[Beginners' Corner] Step Bezel Wire

can someone tell me what step-bezel wire is ? thanks bari

Hi Bari,

  can someone tell me what step-bezel wire is ? thanks bari<< 

I think you’re referring to bezel wire that is ‘h’ or ‘chair’
shaped in cross section. To use it, bezel wire is formed around
the periphery of the stone with the seat of the chair below the
stone & on the inside. The short portion of the wire then forms
the seat the stone is set on. The ‘back of the chair’ is pressed
over the edge of the stone, holding firmly on the seat.


Hello Bari, Step bezel wire appears sort of L shaped in
cross-section. It is sold by the inch. If you curl it into the
shape and size of a stone, the bottom of the L will form a seat
for the stone to rest upon. Have fun. Tom Arnold

It’s bezel wire with a shoulder inside to seat the stone on, so
it is held up higher than the actual bottom of the bezel.

Speaking of which - I haven’t heard anyone mention gallery wire.
Is it “out”? I used to use it 25 years ago to make some
interesting effects.


Stepped bezel is a strip of metal consisting of two
thicknesses. When the ends are soldered to form a bezel (a
mounting for a gem that completely surrounds the stone in a
"wall" of metal), it forms a “step” or a ledge on the interior
wall which supports the base of the stone. The upper portion
which is thinner can then be filed and rolled over the top of the
stone to secure it.

Shari VanderWerf
Vanguard Studio
Stoughton, Massachusetts

Step Bezel is actually “stepped” The bottom part is thicker
than the top part, so (I’m assuming, since I’ve never used it)
the stone sits on the step and not at the bottom of the bezel. I
don’t have any idea what It may be used for. If I want to raise
my stone, I just put more sawdust inside the bezel before putting
the stone in it and tightening the bezel.

The idea behind a stepped bezel wire is that for OPEN BACKED
bezels, it’s a one step (pun intended) product. You make a
single bezel, solder it shut, and the seat is already there to
set the stone onto. you don’t have to add an inner ring, or a
back. It’s of little sense if you’re using cabs with sawdust
and closed backings on the bezel. They make more sense with
transparent stones, both cabs and facetted ones, where you might
want an open back.

One limit to a stepped bezel is that the step changes the way
the wire bends. Normally, when you bend a wire, the length of the
wire stays constant along the center line of the wire’s
thickness, while the inner circumfrence compresses and the outer
circumfrence stretches. With a stepped bezel, you’ve moved that
effective "center line, and what happens when you go to bend the
stuff in a curve is that the upper flat portion tries to again
center itself over the center of the cross section of the thicker
lower part, so it ends up distorted, with the upper part pulled
in over the step, as though you’d already compressed it in over a
stone a little. Before you set the stone, you then have to open
that bezel back up again. It’s less work to do that than to
make a whole seperate inner seat and solder it into a straight
bezel, But it’s still a pain in the rear, and when you factor in
the added cost of buying that stock instead of just making your
own flat stock, it becomes a product that most “pros” use only
rarely… One variation on the simple step bezel that partly
solves this problem is a version where in addition to the square
step on the inside of the bezel, there is also a decorative half
round (or other) bead on the outside of the bezel wire. Not only
does this make a simple decorated frame in one step, but it moves
the center of mass of the lower thick portion of the bezel to
coincide better with the thin upper part, so when bent into a
bezel, the upper rim doesn’t pull in so much… It’s usually not
perfect, but it’s better…

1 Like


  1. It uses less material, saving $$$ and reducing weight. 2. It
    can be faster than a box bezel to make. 3. If needed, it allows
    light to show through the stone from below.**

**(Plagiarized from Tim McCreight)

1 Like

Hi all, Step bezel is wonderful to set stones that you don’t want
a backing plate on. I have used it on many projects lately. For
a clear rultilated quarz pendant and many others. It saves money
on gold sheet and is strong enough to hold the stone secure.
Janine in Redding CA.

– When you use step bezel, the stone sits on the ledge, so you
can set your stone without a metal backing. This exposes the
back of the stone, which might add to the beauty, and it also
results in a much lighter piece.


I’ve tried to use step bezel wire to make bezels, but I find it
to be awkward to form to the desired shape. The step part makes
the bezel wire too rigid to suit my taste. Also, the material I
got, from Rio Grande, is in sterling, rather than fine silver, so
is harder to work with over stones. However, I find it makes a
nice reinforcing edge to work into my designs, where there is a
straight line involved. You can sweat solder a piece of sheet
metal to the thinner part of the step bezel wire, butting the
thick edge up to it. This is stronger than the join you would
get by soldering a piece of rectangular or square wire to achieve
the same effect. I use this technique most frequently when using
reticulated sheet. It provides a sterling edge to solder
additional parts to. Reticulated sheet is more porous than
sterling, and generally makes a weaker solder joint. This
description probably makes no sense at all! But, I enjoy using
things in ways not originally intended by the manufacturer.
Don’t we all! :slight_smile:

Judith Marsh

Orchid Digest Post:
Re: [Orchid] [Beginners’ Corner] Step Bezel WireFrom: Marion Margoshes mbm@panix.com

I frequently use step bezels for my enamels, which sometimes
tend to be heavy. The back of the enamel is usually beautiful,
so it is nice to expose it. I have trouble setting when the
piece is large, but the smaller pieces do well. Another problem,
these are sterling settings, and when I make traditional bezels,
I use fine silver, which is much more malleable. ==Pisces

From: Kathy Palochak kpalchk@trib.com

I’ve never used step bezel wire, but maybe this trick will help
those who have trouble getting the inside to form.

Indians in the Southwest U.S. have a trick to bend wire to an
inside curve, when it must be a tight curve and it would
otherwise crinkle. They saw slits on the inside curve. This
removes metal and allows a smaller radius to be achieved. When
soldered, a little extra solder judiciously used, the slits are
invisible. Smart, huh? K.P.

From: AStick7910@aol.com

   I find it makes a nice reinforcing edge to work into my
designs, where there is a straight line involved.  

What a great idea! I, too, hate commercial step bezel. I make my
own, fusing or soldering a small strip for the “step” onto a
wider , flat commercial bezel wire, which is fine silver. You
have to file the edge to make the pieces fit right, it’s harder
to get the edges to meet than just flat bezel wire. I really find
the easiest thing to do is just make an additional ring of
shorter bezel, and solder it inside the bigger bezel for a step.
I use this kind of setting for round or oval faceted stones. Anne

From: Deewo@aol.com

Step bezel is used to set stones without having to solder the
bezel to a base. Saves on silver (or gold…which can be much
more economical) Depending on the height of the shoulder, you can
set the stone high or low. Just measure the bezel, cut it, make
ONE seam, and it’s ready to receive the stone. Less weight, less
polishing, same effect. It has its

From: Irisann@aol.com

Step bezel is sometimes used for mounting transparent stones such
as amber, quartz, etc. so that the light will shine through.
Seems to work okay. Iris in Baltimore