easiest way to start this is to trace your stone on your metal. Then add the head (which will be the bail for a jump ring) and the legs (which will become the tabs). The length of the legs depends on the height of the stone you are setting. Once the turtle is cut out, the hole punched into the head, and the legs, head and body have been filed, sanded and polished, the tabs can be bent straight up and the stone put into position. The tabs can then be pressed over the stone to capture it.

Then there are various variations of this theme. Instead of cutting the back plate flush with the stone as in the turtle setting, the tabs cuts can create a decorative framework for the stone.

Or the tabs can be cut from the inside area of the back plate so that there are interesting cut outs showing the back of the stone when you flip the piece over. Or you can create a top layer that has the tabs and is riveting to the back plate.

There are more variations out there, but this should get you and your creativity started.

turtle tab setting example
outside tab setting example
inside tab setting example
double layer inside tab setting example