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Bezel setting with no back


#1

Hello - I’m a new person here and have a question I can’t seem to
word well enough to get the right results from searching the
archives.

Background: I’ve been making beaded jewelry as a hobbyist for about
3 years and am slowly learning more serious jewelry fabricating
techniques. I’ve set three cabochons in silver bezel settings (the
last one, a turquoise oval, was my first “on my own” outside of the
classroom environment). It came out pretty well (I think!) for only
my third setting.

http://www.nansaidh.us/storage/bezelcab3.jpg

Critiques on this piece (as well as can be seen from my photos
anyway) are heartily welcome - I know it doesn’t look "professional"
yet - and I definitely want to improve my technique.

My question is that I’d like to set a stone that isn’t flat-backed
like the cabs I’ve worked with before (all three of them - haha) and
want to have both sides of the stone open to be seen. Wrapping it in
a “bezel” of fine silver would be my preference, to have it
coordinate with the turquoise piece noted above. But I don’t know how
to do this as the stone is freeform, I have no flat surface on the
stone to work with, and would like not to have a sheet silver back.
(am I explaining this well?) Anyway, to have both sides of the stone
open to view, how do I wrap it with a fine silver bezel strip (and
get the bezel formed down over the stone on both sides evenly)??

Thank you very much in advance for any thoughts on my turquoise
setting and how I might accomplish setting the other stone.

Kind regards,
Nancy Revelle
Arroyo Grande, CA


#2

Hi Nancy

I have a couple of ways to handle this, Since I cut and polish a lot
of my own stones I run into problems like this fairly regularly.

The easy one is to make a regular bezel and then cut out most of the
back (drill a hole in the back, thread the saw blade through and saw
out the center of the bezel. That’s easy because it provides a
"shelf" to support the stone.

A trickier method is just to use thin bezel wire and burnish is down
very tight on the stone, overlapping the widest part so some of the
bezel is above the wide poin and some is below it.

The third method is to wire wrap the stone.

You probably want to use a dab of jeweler’s exposy (the transparent
stuff) to make sure the stone stays in the setting. Don’t use CA
(crazy glue) since it’s shock sensitive.

–RC


#3

Hi Nancy,

those bezels are very nicely done. there are a few gaps in them that
will take practice. to have an open backed bezel is really not as
difficult as it sounds. Create your bezel you standard way. Then
drill a hole in the back piece, mark the area you want cut out and
saw it out. file it nicely and then set your stone, voila open back
and open front.

jennifer friedman
http://www.jenniferfriedmanstudio.com


#4

Nancy,

Very nice looking job for #1 solo. I would like to see the metal
tighter to the stone but then I’m more used to tougher stones and
setting with chasing tools and a hammer. It does take >few broken
stones to learn the correct touch, and that number is >3. Setting
isn’t that hard but it does take an absolutely anal attention to
details and lots of practice.

Two options come to mind for your question…

For a bezel on front and back, make your bezel high enough for both
and burnish both sides alternating, 12:00, 6:00, 3:00, 9:00 positions
to fix the stone vs bezel placing. Flat pliers can be useful here to
do both sides at once. You should be able to finger hold for this,
for the rest shellac or jett set plastic might be safer, one side
complete then the other.

Single top bezel with straight bottom edge… make the bezel and
then make another which is a tight fit inside the first. File/shape
the inner one to fit the stone and solder it in. Look at commercial
bezel strips, this is a way to get the same effect with irregular
stones and not as many bearing cutting skills.

Jeff.
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#5

Hi Nancy,

Your bezel setting is much neater than my early attempts, that’s for
sure. My feeling is that your bezel is just a tad too tall and
that’s why you’ve got a bit of a gap around the stone. A little bit
shorter and it would have compressed enough so as not to have a gap.
Also a good thing I’ve found to do, is to sand the top of the bezel
perfectly flat before setting the stone and then on the advice of
some of Orchid’s stone setters, run a burnisher around the inside
edge of the bezel after setting the stone, to provide a nice polished
rim for the stone. I must remember to do that to the turquoise ring
I’ve got for sale on Etsy - I made it before learning that trick and
it looks really dull compared to some settings I did the other day.

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk


#6
You probably want to use a dab of jeweler's expoxy (the
transparent stuff) to make sure the stone stays in the setting.
Don't use CA (crazy glue) since it's shock sensitive. 

For those who haven’t tried it, I’d like to recommend E6000 when
cementing dissimilar materials. It is very gooey, which can cause it
to get a bit out of control, but it is very strong even in thin
applications (I have used it to seal titanium to silver, clamping
til it was set) but fills gaps great, and it remains flexible when
set. This means it can hold in spite of shocks or different rates of
expansion.

The down side to it is it only seems to come in a huge tube, and I
can never use more than a quarter of it before the rest hardens.

Noel


#7
You want to use a dab of jeweler's epoxy"Sorry,but Mrs. Picky
Pants says "A good setting needs no epoxy. 

With the exception of inlay and pearl pegs, epoxy is a big no no in
our studio.

Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#8

Many thanks to all who replied! I really appreciate it!! I hope to
get this last setting accomplished this week sometime - it’s chemo
week at our house this week so other things take precedence over the
torch.

Kind regards and thanks again,
Nancy Revelle
www.nansaidh.us


#9

Setting a stone in a bezel with a chasing tool and a hammer? You’re
a braver man than I am Jeff.

I’ve always gotten pretty good luck with plain bezel wire and a
burnisher – but then I’ve got very strong hands.

RC


#10

Rick,

I’ve made an assortment of about 15 ‘chasing’ tools over the years
just for setting. All about 50mm long and around 2 - 3mm diameter.
Different shape ends, some polished (risky), some rough, and a few in
brass. It does not require that much bravery just care and attention.
Accurate bearings required. You are not bending metal over the stone
but rather pinching the stone with the metal.

I also like thicker bezels, no way I could just burnish especially
in something like 14K nickel white :-). Technically I am moving a lot
more metal but in actual fact only the top inner edge of the bezel
really touches the stone and the forces involved are similar to plain
bezel wire (which I hate and haven’t purchased in decades)

Highly subjective observation but a thicker piece of metal wacked
with a hammer seems far less prone to bouncing back than a thin bit
of even fine silver gently burnished.

And I DO like wacking metal with hammers almost as much as torching
it. Jewellery should be graceful but making it often requires
carefully applied brute force, lots of fun.

Jeff


#11
With the exception of inlay and pearl pegs, epoxy is a big no no
in our studio. 

Ah the counsel of perfection. If you’re that confident of your work
every time, then more power to you.

But if the alternative is losing the stone…

RC


#12
I've always gotten pretty good luck with plain bezel wire and a
burnisher -- but then I've got very strong hands. 

That’s the way I set all my stones, except that I use a polished
flat- faced prong pusher instead of a chasing tool. My hands aren’t
strong enough to do the burnisher thing to close the bezel. As Jeff
said, you quickly learn the right touch so that you’re not breaking
stones - although it’s always the green ones that get me. I chipped a
bit off the point of an emerald I was setting the other day - what it
is with green stones?!

I am excited today though as I just took delivery of a set of bezel
closing punches and some tubing so I don’t have to spend all day
making lots of little tube settings like I normally do. No seam, no
struggling to get the sheet turned into perfectly round tubes that
still actually fit my 3mm stones - what joy!!!

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk


#13
With the exception of inlay and pearl pegs, epoxy is a big no no in
our studio. 

Ah the counsel of perfection. If you’re that confident of your work
every time, then more power to you.

But if the alternative is losing the stone…

Glue would give you a false sense of confidence at best. Glue does
not last anywhere near as long as correct use of setting techniques.
Glued pieces cannot withstand the normal abuse jewelry is subjected
to. Glue is what is used to repair what was not made co rrectly to
begin with. However, if you aspire to be a professional glueo
logist…more power to you!

Richard Hart


#14
Ah the counsel of perfection. If you're that confident of your
work every time, then more power to you. But if the alternative is
losing the stone... 

Surely if the alternative was losing the stone, then the stone was
not set in the first place. Like Jeff, I favour a thicker bezel and
can’t stand commercial bezel wire so make my own from sheet. The
bezel gets compressed so as to pinch the stone and when set, it’s not
going anywhere. Even though I know it’s not going anywhere, I often
give it a shove from the back just to make sure - so there’s no way
it’s going to spontaneously fall out.

Looking at the picture of the original poster’s first bezel setting,
although there was a small gap around the stone, the bezel was still
pushed onto the stone enough that the stone won’t fall out. Had the
said bezel been a tad shorter in height, it wouldn’t have needed to
travel as far to secure the stone, leaving no gap.

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk


#15

Assuming that your bezel has an inner bearing so the stone can’t
drop out of the bottom…If you have a thick bezel, bevel the inner
edge so that you can push it closer to the stone with much less
effort, and it will hug the stone tightly enough so that you don’t
need glue.

By the way, I think I learned that one from John Cogswell. Great
teacher!

Dee


#16
Ah the counsel of perfection. If you're that confident of your
work every time, then more power to you. 

There’s been three threads in a row now that counsel this strict,
by-the-book (as if there were a book) methodology. 1.NEVER, 2.NEVER,
3.NEVER.

All three topics are just tools in the arsenal, to be used when
needed and not used when not needed. Never say never is much more
intellegent. If any of us bore any resemblance to perfection -
whatever that is, I don’t know - we wouldn’t be here typing with
spell check at the ready. Knowing what to do and when to do it is
what makes a successful jeweler - leave the books on the shelf. Once
you leave the world of calibrated stones, ideal cut diamonds and
diamond cut color the world becomes a very different place.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#17
[...] I'd like to set a stone that isn't flat-backed like the cabs
I've worked with before (all three of them - haha) and want to
have both sides of the stone open to be seen. 

Do you want to set double-cabs, or even organic pebble shapes?

The comments so far seem good - and I also suggest you use thicker
fine sil for your bezel material and trim the height down - but
no-one’s yet mentioned a spectacle eyewire-style (or coin bezel). As
I make spectacles I guess I have to chime in here :wink: It is a more
precise setting, so possibly not to your taste here.

more to your style is the free-form edge-wrapping technique using
fine sil that others endorse and which I’ve had a little success
with.

For the spectacle eyewire-style setting, make the bezel wire from
strip stg sil and draw it through a half-round drawplate to make
channel of the appropriate dimensions to do the double-bezel job.
Wrap it around the stone and then decide whether to 1/ saw off excess
and solder on a closure device (like a little screw/nut thing that
spectacles and coin frames have) or 2/ curve the channel back and
around to make a little loop at the top. Solder the joint, pop in
the double-cab and wrap a bit of wire around under the top loop to
clinch the stone (this probably needs a drawing). I’ve seen some
victorian moonstones set like this with the channel looped at each
side, and connected together as a necklace.

The free-form edge-wrapping way is to use at least 0.5mm fine sil,
measure and solder to make a tight-ish bezel, then set it.
Unfortunately the bezel can grow in overall size during the
bezelling. You’ll also find that when you push the bezel over at one
plece you merely succeed in putting a twist in the bezel strip. The
pliers idea someone suggested is one way of pushing both sides of
the bezel over together, esp good if you have those ones with nylon
jaws. Or you could roll it between two swage blocks to shape the
bezel - does both push-overs at once. Make the swage blocks from
hardwood by drilling a hole then sawing the block in half, leaves you
with two pieces of wood each with a groove. Push over enough of the
silver to allow you to still get the stone out, solder on any
attachments, then complete the bezelling.

Brian


#18
[...] I'd like to set a stone that isn't flat-backed like the cabs
I've worked with before (all three of them - haha) and want to
have both sides of the stone open to be seen. 

Do you want to set double-cabs, or even organic pebble shapes?

The comments so far seem good - and I also suggest you use thicker
fine sil for your bezel material and trim the height down - but
no-one’s yet mentioned a spectacle eyewire-style (or coin bezel). As
I make spectacles I guess I have to chime in here :wink: It is a more
precise setting, so possibly not to your taste here.

more to your style is the free-form edge-wrapping technique using
fine sil that others endorse and which I’ve had a little success
with.

For the spectacle eyewire-style setting, make the bezel wire from
strip stg sil and draw it through a half-round drawplate to make
channel of the appropriate dimensions to do the double-bezel job.
Wrap it around the stone and then decide whether to 1/ saw off excess
and solder on a closure device (like a little screw/nut thing that
spectacles and coin frames have) or 2/ curve the channel back and
around to make a little loop at the top. Solder the joint, pop in
the double-cab and wrap a bit of wire around under the top loop to
clinch the stone (this probably needs a drawing). I’ve seen some
victorian moonstones set like this with the channel looped at each
side, and connected together as a necklace.

The free-form edge-wrapping way is to use at least 0.5mm fine sil,
measure and solder to make a tight-ish bezel, then set it.
Unfortunately the bezel can grow in overall size during the
bezelling. You’ll also find that when you push the bezel over at one
plece you merely succeed in putting a twist in the bezel strip. The
pliers idea someone suggested is one way of pushing both sides of
the bezel over together, esp good if you have those ones with nylon
jaws. Or you could roll it between two swage blocks to shape the
bezel - does both push-overs at once. Make the swage blocks from
hardwood by drilling a hole then sawing the block in half, leaves you
with two pieces of wood each with a groove. Push over enough of the
silver to allow you to still get the stone out, solder on any
attachments, then complete the bezelling.

Brian


#19
Highly subjective observation but a thicker piece of metal wacked
with a hammer seems far less prone to bouncing back than a thin
bit of even fine silver gently burnished. 

I agree. I prefer bezels to be at least .030" but I’ve done up
to.060" with good results. I imagine the reason for the spring back
is that with thin metal the two surfaces are quite naturally very
close together so there is very little soft metal in between to
squish out of the way, the two surfaces are more locked together, if
that makes sense.


#20

I am with Jeff on this. I also use a hammer and small "chasing"
tools for setting cabochons in bezels. Homemade from old file handles
with various heads, - square, spherical, round (polished and rough)
etc… they work well on thick homemade sterling bezels. And I fully
agree on his comments about whacking things with hammers. I do,
however often finish off with a burnisher to iron out any remaining
unevenness. Only failure to date was a (not very good) opal (yes I
know) very early on in the learning process.

cheers
John Bowling