The problem with setting the bezel at the same height all around is
that you are left with extra bezel material; producing ripples at
There is more than one way to skin a rabbit, but I think it's
important to first assess the shape of the stone in order to deduce
the best method to use.
Cabochons come in all shapes and sizes, and many profiles. If you
look at the side profile of your cab, if the sides dip down towards
the corners, then Ruthie's method is the one you need (see below),
and probably the only one which will give you the same height above
the stone in all positions around the stone. If you kept the bezel
the same height all around, when the corners of the stone are lower,
it would look very odd face on, even if you managed to avoid crimps
and folds. So:
If the height of the bezel on the corners is filed down in a
gradual "swoop" using a half round file from the inside out and
then back to full height on the sides, you eliminate that issue
We're not talking about cutting notches, just filing the profile of
the bezel to match the side profile of the stone.
However, if the side profile of your cab has beautifully even sides,
which are the same height all around the stone, ie not dipping
towards the corners, or if setting a facetted stone, where the
girdle sits nicely on the prepared seat and is nice and level all
round, with the same (tiny) amount (height) of metal to be folded
onto the stone, then the following method is what may work better.
It is what I have worked out for myself by trial and error. Other
methods may work better for you.
If I can explain using words rather than diagrams (not easy!).
Anyone interested may find it easier to draw the following on paper.
Imagine a square, with the centres of the four sides being labelled
1- 4, with 1 being opposite 2 and 3 being opposite 4. Then the
corners being 5 - 8, with 5 being opposite 6 and 7 opposite 8. We
then have eight more areas which need to be labelled, and those are
the areas right next to the corners, between the corners and the
centres of the sides, labelled 9 - 16. Each pair of numbers
straddles one corner, such that 9 and 10 are either side of your
corner labelled 5, 11 and 12 straddle corner labelled 6 (which is
opposite 5), 13 and 14 straddle corner labelled 7, and finally 15
and 16 straddle corner labelled 8 (which is opposite 7). Using baby
steps, use your bezel punch and hammer, and move the bezel inwards
in all places, sequentially from numbers 1 - 16, BUT the important
part is that when moving material in positions 9 - 16, instead of
just moving the metal inwards towards the stone, do inward/sideways
movement, from the corner towards the centre of the adjacent side.
This is what avoids folds and crimps, etc. Work either side of one
corner, then the opposite corner, etc, etc.Then, after partially
closing the bezel by working the areas 1 - 16, start again using the
same sequence. Repeat until the bezel is closed onto the stone
neatly. If your metal is thick enough, the above works like a dream.
Occasionally there may still be some "bulk" left at the corner, but
only on the exterior of the setting, which is very quickly filed,
sanded and polished away, leaving a very neat setting with no
ripples, folds, crimps, shorter bezels or cuts. NB, the above
sequence is also used for the "dipped towards the corners" type
situation, but is obviously done after the bezel profile is filed to
match the stone's profile.
In summary, you need to look at the profile of your stone, and make
the bezel to match that profile, but only a tiny bit taller than the
side of your cab (where the side changes profile from vertical to
the horizontal top or from steep angle to more shallow angle), or a
tiny bit taller than the girdle if facetted. Notches and slits are
not necessary and give a poor looking finish to a setting. I have
seen otherwise beautiful work done by very accomplished jewellers,
let down by messy looking bezels that have been notched or slit at
the corners - not a good look IN MY OPINION.
Sorry for such a wordy post!