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Bezels techniques


What do most of you use for making bezels? Something you order, ie,
pre-made? Somethng you cut from sheet? Something you roll thru the
mill? All of my work is fabricated. I have been using bezel wire I
ordered. I have ordered from both Hoover and Strong and Hauser and
Miller - fine silver and 18 and 22 k gold. I am not happy with the
results and I strongly suspect it’s not the bezel wire but my
technique. I have also cut strips from sheet and find I spend an
inordinate amount of time straightening the strip with my files,
sanding disk and sanding paper, etc. I have tried rolling wire thru
the mill but still have to sand or file off the rounded edge on one
side - again very time consuming. I rarely use a prong setting so
this is the way I ordinarily set my stones or enamels. I had been
using the bezel wire I could order because it was easy and relatively
thin and didn’t put too much pressure on the enamels. I use hard
solder both to create the bezel and to solder it to sheet. However,
by the time I have finished all the other soldering I often end up
with visible seams on the bezel where the solder has receded
slightly. I had learned to leave a ledge beyond the seam wherever
possible (to be removed with the saw later) to prevent this but it is
not often possible as the bezels are usually at the center or
scattered around the piece and not at an edge which can later be
removed. Do any of you have any suggestions? I normally do all or
most solder operations with hard - hard silver or hard 18k plumb (also
purchased from same suppliers) waiting until the findings to use
medium or rarely, if I have alot of soldering, move earlier to medium
and finally easy for findings. I usually use a white paste flux,
(tho sometimes its the yellow batterns) often but not always coat
with firecoat and occasionally use whiteout on earlier seams. What am
I doing wrong?? Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated.

Sheridan Reed

 However, by the time I have finished all the other solldering I
often end up with visible seams on the bezel where the solder has
receded slightly.

Sounds like you are putting your bezels in place and then doing
other soldering afterwards, otherwise there should be no reason for
the solder to recede with the bezel.

Also, where are you placing the solder for your bezel - inside or
outside the bezel. I place my solder pallions inside the bezel -
should I need to do some cleanup, it is easier to do it inside the
bezel where it will not be seen. Also learned to put extra solder at
the base of the bezel seam, inside, when soldering the bezel in
place to avoid bleeding the solder from that seam. I use hard solder
on all soldering jobs as well. I generally use fine silver bezel
wire, but frequently cut 22 ga strips when I want a particularly
heavy hammered bezel set. Doesn’t sound like you are doing anything
wrong particularly unless its that you put your bezels in place too
early? If you have to put them on early (for whatever reason) then
before you proceed with other soldering jobs, do you paint the bezel
seam with white-out or ochre? Maybe someone else has a better idea
for you. But it sounds like you’re doing it right to me.


 What do most of you use for making bezels?

Sherri, I learn(ed) this the hard way too, but here is a golden idea
so to speak: after you have constructed the outer and the inner bezel
and after you have been filing the bezel down so that it fits the
shank of your ring exactly (essential), flux the assembly and use
snippets (or whatever) of medium silver solder on the inside of the
bezel. Then solder on the inside and draw the solder to the outside
(which will be no problem to do). When the solder flows, move the
torch away and go on heating from the underside of top of the ring:
the solder will sweat through the joint, giving a perfect seam. Also,
this might be a matter of taste or of technique, but I really dislike
Batterns flux. I have been trying out a couple of fluxes and I’m
rather charmed with the Magic Flux (it is expensive, but it gives me
no problems). This said, playing with the steel wire still makes me
epileptic sometimes. I do not know if many others do this, but
sometimes I cast my bezels (I do not have a rolling mill). Best, Will


Sheridan that is a tall order,and it takes a bit time to get good at
bezel making ,some people have made it their specaility,experiance
will tell you what thickness to use with what material ,(stone)

the higher karats that you are useing,you should really start
working on fusion of the material itself and not solders, this way
you have no seams or much less seams showing ,I personally perfected
fusion of the silver materials with out collapse or melting ,for the
sake of no seam shows, but if you are using higher karat golds even
14K you should be fine with fusion.

as to the where and the how of Bezels, well I make my own, and
really isn’t hard to roll down wire and then roll it flat to the
desired thickness, which commercially is always too thin ,it works I
just don’t care for the way it looks, so I am always using 1mm thick
and above. although the harder 14K would be harder to set things in
,I would never set an (opal)in 14K it would be 18k and up or sterling
/fine. you can also get Drawplates to draw down perfect rectangular
wire. take a class,rent a video, if you don’t want to pay your dues
and work as an apprentice for a few years.

I draw down wire and then roll it flat,the key to keeping the wire
totally straight is how well is your rolling mill balanced ,the
pressure you are putting on each pass of roll down,and usually it
helps if you have an extra pair of hands ,to hold the wire and
pulling back when feeding it through ,while the other person is
rolling the mill,I do it by myself ,but I know it comes out
straighter with the help, but I compensate for that by tapping the
wire back into shape ,by tapping I mean teasing just barely.

bezels are really all about teasing the metal into form with a
gentle touch. My experience with some of the metal manufacturers has
been that they will make you any size thickness you want of bezel
wire. they just charge you more. as far as the soldering, so many
variables, do you usually solder the bezels straight onto the pieces
,platforms of metal, if you are you might want to start thinking
about creating the bezels with their bottoms on first and then
piercing out the platform (main plane) of metal and soldering the
bezels in from the back this way any discrepancy will happen in the
back where you may be able to hide or clean a bit eazier.if you are
dealing with smaller bezels same idea is to drill or pierce the
platform and again solder from the back of the piece. you might also
be using too little a solder which in turn is eating into the metal
when the heat is too high, experiment with the amount of solder you
are putting on ,at my work place I find most people starving the
work of proper solder amount, practice to see what is good for your
working habits .good luck.

Atelier Babikian
P.O.Box 54147
Philadelpia PA. 19105 USA


Hi Sherry, I usually measure and cut the bezel wire to fit the
stone. File and or sand the butt joint to match up correctly and
solder.After the quench/pickle/rinse I refit the bezel wire to the
stone on both sides.Top and bottom. After the fit has been corrected
I set it on the sheet silver , check to make sure that the bezel is
level on the sheet metal and then solder that in place. Quench
,pickle and rinse. Saw out the bezel leaving a small ridge of sheet
metal around the bezel wire. After it has been freed from the sheet
you want to file and then sand the sheet silver until it meets the
bezel wire and they become one. Sand thru the various grits. Whala
You have a bezel!!! finish and set your stone. hope this helps.

Since there a very few colleges around my area that have a
metal/jewelry programs, I go to local crafts/art centers. You can
find some wonderful instructors there. Most of them are professionals
in their fields and are working artists !! This may be a good place
to look for classes in bezel making. Hope this helps. Helen,
forward to spring!!!

 I have also cut strips from sheet and find I spend an inordinate
amount of time straightening the strip with my files, 

When I need to cut strips from sheet, I find that a paper cutter
(not the plastic one) from Office Max does a nice job of cutting a
straight line.