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14K Gold bezel is too hard to set


I bought dead soft bezel and after soldering together a pin; I found
to my horror that it was very diificult to push the bezel wire around
the stones. Then I heated the piece again and let it air cool. The
bezel was still very hard to push. I managed to set the stones with a
ball peen hammer. There has to be an easier way to manipulate this
stuff. I am used to working with sterling; is this why I find 14k so
harde? Or, is there a technique, trick,…that I really need to know


My guess iS you didn’t let it got hot enough to anneal or leave it
hot long enough at that heat to cause the metal to soften. Just look
up your annealing temperature for the metal colour and karat if its
not a metal you work with a lot next time before you begin to make
the joins.,quench it in water or alcohol and don’t handle it a lot
after pickling if you pickle it at all before your next process (as
sometimes it isn’t necessary between procedures) or it will get work

So- lets say you have clean metal strip, stepped bezel, or sheet :
coat it with Cupronil or some boric acid/denatured alcohol
solution/flux to help protect it from the torch’s potential oxidising
flame (you have done nothing to it yet but formed the bezel and
degreased it, insured the stone will fit tightly and made sure the
actual metal edges of the join are completely sound) and ready to be
soldered once annealed

  1. Heat it to red for 14 kt yellow (you could preheat it for a short
    while to about 750-1000 F if you have a kiln or furnace but it is
    notnecessary) as soon as it looses colour (black heat) quench it

  2. Quench in water OR water and a little cold pickle or a slightly
    acidic solution (the bezel or workpiece can go right into cold
    pickle if you just treated it with a fire-coat solution)…The metal
    should be softened to DS.

  3. Then again re-coat the warmed piece (should it be necessary*:* if
    you did not use plain water for quenching the piece) with Cupronil
    or a similar solution. Building layers gives the best protection to
    the metal

  4. Then solder your bezel to a backing if your design calls for it or
    just solder the join if that’s the next step. Pickle in ordinary warm
    pickling solution to remove any flux glass that will be visible
    inside once setting has happened after all solder joins are

Since you are going to set a stone polish/texture/engrave/ or finish
the inside of the bezel, if necessary Then solder closed.- You may
need to anneal if it has gotten work hardened from handling and the
metal has shrunken from heating it again during solder operations.

Hope this clarifies the process. kind of a review of the steps you
are going through. Oh and a ball peen hammer? there are far better
things you can use to close or rub the metal over the stone. That’s
overkill- try a bezel rocker, a burnisher, a hammer hand-piece in
your flexshaft, etc.

Using a ball peen hammer and a setting tool like a masonry nail that
you have roughened (or polished depending on your approach and the
stone’s hardness).sets you up for mishaps like the punch gouging the
setting or slipping over the stone and scratching it. Hope this
helps… rer


I finally gave up working with 14K bezels, and now use 18K. Much
easier. Alma


Hi Mike

When I work with 14kt bezel, I make sure it is thin, like 28g.,
sometimes a tad thinner. I find when it comes to 14kt, either white
or yellow or rose alloys, I have to hammer set the stones. The 14kt
alloy is tough, and it is like working with nickel or steel at
times. 18kt and 22ktare best for bezels, but most people prefer 14kt
for it’s what they areused to. If you are going to continue to work
in 14kt, I would recommend you learn to hammer set. Hammer-setting
bezels is a lot easier thantrying to push bezel over with bezel
pusher, burnisher or rocker. I don’t even try to burnish or use
bezel pusher anymore on 14kt, unless I want to burnish the edges.

Hammer-setting isn’t complicated, but requires good control. I use a
scriber that I cut the point off, grounded the end into a 1/8"
slightly domed tip, but don’t polish it, and then use that to push
bezel down with a chasing hammer. Think of it as a mini jack-hammer.
I’ll planish thebezel after I finish hammering the bezel down onto
the stone with my stonesetting stone. The silversmith in me has to
planish whatever I hammer anything.

Other goldsmiths on Ganoksin can give you more advice and
suggestions. It took me some time to get comfortable hammer-setting
but it’s now second nature to me.



Do not air cool 14k… heat to a dull red color and then quench it
in pickle. This will anneal it. Will still be harder then silver but
not too much. Make lots of jewelry and enjoy the learning process.

Or, is there a technique, trick,....that I really need to know

By now, GRS tools needs to start giving me kickbacks for promoting
their products, but I use a GraverMax (and sometimes a Chicago
Pneumatics air scribe) and can close any bezel of any thickness, in
any metal.

A customer had a 10mm round “Mystic” topez she wanted set in a
platinum-irid mounting, and no local jewelers would accommodate her,
I told her that if she’s forgive me if I broke the stone, I’d
attempt it (It was the first such stone I tried to set when I bought
my GraverMax).

The GraverMax set it no problem, and I was also able to place a nice
milligrain around the inside of the bezel as well.

Paf Dvorak


Oh yes I remember my first encounter with Mystic Topaz. I had to
repair a stock silver bracelet, I did the repair, soldering with the
stones protected, no problem, I then put it in the hot pickle to
clean, “Bingo” the Topaz was no longer “Mystic” just a clear
crystal. Learned my lesson wouldn’t even put it in the Ultrasonic
after that. There are “friends” who still remind me of my Faux pas.
Soft 14ct for setting, alloy some yourself, I probably have a
formula somewhere in the little book Mr Green, the craftsman I first
served under in 1961, gave me. It has been so useful over the years
for producing my own alloys. I’ll see if I can find you one inmy
chart of alloys and their mechanical properties. People don’t seem
to alloy with applications in mind. We used to have mixes for pen
nibs, springs, settings etc. alloying gold is very easy with
accurate scales and a knowledge of metal proportions in the mix. I
find the hammer attachment on my pendant drill great for bringing
over metal onto a stone, if you are careful, particularly now as my
hands do not have the strength they used tohave. Regards Hamish