Bezel thickness

Bezel rocker use

Don: I liked your bezel thickness tips. Could you expound on the
"proper use" of the bezel roller?

I have read verbal instructions for how to use it, but have not been
sure what was the proper angle for the “T” shaped head against the
bezel. …“T” parallel to base, or perpendicular?

I was taught to use a burnisher, and have not been happy with
it…for the same reasons you mention.

Lin Lahlum

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Lin, Happy to. As I mentioned, I normally will use a two step
operation in closing a bezel. The first is to form the lower portion
of the bezel wall to the curvature of the stone…whether it is a
sharp high or long low angle. The second is to seat the lip of the
bezel against the stone.

I normally hold my rocker or roller, as you prefer, parallel to the
base. In rare instances I might use it perpendicular to the base
while going around a particularly difficult corner.

To do this, one must create a fair amount of pressure on the metal
and yet have total control over the bezel roller so it does not
either slip up and over the stone, possibly damaging the surface, or
down along the outside bezel wall and possibley damage the bezel and
any lip or embellishment below the stone.

I grip the roller as one would an ice pick or a knife in a ‘downward
stabbing’ angle. Assuming one is right handed, hold the tool in
your right hand while securing the stone with your left. You might
also use some mechanical means to secure the stone or place it on a
piece of rubberized material to keep it from slipping, brace it
against your bench front if your pin is lower than the surface, etc,
etc. Approach the bezel at an angle that will, in your estimation,
bring the lower bezel wall in against the stone. Sometimes this will
be a very short distance, sometimes it will require significant
movement. Rock the head of the tool with your wrist as you work
around the stone…always beginning with the ends of the stone or
the corners if there are any. Rock it the length of the roller
head, move to the next segment and rock it again, pressing in with
the wrist movement as you move you elbow outward to attain a lever
like action. (Note: move your elbow out if you are moving forward
around the stone. If you are rocking backward, start with your elbow
out and move it in towards your body). By controlling the length of
the movement with your wrist and limiting it to the length of the
roller head, the chances of it slipping are dimished and, in any
event, it should not move more than a few mm.

After making a complete circuit, change position so the roller head
is pointing nearly perpendicular (this depends somewhat on the angle
of the stone’s shoulder). Now, holding the tool in the same fashion
and again, using your wrist, hold your elbow steady, place the EDGE
of the head closest to the stone onto the bezel’s top lip, direct the
pressure downward and again, roll it forward or backward so the lip
will seat against the stone. It will take some practice but you
should follow the shape of the stone/bezel while rolling forward or
backward without slipping off. If done correctly, the lip will
smoothly and firmly seat to the stone. I hope this is clear…??

I find it fairly easy to roll bezels as heavy as 16 ga in this
fashion. Going to 14 ga as suggested in one response might be a bit
difficult though and hammering might be in order. On the other hand,
by thinning the top portion of the bezel, there is no reason the
roller cannot be used as well.

Cheers, Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut1

I have read verbal instructions for how to use it, but have not
been sure what was the proper angle for the "T" shaped head against
the bezel. ...."T" parallel to base, or perpendicular? 

You may have to have the “T” shaped head against the bezel in both
positions. I generally start pushing the bezel in at a 45 degree
angle to the bezel, then I move up (to the top of the bezel) with
each roll. (does that make sense?)

A trick I learned from the goldsmith with whom I apprenticed, is to
relieve the thickness of the inner wall of a very thick bezel.

Looking down into the bezel with the stone in place, (placing a thin
string under it, in order to pull it out, if it’s a tight fit)
determine where you want the bezel to start bending towards the
stone. Scribe a line inside the bezel there, and go in with a hart
bur to cut a very shallow but uniform line the around the
circumference of the bezel at the desired level.

Re-emphasize, soften and gradually widen the line a bit, with an
appropriately sized ball bur, taking away just enough metal to give
the bezel a small band of area that will be very slightly thinner,
thus giving the metal a place to bend, making it easy to shove over
onto the stone with a rocker setter or reciprocating hammer, (or
whatever you use), still leaving the top nice and thick.

The end result will have no crease in the metal, if you do it right.
The bezel must be a fairly good fit for this to work, or at least,
not too big for the stone, otherwise you will see a line where it
bends at an extreme degree to meet the stone.

You want to make a smoothly rounded, uniformly shallow trough going
around the inside of the bezel in the place where you want it to
bend. The idea is to strategically relieve the thickness of the inner
wall, but not make it so thin or sharply cut as to be visibly
apparent from the outside.

For earrings or pendants it’s not really an issue, but this method
may minimally impact the life of a ring setting, but even so, the
majority of wear is at the top rather than the side of the bezel wall
so the top will probably wear out first, anyway.