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Bezel setting opal in 18k


#1

Hi Orchid, I have a very nice 3ct ethiopian welo opal that i made an
18k yellow bezel for as the center of a larger argentium pendant. I
usually only set sapphires or other very hard stones in 18k,
otherwise i mostly work with argentium and fine silver but this opal
looked so good next to 18k, i couldn’t resist making the bezel 18k.
So now the piece looks fantastic but i’m wondering how best to set
the stone. I my some what limited experience even with a very thin
(like.2-.25mm) bezel in 18k i cannot seem to close the setting
without a hammer and punch, which is ok with a sapphire or a
chrysoberyl but i couldn’t bring myself anywhere near an opal with a
hammer without risk of heart attack. With argentium or fine silver i
use a bezel roller, but it seems like 18k is much more springy even
when fully annealed, a bezel roller just pushes it around more than
inward and down. How thin does an 18k bezel have to be to be pushed
down with a bezel roller and stay there’this one is thin, less than
.2mm, but i can tell that it would be very hard to push down with a
roller. I hope I can find a good way to set this stone, it’s such a
beauty. Thanks for any ideas you might have.

Douglas at Eclipse Designs


#2

Douglas- Tim and I have set opals with a hammer and a punch for
years. No problems so far. However we’ve both been doing this for 40
years or so. If you are unsure, I’d recommend that you give it to
some one who specializes in setting stones. It’s easy to find another
5mm sapphire. Not so easy to find another opal that is the same size
and color of the one you have.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#3

Hi Doug,

Here’s a tip I learned along the way, take a sharpie and look at the
bezel from the top. Now mark the top center with a mark on the edge
of the rim, go down and make a mark at the bottom then on each side.
If you have an oval template that you can use then you’ll get better
results. Now go and make marks in between the ones you made and you
should have equal spaces. Now use a silicon carbide disk to cut down
into the bezel a short way to make teeth that you can shape with a
file to make rounded corners. You’ll find that each tooth will bend
quite easily to shape to the stone without having to exert too much
pressure against the stone. One thing to watch is how far you go
down the side of the bezel so you keep the cuts the same depth.


#4
a bezel roller just pushes it around more than inward and down. How
thin does an 18k bezel have to be to be pushed down with a bezel
roller and stay there'this one is thin, less than .2mm, but i can
tell that it would be very hard to push down with a roller. I hope
I can find a good way to set this stone, it's such a beauty. Thanks
for any ideas you might have. 

Judging from your description, the best course of action is to start
over. Your setting is too large for the stone. It is not trivial to
set a stone when one cannot muscle through all the mistakes in
fabricating the bezel. The bezel must be of such dimensions that only
a small change in metal is required to set the stone. So start over
and remember that setting must fit like a glove. Only a little metal
should project over the stone. You should be able to set it with you
fingernail.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#5

The piece sounds nice…in setting opals I like 22K like K-rands,
they are perfect if you make your own bezel which it sounds like you
do .to set opals in a bezel I use a nail tech’s orange stick…they
are easy to find and very inexpensive and they can move softer metals
with some ease and you can’t hurt the opal…you might want to try
them out only 1 caveat work slowly the wood can’t mar the stone but
pushing to hard could crack it.

HTH
RP


#6

Hello Douglas,. 2mm is very thin for anything. Don’t thin it out. It
is most likely that your bez el is too high. Cut it down until it is
just a bit higher than the point where the opal starts to slope in.
It doesn’t take much. Don, t use a hammer. A pusher is more gentle
and less ja rring.

Have fun.
Tom Arnold


#7

I’ve used a plastic rod as a punch to set an opal like that before -
took some effort though. At least by using a plastic punch you
significantly reduce the risk of cracking the opal if the punch
slips. I did revert to the hammer on my Foredom on another setting
with an opal …sweaty experience…

Andrew Jeavons