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Fine silver for bezel?


I just found out about your website, and am excited. I already have
a question for you. For 10 yrs. as a self taught silversmith, I
have used standard 26 ga sterling bezel wire for setting cabs. My
question is---- When and why would one use fine silver instead of
sterling for making a bezel? I would appreciate any input you can give
me on this. Thank you. D’Ann Troell


Hello D’Ann Fine silver is much easier to roll over onto the stone.
It also is easier to stretch if you make a bezel a little small.
Removing stones also is easier, although it has been known to rip
vertically. Another jewel years ago told me he used it to stay within
the percent range of sterling. He said adding solder to the piece
would drop the percent silver. By using fine silver bezel, he knew
he was above the right percentage for sterling silver. This is
controversial and I would like to hear from others on this part.
Steve Ramsdell


Dear D’Ann and Charlie, Fine silver has no copper content, hence no
firescale, hence no pickling worries or abrasive finishing. It is
also softer, a nice quality where one seeks to push metal tight to a
stone for the most secure mounting.

In defense of 26 ga. sterling bezel wire, that’s a good heavy-duty
mounting, too. A testament to your craftsmanship.

Dan Woodard, Indian Jewelers Supply Co. In snow-flurried cold Gallup,
New Mexico


Fine silver is easier to tighten around a setting because it’s softer
than sterling. Another reason is to bring up the total silver content
of a piece to bring it into compliance with FTC regs, particularly if
there’s a lot of solder operations on it. Every time you use solder,
you lower the overall content of the silver. As you use the lower
melting temperature solders, they have less silver content. If your
piece is stamped “sterling”, it must assay out within .01 of 925/1000
parts silver, including the solders. That’s a pretty fine
line, especially if you have lots of bezels. K.P. in WY


In my opinion, fine silve bezel should be used most of the time. It
folds down much easier than sterling bezel. It is also easier to
remove a stone from a fine silver bezel when doing a repair.

Timothy A. Hansen


I always use fine (999) silver for the (rub-over type) bezel on a
sterling ring and I make the bezel from 0.5mm or 0.6mm sheet. Ruth my
wife uses 0.4mm 999sil for her bezels.

B r i a n � A d a m
E y e g l a s s e s
a n d O t h e r J e w e l l e r y


I am also largely self -taught but have used fine silver 28-30g. for
my bezels for pendants and earrings. The fine silver wraps
beautifully around the stones while sterling takes a lot more
manipulating. On the converse, however, for bracelets and rings, I
want a heavier bezel and then use sterling - anything from 18 to 26 g.
The heavier bezels I use when I want a specific look. Then I usually
texture the top of the bezel. Hope that helps. Shael


Hi, D’ann The reason many use fine silver instead of sterling for
bezels is that fine silver is softer, and consequently much easier
to conform to the stone when setting. Lee Einer


Hi D’Ann, Welcome to Orchid! Think you’ll enjoy it, maybe eve pick up
some ideas.

There are a couple of main reasons for using fine silver for bezels
(for cabs).

  1. Fine silver melts at a higher temp than sterling, so any soldering
    done to the pice after the bezel has been installed is less apt to
    melt the bezel.

  2. Fine silver is softer than sterling, as a result it will follow
    the contours of the stone easier.

All of that said, you have eveidently mastered bezel making using
sterling. Fine silver may not be a biggy for you, but it may help out
in a tough situation.


    "He said adding solder to the piece would drop the percent
silver.  By using fine silver bezel, he knew he was above the right
percentage for sterling silver.  

A plain ring weighs between 3 and 6 grams. The amount of solder
needed to make a good joint is between 0.03 and 0.1 grams. I always
thought that it is very desirable to keep the amount of solder used to
a bare minimum, and so of course, you would have to be pretty lavish
with it to reduce the quality of the metal for it to make any real
difference. –

John Burgess, Mapua NZ; where the hills now resound with the
sound of fruit trucks and the stench of their diesel’s polluting
the air


Dear Steve, Your reference to using pure silver bezel as a means of
hedging against the possibility of reducing the overall purity of a
sterling piece makes me chuckle. Suppose, for example, that you make
a ten gram sterling silver ring and then solder a bezel to it with a
solder that is .600 silver. In the first place, the weight of the
silver solder is going to be so miniscule that I doubt that the net
effect would be measurable on an electronic scale. In the second
place, silver is so cheap that the net reduction in value probably
couldn’t be measured except in mils. Hakuna matata !

Ain’t no problem mon ! At a more graphic level suppose for example
some imaginary governmental agency were to crack down on silver
purity in jewelry due to solder reducing the purity…you know the
answer…practically every piece of hand fabricated silver jewelry
ever made would be suspect. Precious metal purity laws are intended
to prevent large scale cheating by big operators and are rarely
enforced except when it can be demonstrated that a large amount of
money is involved and/or where there is a blatant attempt to
defraud. Happy crafting! Ron at Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, CA.