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14K Bezel frustrations


#1

O.K., O.K. I know that I should not have even thought of buying 14K
bezels, but I did. I also know that I should have gotten 18K, or 22K
bezels but the high price of gold scared me into getting the 14K
bezels. Bad idea. Big mistake.

I am having a terrible time trying to get the darn things to do what
beze ls are supposed to do. They are so springy and hard, that as
soon
as I get one side pushed in, the other side springs out. I have tried
using a bezel roller, my bezel pusher, and my small French hammer.
All to no avail.

Does anyone have any suggestions to help me, or am I stuck with four
12" lengths of 14K bezel in narrow, medium, wide, and extra wide
widths?

Went through the Orchid archives in hopes of finding a solution, but
all I found was verification that one is asking for trouble trying to
work with 14K bezels. However, perhaps someone has found a way to
deal with these obstinate l4K bezels.

I have been trying to set 6 mm, and 8X10 mm. stones. Would I have
more success if I used the 14K bezels on larger stones for example in
the 12X18mm range? In other words,would the size of the stone make a
difference when using 14K bezels. Just a wild thought. Shows how
desperate I am,and frustrated.

Alma


#2
In other words,would the size of the stone make a difference when
using 14K bezels. 

Absolutely, but.

Its not the size of the stones per se, its the amount of bend you
have to seduce the metal to. A short radius bezel is under more
stress when setting. That is, the metal has to crush somewhat because
you’re basically taking a 6mm(for example) circle and mushing it down
to 5 or 5.5 or something. Metal stretches OK but shrinking is
different.

It seems counterintuitive but a thicker material bends more easily
in the case of bezels. I haven’t quite figured it out but that’s my
observation. Maybe it has to do with the inner and outer walls being
more closely integrated…any stress induced to one transfers
directly to the other. Whereas a thick bezel has all that gooey gold
to disperse the stress. I dunno, I’m not an engineer.

But what can you do to alleviate the problem since you have the
bezel strip already? You can cut a relief inside the bezel at an
appropriate height, this gives a weaker place where the strip can
bend. Tricky though, cut too deep and the strip will want to fold
along the relief giving you a dishonorable bezel. Or, make the bezel
deliberately a bit too large. Now you can whack away at it without
the fear of chipping the girdle, well, reduced fear anyway. Also how
you hammer the bezel has an impact(no pun intended). A natural
inclination is to start hammering at the base but sometimes its
better to start near the top, since the top has the farthest distance
to go. The ‘slack’ in the area below where you’re hammering acts a as
kind of buffer zone allowing the compression I mentioned before. If
you’re hammering from base up you are concentrating the stress
further and further up til the top edge gets very stiff and resistant.

If springiness is the culprit, alternate where you hammer. Don’t try
to chase the bezel round n round in a circumferential progression.
Tap in one spot then 120 away and so forth. Hold the hammer handpiece
at a steep angle s= o the force is as much down as across. Bring the
bezel in in little steps, so that you don’t wind up with a very
difficult ‘flap’ that refuses to disappear.

all I found was verification that one is asking for trouble trying
to work with 14K bezels 

After having worked mostly in 18K for a long while I admit that 14K
gives me trouble now and then, mostly because I just rush to use 18K
technique without thinking before doing.


#3
Does anyone have any suggestions to help me, or am I stuck with
four 12" lengths of 14K bezel? 

If the strip is not too too thin, you could use it to set fairly
flat stones by sawing pair of cuts about halfway down and 1mm apart
at intervals-- this creates little “prongs” you then bend down over
the stone. The rest of the material remains standing, so this is a
good way to protect fragile stones like opals. (I use this technique
in a silver and titanium bracelet that I wrote up for Art Jewelry,
scheduled, I believe, for the July issue.)

You could also cut the upper edge into zigzags or scallops so you’re
bending down all the little points.

Or you could weave the strips to make material for bracelets or
whatever, and buy higher-karat bezel.

Noel


#4

Have you tried annealing the bezels before you set the stone? We were
taught many years ago to make a small punch from square steel stock,
and work down and in with firm but cautious hammer strokes. These
days I use a Graver Max to work the bezels. You will need to clean up
the top edge with a SHARP graver, which after cutting foreword to
remove the waviness, you can then draw backwards, with slight down
press, pushing away from the stone surfaceslightly. This burnishes
the metal down onto the stone. The rubber wheel, etc the clean up
outside of bezel. I also use a burnisher made from a stainless steel
fork tine, an idea from one of the New Approach School videos. Agreat
burnisher for the inside surface of the pushed down bezel, to get it
tight to the stone surface, and it will not scratch most gemstones.
If you haven’t seen Blaine Lewis’ New Approach videos they might be a
big help.

Also slightly thinning the top area of the bezel, and giving the
upper edge a “bevel” away from the stone, for you to place the punch
or burnisher, is a big help, as the metal is going to thicken as you
drive it down and toward the center and that makes it want to buckle.

Good luck. Jim


#5

Did you anneal the metal first? This will soften the metal and will
be easier to work with What gauge are you using?

Thanks Johneric


#6

I understand your frustration.

Having the right tools and the right technique is the solution. I use
a ball burr on the inside and remove metal just below the top edge,
when I go to push the bezel against the stone, there is not as much
resistance. On some bezels, the top outside edge is thinned down.
Sometimes a bezel pusher will work, sometimes from experience I know
I have to start with a hammer handpiece. At 60 years old, I have less
strength than I used to, and the hammer handpiece is used more often.
Good aim and patience are very important when using the hammer
handpiece. A slow and steady hand moving the handpiece exactly where
it needs to go each second you use it. I actually find that I hold my
breath to be as steady as I need to be to not find the surface of the
stone with the hammer handpiece.

Having your piece in a vice or an engraving block will increase
chance of success as you will not be working against yourself trying
to hold the piece with leverage against the force you are applying
to bend the metal and not holding it immobile. When bezel setting the
stone, I start on one long side and move a little metal, go to the
other side and go back and forth to center the stone, then do each
end. I have to determine before I start how much force I need before
I start, as the work hardening will be the only issue that will lead
to problems and frustration. My opinion is that a certain amount of
strength is needed if you do not have a hammer hand piece, and
lacking the strength or the handpiece, people resort to higher karat
bezels. Thousands of pieces of jewelry are made every day with 14kt
bezels.

Richard Hart


#7
fold along the relief giving you a dishonorable bezel. 

And we wouldn’t want that!! Lot’s of good advise, but I’ll just sum
up an important thing. Gold bezel is different than fine silver
bezel. The bigger the stone and bezel, the thicker the bezel needs to
be or it will just spring. Standard fine silver gauge is what? 28
gauge? I forget… That in 14kt. is probably good up to 6-10 mm max
without getting into springing issues - smaller than that is better.
It’s the diameter of the circle (shape) that prevents the springing -
a small diameter will stay a circle when you push - get a little
bigger and the other side kicks out when you push, thus the need for
thicker metal. That can be dealt with by some of the advise given -
Neil and Richard were right on.

Many people try to set a stone too deep, too, and the bezel has to go
inwards by 1/3 or something, which is never going to happen. On a
well cut stone you should just be pinching the bezel down a bit, not
trying to pound it inwards by 2mm or something. Anyway, the real
solution is to use your thin wire for small stones, and use thicker
for larger stones. And make sure it’s annealed, as has been said. Or
turn it into gallery wire, which has also been said.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#8

But what can you do to alleviate the problem since you have the
bezel strip already? You can cut a relief inside the bezel at an
appropriate height, this gives a weaker place where the strip can
bend. Tricky though, cut too deep and the strip will want to fold
along the relief giving you a dishonorable bezel.

To further the question, is that how one can set a stone w/ an almost
perpendicular bend in the bezel, a look that is so attractive in some
cases, i.e. w/ a beautifully clean blue chalcedony?

If so, how do you calculate the thing to pull it off? What’s the
secret?

Intrigued,
Kay Taylor


#9

I missed the question and saw some answers. Where I work almost all
we do are 14K bezels, both in white and yellow. We have started
using the palladium/14k from Hoover for some of the white ones. And
some of the things we set in those, make us cringe. The azurite
bluberry halves, tourmaline slices, trillion apatites and so many
other fragile items. We almost always use 28g if we want a little
heavier look we might use 26g. Make sure the piece is annealed well
before setting. Some times a groove cut on the inside (where you want
it to bend) with a ball bur helps. Just take it slow and easy. It
helps to have the piece held solid. We use plasticene and also a hot
glue gun to mount the piece to a piece of wood, then set the wood in
a vice. This allows both hands for using hammer and little setting
tools. Again Take it slow and easy, give yourself lots of time to go
away from the project and gather your wits and your calm. If your
stressing it will cause you problems. And like Noel said you can
always cut the bezel down to make tabs or prongs.

Good Luck,
Candy


#10

Thanks to all of you who responded to my plea for help with 14K
bezels. As far as annealing them, I would imagine that they would
become annealed when I soldered the ends together, and gave them even
more heat when I attached them to the metal which forms the back of
the piece. However, I will do even more annealing in hopes that the
bezels will become more resiliant.

Your suggestions are all very valuable. I will probably do what Noel
suggested, and cut little slits, or scallops in the tops of the
bezels and use them that way. I do have some irregular cut stones,
with some high and low areas, and scalloping the bezel should work
with them. Thanks Noel. I would not have thought of this.

Believe me, once I have used up the 14K bezel strips, I will work
primarily with 18K and 22K. Bezels, higher cost not withstanding.
Alma


#11

Candy,

also a hot glue gun to mount the piece to a piece of wood, then
set the wood in a vice. 

Thanks for the tip. I’m in the middle of a 14k piece and am not
looking forward to setting the stone. A very gemmy piece of natural
Turquoise rivaling Persian Turquoise. I have one question. How do you
get the piece off the wood that you used the hot glue gun on?

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado
rockymountainwonders.com


#12

To add: My first experience with gold bezel was setting a gorgeous
Chrysoprase in a 14K Stepped Bezel! That was 20 years ago in a class
at Ghost Ranch, with Lee Hageman, from Maryville, MO, teaching the
class. I had the stuff, and Lee didn’t see a problem. It took me
almost all day to tap, tap with a polished, cut off nail and little
hammer, going from 12-6; 3-9, always on the opposite side, going
around the “clock”. Naturally, I hadn’t had the experience of the
great responses from Orchid members to ANNEAL the bezel. I have
really learned a lot from these threads!! Thanks

I now have the hammer for the Foredom - great addition, but still
use the polished nail and little hammer on many stubborn bezels. Now
if you can’t find the nail, try finding one nail to replace it - have
to buy a box of 50!!! Where are the old bins of nails?

I generally get 18K bezel now - most of that bezel acquired from a
jeweler’s wife (1968 prices) is now gone!

Am toying with the idea now of doing some lost wax casting for some
settings of Boulder Opal. My UPS shipment finally got here yesterday
with the Loot from Tucson. There are some really neat cabs, beads,
and slabs talking to me! Can hardly wait to create!

Rose Marie Christison


#13

Relative to bezel setting in a rather heavy 14k gold bezel, have you
considered or trying a hammer handpiece & just upsetting the top edge
sufficiently hold the stone in place? It would seem that his approach
might work unless you’ve got a very fragile stone. If the bezel is
too high to begin with, the height could be reduce by filing prior to
inserting the stone. Then, if the top, outside edge of the bezel is
deformed, the deformed portion could be corrected by filing &
polishing.

Dave


#14

Rick,

To remove the peice from the glue and the plasticene we use steam
and or very HOT water.

Good luck.
Candy


#15
How do you get the piece off the wood that you used the hot glue gun
on? 

Wouldn’t something like Jettset or Thermoloc be more effective and
less messy?

Helen
UK


#16
To remove the peice from the glue and the plasticene we use steam
and or very HOT water. 

This sounds dangerous.

Rick what has worked for me is a Raytex dopping unit. I don’t know if
they still make these. It’s 7" x 4" x 4" metal box that uses a 100
watt bulb as the heating element. I just used it to heat a large
irregular opal which I glued to a piece of MDF. My reason was to
protect the face and to use the MDF as a holder for sawing.

I heated both the stone and MDF on the dopping unit, and then used a
heat gun and a glue stick to glue the stone to the MDF. I turned off
the dopping unit and let the stone and MDF cool down on the dopping
unit.

I’ve heating opals to the point that you would burn your fingers if
you tried to pick them up. It’s thermal shock that destroys stone not
the temperature.

KPK


#17
Wouldn't something like Jettset or Thermoloc be more effective and
less messy? 

Many times we use the jettset plasticene 1st then hold that on the
block with hot glue, (low temp) because the plasticene tends to
break loose frome the wood. Sometimes just the glue gun and sometimes
just the plasticene. Oh yeah and mineral spirits will disolve any
glue residue.

Candy


#18
Many times we use the jettset plasticene 1st then hold that on the
block with hot glue, (low temp) because the plasticene tends to
break loose frome the wood. Sometimes just the glue gun and
sometimes just the plasticene. 

Could you clarify your terms; in one place you say ‘jettset
plasticene’ and then ‘plasticene’ by itself.


#19
Many times we use the jettset plasticene 1st then hold that on the
block with hot glue, (low temp) because the plasticene tends to
break loose frome the wood. 

I thought the whole point of Jettset and Thermo-loc is that when warm
you can mould it and when room temperature or cold, it is "rock"
hard. I use these properties to set all my stones in the jewellery I
make. I don’t need to mount the Thermo-loc onto wood in order to put
it in my vice because I mould the actual material into a shape with a
flat portion on the top (into which I set the piece of jewellery) and
a vertical flange underneath. You put this flange into the vice while
it’s still maleable and tighten the jaws just enough so as to mould
the sides of the flange to the flat surfaces of the vice jaws. At the
same time, I make sure that the piece of jewellery is mounted in the
top part in such a way that it won’t move at all when the Thermo-loc
cools and that there is no Thermo-loc in the way of the bezels or
prongs to be turned over onto the stone - and that with open
settings, I’ve left enough room for the pavilion and culet of the
stone. I leave it like that in the jaws of the vice to cool while
mounting the next piece into a second piece of Thermo-loc. The first
one is then hard enough to hold its shape so can be taken out and
the second one can be shaped in the vice jaws. When the “piece” is
put into the vice again, in order to set the stones, it can be
tightened more than before so that the vice grips it better and so it
can’t move. Once all my stones are set, I put the lumps of Thermo-loc
and jewellery back into the container of water in which I first
heated the material, and it can then be reheated in the microwave to
soften the material and take out the jewellery, ready for a final
polish. I’m confused about the need for a piece of wood or MDF.

Helen
UK