After plenty of work with sterling, I decided to try some fabrication
with 14kt. I am attempting to solder a 14kt bezel onto sterling. The
problem I am having is the 14kt has too much spring. I tried
annealing in hopes that it would soften it somewhat, but that did not
help. The piece I am trying to bezel is on the larger size (1"x1
1/2") and angular. I can't get the bezel to maintain the shape of the
piece. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Also, what is the
preferred solder to use--silver or gold for this application?
Thank you in advance,
What are you using for a torch? Propane/oxygen or air/acetylene?
Annealing my have left the surface oxidized, after pickling rub the
area where the bezel will be added with fine sandpaper 600 or steel
wool (has slight oil content so wash the piece). You need to make
sure the sterling is very clean- and use a paste flux rather than
liquid, and I would reccomend a 14k plumb gold solder-either medium
or easy in several small sections- heat the sterling (from
underneath if possible). Once the solder starts to flow direct some
heat (gently) onto the bezel.
I'm not sure what you mean by getting the bezel to maintain the
shape of the piece. Do you mean the angular base piece or the shape
of the stone? Annealing should help if you're trying to match the
shape of the stone. It you are trying to fit it to a base, it should
be fabricated to match the surface it is being mounted on.
Kate: I just did a 14kt bezel myself for the first time just
recently. I made the bezel myself with a rolling mill so it wasn't
real bezel wire. I have to tell you that for the first time I am
really glad I got a hammer handpiece for my Foredom, thats what it
took to push it all down tight. You might try use a small hammer and
make your own setting tool. Gold isn't soft like silver is, at least
not 14kt. As for solder, use silver solder and use the smallest
amount possible. 14kt is full of copper and you can actually solder
in onto silver just by heating it and fluxing with no solder. We just
had a discussion on this awhile back. Don't solder the gold on until
the last as re-heating will cause the gold to sink into the silver
since the copper content lowers the melting point of silver. Gold
sure makes a difference to silver work though, looks great. Dave
You can use yellow silver solder. inside the bezel, it may not be an
exact colour match but if any happens to bleed through the base it
won't be as noticeable as silver under the gold bezel... or just
stick with silver. taking care not to use more than is necessary.
Make sure you have a perfect fit with the base too- solder isn't like
caulk nor for filling gaps! 14kt is tougher than 18 kt. I'm surprised
if you bought the material dead soft you are finding it springy, out
-of-the-package so to speak. If you bought spring gold then annealing
would do the trick, but ordinary yellow 14 kt should be easy to bend
round the stone and easily burnish over the cab. Work hardening it
from re-straightening it could be a problem too. if so, throw the
piece into the scrap bin and start over with a fresh annealed length
of bezel strip: since you already know the length that fits exactly
and where it needs to be bent handling it can be kept to a minimum so
work hardening isn't an issue at all. Next time though try some 18kt
bezel strip- stepped or not - as it is softer and more forgiving of a
little excessive handling. If you don't have another length of 14 kt
to try, just flux well and anneal so the copper in the alloy doesn't
give you any problems. If you have tried repeatedly with the length
of bezel strip you are posting about and have pickled after each
heating you may have inadvertently depletion gilded the strip and
the gold layer is brought to the top/surface and the alloy may not be
"repacking" correctly. that would explain some spring-like
characteristics to the small length you are working with. hope this
gives you some ideas. rer
Kate- How are you trying to move the bezel? A burnisher or bezel
rocker won't work so well on 14 kt. You'll need a chasing hammer and
small punch to set it. Be sure to move the bezel down a little bit at
a time as evenly as possible. Be sure to slightly bevel the outside
edge to help it move inward. Once the bezel is 80% down over the
stone, then take a half onglette grave and clean up your inside edge
before your take it the rest of the way down.
Kate;, I finally gave up trying to use 14K bezels and on the
suggestion of some Orchid members a long while back, I switched to
18K. The 14K were a real hassle as they fought me every step of the
way. Even using my small hammer did not help. on the other hand, the
l8K were a dream to work with. Alma
You'll need a chasing hammer and small punch to set it. Be sure to
move the bezel down a little bit at a time as evenly as possible. Be
sure to slightly bevel the outside edge to help it move inward. Once
the bezel is 80% down over the stone, then take a half onglette grave
and clean up your inside edge before your take it the rest of the way
Yes you need a chasing hammer and setting punch. An old file tang cut
off and filed to an oblong at the setting end and about 3" long will
work. File the sharp edges off the oblong end and then sand with 400
Do not repeat do not file the outside of the bezel. Get magnifying
glasses and look closely at what you are doing.
Get the bezel 90% down with the first strikes at a 45 degree angle.
Do at 12,6 then 3,9 as on a clock face.
Then go around the whole stone at 45 degrees.
Now go round the stone at 90 degrees, hit the bezel vertically down.
Forget the onglette graver. IMHO a waste of time.
Get barret files from 0 to 4. Bring the edges to a high polish.
File the top edge of the bezel flat. If you have the metal down
properly there will be no gap.
between the stone and the bezel. This works for stones harder than
the file metal.
WIth soft stones e. g. malachite I use a felt buff with hyfin polish
in my flexi to clean up and polish the edge.
You did not post what type of stone you are setting nor the
thickness of the bezel.
I find it easy to get down.8mm up to 1.5mm (mirror setting) thick
bezels this way.
I have set thousands of bezel set stones this way no problems.
In future use 18kt it is quality 14kt is not (even thought legal etc
it is a crap metal)
I have just looked at the original post for this thread. As far as I
can see, Kate is not asking about problems with soldering the bezel
or setting the stone. Her problem seems to be with shaping the bezel
to an irregular shape (I assume she means shaping to the stone, but
it doesn't matter whether she is shaping to the stone or to a base.
the problem is getting the bezel to stay in the desired shape).
Kate, if you have standard 14K material which has been produced by a
reputable manufacturer, there should be no problem. The only reason
it would remain too springy hold a shape is improper annealing. What
is the thickness?
I do a lot of work soldering tiny bits of gold to sterling. Some
1. Before annealing or soldering, I always dip the piece(s) in a
standard mixture of boric acid in denatured alcohol and then ignite
(usually with a lit candle) to burn off the alcohol, leaving the
boric acid coating. In addition to keeping the piece from oxidizing,
this also has the advantage of cleaning the piece, and it also keeps
it shiny if it has been polished.
2. The soldering of gold to silver is MUCH easier with 18K, due to
the greater difference in the melting points.
3. You have a better chance of not melting the gold into the silver
if you use gold solder.
4. Always heat from below!
5. I do all my gold+silver soldering with a large, bushy flame from
a propane-only torch. A hotter torch (e. g., propane+oxygen, or
acetylene) with a more pointed flame GREATLY increases the chances
of melting the gold into the silver.
Janet in Jerusalem
Thanks for your comments about the hammer hand piece. I am just
starting to do pieces with lots of gold bezel-set stones. I am going
to get the hammer hand piece.
Esta Jo Schifter
I haven't read all the posts on this subject, but I have a technique
I've used for years for annealing gold. It involves heating it with
a torch to almost soldering temp, holding it at that temp for a
minute and then quenching it in methyl alcohol instead of pickle. If
it is a small part like a bezel or ring shank, I sometimes just
quench it in the jar of methyl alcohol and boric acid I use as a fire
scale preventative because it is always handy. I don't know why it
works, but it sure does! Good luck!
Casting Product Development
Rio Grande Mfg R&D