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Bezel holding question

I have a question that maybe someone here on Orchid can help me with.
Some of my customers (retail jewelers) really seem to like shallow tapered bezels, especially as dangles for earrings or as a design element.
(Stuller #574 is a perfect example of these bezels)
Has anyone a trick or technique for holding these very shallow, but tapered bezels while setting stones in them, when they are not already soldered in place where the piece itself cannot be used to hold them while setting?

Because these bezels are extremely shallow they are always extremely difficult to hold onto when trying to set a gem in them, if to be used as a design element to be attached later.

I have tried using setting shellac and thermo plastic, but the bezels usually spin right out while cutting seats, so this seldom works out for me.

For several years I have been using the barrel of an old Sterling Silver, Parker ball point pen for holding some of the larger bezels. With the pen barrel soldered to a bezel I can use the pen barrel to hold the bezel while setting the gemstone. I then have to cut away the solder, and a bit of the pen itself, especially if the gemstone will not take the heat of unsoldering it afterward.
This technique has worked, but is very time consuming and wasteful, and I was hoping someone else might have a better suggestion than I have come up with.


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In addition to what you have already tried, try covering the back with tape and then embed the bezel in hot glue. I keep small squares of pvc molding with a dab of hot glue on each side. When I need to hold something small, usually when I need to engrave it, I hit the glue with a quick flame from my portable torch and put the piece tape side down into the glue. This way you aren’t peeling glue from the piece when you are done. You can also try lapidary dopping wax. It works a lot like thermoplastic. Dopping wax is very brittle when set. If you are setting your stones with a punch, the setting force might shatter the solid dopping wax. If you are using a punch, drill a hole in a piece of steel that will support the bezel, but not allow the back of the stone to touch the metal, and then punch away. Good luck…Rob

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Give superglue a try. I use Loctite 454 on brass rods for cutting opals. I remove a finished opal by heating the brass rod with a torch. It takes only 15-20 seconds for the glue to fail and I can easily pull the opal off the rod. Occasionally an opal will fall off before I can grab it.

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I think she needs a way to hold the bezel itself, not the stone.
At least that is how I interpret it, with the pen body and pictures.

And sadly, I do not have a tip for you.
Unless you make your own “pen body”, but you end up with the same, solder and cut problem.

Some kind of conical wise device should be possible, but there are literally thousands out there doing this, so there should be many ways.

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Thanks for the tips, both the hot glue and super glue suggestions have merit. I now have ideas to play with.
The brass rod also makes sense.
Over the decades I always soldered hard to hold settings onto pieces of scrap, as I never wanted to use anything but gold or silver, but these days my access to sacrificable scraps has dropped to zero.

I usually set bezels using a GraverMax, air tool, with the holder clamped in a BenchMate holder, or a engraving block, so fragile material like dopping wax does not hold solidly enough. The thermo setting plastic has similar issues.

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This is probably a long shot and a little expensive but how about lathe collets?
Something like this: https://littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID=2558&category=

And a collet block like this: https://littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID=4106&category=

The collet block probably wouldn’t fit into your BenchMate or ball vice but probably something could be rigged up to hold it.

The ER32, ER25, 5C, R8 are tapers for different lathes and mills. If you have no lathe then it probably won’t matter much.h R8 collets are a bit longer than 5C collets. I don’t know about the ER collets.

– alonzo

hi,
hmmm… ok…what about making two narrow blocks out of hardwood or brass…V notched or C notched, tapered vertically, with a slight lip , like a prong that has been pushed over, to use in ball vice/ benchmate…that would make contact with bezel at 11 oclock to 1 oclock, and 5 oclock to 7 oclock…the sides of the bezel would be free and clear to hammer down…then spin the bezel to finish the other sides…

kind of like tapered mini V jaws with a lip

my imagination started with…holding the bezel in a 3 or 4 prong setting…then…how to make that prong setting in 2 pieces, and adjustable, to accommodate different diameter size bezels…

julie

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These are the type of bezels that I am discussing.
They come in a wide range of sizes and can be extremely dufficult to hold unless soldered to something I can hold in my hand or clamp into a vise, graver’s ball, or BanchMate while I work the bezel with the airtools.

When I made many more small bezels for large employers, I prefered to make my bezels from straight wall tubing that I can work in a watchmaker’s lath, or use the flex shaft handpiece as a lathe to drill, set, polish and trim.

I no longer have access to a watchmaking lathe, and make far fewer small bezels, and then as a trade shop usually the retail jeweler provides the settings, so I have to adapt and work with findings of their choice, not my own.

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What is that water soluble holding stuff that all the companies use now? Loctite seems like it but I’m having a brain cramp. Just push the locktite like stuff over 3 points of the bezel to hold it down. leaving three other points uncovered. Then water it down and loose the stuff, and do it in reverse spots. It should hold it just fine.

Seems like you have a big enough order to invest in a length of tubing. Set one stone then cut off the tube. If the tubing is small enough, it can be held with a flex shaft. The tools can be handheld.

Great idea, but the bezel appears to be tapered. There may not be enough thickness in the tubing wall to create this taper after the stone is set.

Hi,
you might try JettSett basic…it is sticky when softened
and i find it much easier to hold small parts with…easier to embed pieces into it, versus Jett Ballistic…which is more plasticy…Thermoloc is a bit less plasticy and a bit more sticky that Jett Ballistic…but Jett Basic is more viscose (if that is the right word)…like honey…

it sticks to the piece and makes great contact

i live it best

it is clear when soft…white when hard

gem must be able to take the heat required to remove the piece from the holding product

julie

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Thanks everyone for the tips and suggestions.
I am going to play with some of your ideas, and see what works best.

Today I grabbed some 1/2" Aluminum rod at Home Depot, and knocked out several simple experimental holders that I can clamp in the ball vise to play with.
I will play with hot glue, and just ordered some glue sticks designed for the body and fender industry, for pulling dents. That sounds like it should hold up to setting with a punch.

I have plenty of jet set already

If this works as well as I expect, I can see how I may use these little holders for more than just holding bezels. I made several small holders because I anticipate they will come in quite handy.
I would have used brass, had it been avaiable in 1/2", but Al should work just fine.

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This was the specific project that my customer, a retail jeweler contracted, using their customer’s wedding band and two @7mm and two @8mm stones.

The shallow tapered bezels needed to be set before assembly. I then laser welded them inside the band. Sentimental.

Anyway, the project was a success, but doing it the way I did was time consuming, and highlighted a recurring problem when my customers send me this type of bezel.

Thanks everyone for your ideas and suggestions!

3 Likes

hi,

try sawing one of your aluminum jigs in 3 pieces, vertically…set the center piece aside…then use a hart bur to cut a very slight seat just below the top edge…and then continue to smooth out the tapered seat

try seeing it that will work as two jaws to clamp the bezel in a ball vice

the lip will keep the bezel from popping out

play around and file the lip as narrow as possible, to be abke to access and hammer the bezel edge, while maintaining the under bezel for support…spin the bezel to access fresh bezel

julie

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Hi again,

oh! sorry!…actually, you dont need to cut a seat, just solder 2 tabs/ prongs at top edge….maybe 3 total
2 in one side, 1 on other side…no tipping

julie

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I think that the hot glue or jetset may work better for me than a clamp rig, at least for thos type of bezel.
I need to hold bezels in such a way as to be able to quickly, efficiently work the top edge all the bezel way around a gemstone equalling either with a hammer and punch, or my air tool.
I have yet to test the hot glue idea.
In the past I always achieved the solid base required for hammer setting by soldering the shallow bezels to scrap that I can shape to protectvthe culet while working a bezel.

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I have yet to test the hot glue idea, which is what my new aluminum holders are designed to do.
In the past I have always achieved the solid base that is required for hammer setting these bezels by soldering the shallow bezels on to pieces scrap Gold or Sterling that I can hold in the ball vise, and then shape to protect the culet of a stone while working the bezel over the girdle.
With the cost of “scrap” today, (and now, also being “retired”, where scrap metal is no longer readily available), I am trying to achieve a similar solid base, on a budget, and also on a quickly repeatable scale.

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I’ve used cheap shellac flakes melted to hold very similar bezels. This setter’s shellac is available in most any jewelers supply house. Gentle torch heat to soften a layer of flakes on a piece of wood, place your bezel in it. Removal is the reverse, plus you can use a solvent to get out stubborn bits up in the inside.