Building up cabochons

I would like to hear what some of you use as backing to put behind
cabochons to make them sit proud in the bezel. I have been cutting
pieces of plastic to shape and putting as many as it takes to raise
the cabochon up where I want it. Any problem with that?

J. S. Ellington

If you’re making a good piece that you want to be proud of I’d
suggest you raise a cabochon by constructing a shelf inside the bezel
for it to sit on.

Tony Konrath

Might have difficulties with repairs later on, if you don’t want/have
to take out the cabochon. Of course no repairs might come up if it’s
done well from beginning (exeption by changes). Gold repairs should be
easier than silver. In such cases, if the bezel is closed from under,
I will put gold, silver or copper, de- pending from whole piece.

Kind regards, A.H.

Janie, plastic will work. It is not the choice of most setters, but
it is still a good solution…

Other things that I have used and/or have seen used are following

For closed back settings
Saw Dust
Silicone(black works wonders for opal)

For open back settings, a wire of the correct diameter works best
to rise the stone to the occasion.

There may be other solutions but these come to mind.


Janie I would create a seating for the cabochon to rest on with
square/round/ rectangular wire in the same metal as the bezel is made
from and solder it in place around the inner side of the bezel.
Using plastic will give problems to future repairers if the bezel
receives heat from a torch as in ring sizing.

Alan Lewis

JS, The only problems are possible deterioration or discoloration
over time, slippage of the plastic pieces through compression and
wear, and the effect of curses from unfortunate jeweler who might
have to make repairs to the piece in the future not knowing that
there’s a non-metal/non-stone material in there :slight_smile:

Seriously, I use square wire shaped into an “under-bezel” that fits
under the edge of the stone all the way around. Vary the gauge of
the wire to vary the height of the stone. It gives a firm seating,
is invisible, and you have a lot of control over the outcome with no
risk of slippage. It’s an easy technique – probably easier than
cutting and fitting all those plastic pieces.

Karen Goeller

I use sawdust…one of my husbands hobbies is woodworking (maybe
someday he’ll finish that bench he is rumored to be making for me!).
Sift the sawdust through a sieve to get just the right size pieces
(you want more like fine sugar grainules). Just put a bit in the
bezel and snuggle your stone down into it until it’s seated the way
you like. I’m sure there is some kind of commercial product out there
that you can use, but I just use the dust.

That reminds me of a ring that I had to reset the stone on. It was a
sterling setting with a bezel set faceted amethist. The stone looked
like it was a nice A grade…but out of the bezel it was very weak in
color. There was some stuff in the bottom of the bezel that looked
like a dark purple putty. I’ve never used anything like that…it is

Hello J.S. Ellington, Re your question:

    I would like to hear what some of you use as backing to put
behind cabochons to make them sit proud in the bezel. 

Discussion in the past on Orchid has included all kinds of materials
from fine sawdust (called stone leveling dust) to a coil of wire.
I’ve repaired several pieces where the stone had loosened because
the sawdust had deteriorated, so I don’t like that. My two
favorite methods aRe: For small cabs, I now save the silver
particles generated when sawing and pack that “silver dust” into the
bezel just as one would use the sawdust. It won’t deteriorate. (I
have also used moistened asbestos, but now want to avoid that
unnecessary exposure.) For larger cabs, I use a loosely coiled wire
of the proper gauge to raise the stone. If it proves too high, I
flatten the coil a bit. The tension of the coil keeps it in the
base of the bezel and the stone rests on the coil. Hope this helps,
Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936

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I think that the optimal solution is to use properly cut cabs. If
the back is flat, and the bezel of the cab is cut to the correct
angle and proportion, then the cab should be (relatively) easy to
set without backing material, and should look right when it is set.

Lee Einer

a quick and easy way is to line the inside of the bezel with a piece
of silver wire…i regularly use 16 gauge to up the stone and keep up
the content of the piece by staying with silver.

1 Like
 I think that the optimal solution is to use properly cut cabs.

All, I think Lee has a good point here. Unfortunately, there are
many cutters out there who do now know how to set a stone and
therefore are not aware that how they cut the stone’s shoulder angles
and finish the back can effect it’s setting. Especially in today’s
world of freeform cutting (my favorite I must say) and oodles of
tumbled stones it is easy to be drawn into trying to set a lopsided
or bellied stone. They can be set and look very good but such stones
often require special care. Lee is on the money because for every
one of these stones, there is also a dozen well cut and proportioned

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where the
weather is just beautiful these days and where simple elegance IS
fine jewelry! @coralnut1

Lee, You’re absolutely right, but there are times that a very pretty
piece is too thin to look nice in a setting, so you want a little
"height" to it. That’s when the underbezel technique can add the
"oomph" to the presentation.

Unless a stone is unusually thin, I don’t add an underbezel.

Karen Goeller

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All, Back in the days when I sat a bench for 12 -15 hours a days I
had a mentor that really disapproved of backing cabs. He said that
each jewelry piece should be designed to show off the stone. If the
stone needed to be raised to show in the jewelry - design the piece
to raise the stone. He would cut down each bezel to fit the stone
and design the piece to display the stone. Most of this work was
fabrication in sterling silver with some done in 14k. All the pieces
displayed the custom look, as no two were ever alike.

Gerry Galarneau

Bali made sterling jewelry that have really deep bezels, they use
thin sheet silver and cut a strip that rests against the inside of
the bezel to hold the stone high in the bezel so just the bottom 16th
of an inch or so is below the top edge of the bezel. This seems to
be an easy and effective way to set. I don’t see what the downside or
ethical problem could be. Richard in Denver

Some people want to set stones in high bezels. They want a
certain look achieved by setting the stone high off the backing
plate, using a wide bezel. It is not about poor cut or well cut
stones, it about a certain look. Sometimes I get a thin cab, and I
want to raise it up in the bezel, cause otherwise I would have to
make a really short bezel, and it don’t look good, to me.

Richard Hart Jewelers Gallery - Custom Designs - Gold - Silver
-Diamonds - Colored Gems 1505 S. Pearl St. Denver, Co 80210 Voice:
303-777-4333 Fax: 303-777-2613 E-Mail:

I used to raise a stone using old 78rpm records, using one or two pieces. However, I learned this, although easy and inexpensive, was a terrible idea if the silver piece had to be subsequently heated to repair or enlarge a ring as the record melted and caught on fire. Since that experience I have used a circle of silver wire in the bezel.