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Bezel setting uneven stones

Hello,
I’m making a bracelet with two Royston turquoise stones, each different sizes. One stone is uneven along the sides and top and the other is uneven along the bottom, both different shapes also. One pear shaped, the other is an uneven round small stone. I can work with the stone that is uneven along the bottom, however the smaller stone is giving me the dilemma. It’s small but, a different height in some areas. Use a higher bezel wire? Then in some areas the top of the stone is lower. I have chipped one stone because of the turquoise being so soft and trying to adjust the bezel around the stone.

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Hi Lorraine, for the stone that is uneven along the bottom take some coarse sandpaper and rub the stone on it to even out the bottom. For stones with uneven sloping sides make the bezel as high as the highest side. Put the stone in the bezel and with a marker follow the level of the heights on the bezel. Then take out stone and with a file or flex shaft grinding wheel grind to the correct height around the bezel. Every so often put the stone to insure you will not grind off too much. Good luck, Vince LaRochelle

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Thank you. Makes sense, I will try that and hopefully be able to secure the bezel without chipping the turquoise.

Back the stone with some kind of conformable substance. Thermosetting plastic comes to mind or some kind of fast setting epoxy such as JB Weld. Whatever it is, you can then file or grind it down flat until the top of the stone is level or as level as you can get it when you insert it into a bezel cup. You are building a conformable wedge. Then set the stone in a traditional bezel removing metal from the low spots so that the rolled edge looks fairly even. You might also research how traditional cameos were set. Nothing was level or even in them. A wire bearing was created that followed the underside contour of the cameo and the top of the bezel was filed or ground to follow the topside contour of the cameo. Lots of fun…Rob

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Just a thought - I put a piece of dental floss under the stone when trial fitting to make getting the stone
out.

Thank you for that. I’m hesitant with filing down the bottom side of turquoise (although I do) because of the softness of the stone.

When dealing with an uneven stone, and assuming it’s yours, not a clients, using jbweld to even it up works. But when the top slopes at a different angle - it often occurs with ovals and odd shaped stones, I use a scribe, (those pointy metal things) to trace inside the bezel about 1.5 mm above the stone. Sand down to that line, and you will have just enough bezel to hold the gem. I hold the scribe about 45 degrees as I mark the bezel. I find that magic marker isn’t precise enough.
Judy H

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Native American turquoise will often be non symmetrical and have a a black leveling substance applied to the bottom. I suggest JB Weld because they make a product that may do just this. One that hardens, but can be filed or ground. I have never done this, but if I did, I would wrap several layers of masking tape around the stone creating a pocket on the underside. Then decide where tape needs to be removed so that when you set the stone on a level surface resting on the trimmed edge of the tape, the finished surface of the stone is the right height and level. Then fill the pocket with whatever you use to create the shim and let it set. You will likely have to make some adjustments to the bottom surface. I helps to be a lapidary or know one who can help you. Go ahead and set in the usual way. If the top of the stone is very irregular, you may have to also trim the top of the bezel so that it rolls evenly all the way around. I have worked on older Native American pieces where the leveling substance is simply saw dust. This may also work for you. Good luck and stay safe…Rob

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The best backing for an uneven, fragile and opaque stone is to do what traditional gold and silversmiths the world wide often do. Sprinkle in a layer of fine sawdust and wiggle the stone down til it’s level and the height that you want. I make my sawdust by using a #2 file on wood. The finer the sawdust the easier it is for the stone to sit down in and make a level seat and to adjust to the height that you want. It also acts as a cushion for fragile stones while setting.
Jo

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When using jbweld to even out the base of a stone and reinforce it too, I make a puddle of jbweld on a piece of waxed paper, then gently set the stone on top of the puddle. As the jbweld epoxy cures, in a couple of hours, you can use an X-acto blade to trim next to the stone. Let it cure overnight, then sand or grind the epoxy to the real edge of the stone because it will have some goobers from the cutting. Don’t forget to file a small angle relief on the bottom edge. You don’t want to make the stone tall, just to fill in the uneven base.
Judy H

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