Nancy, You sound like you’re off to a pretty good start bezel
setting! I like to use 30ga fine silver bezel wire for silver
and 30 ga 14 or 18k gold flat bezel wire for gold, unless I’m
setting opals, then I use 22k.
If the stone is pretty strong, I will chose a bezel height only
slightly higher than the stone. If the stone is soft, I will
sometimes use corn cob dust under the stone, or back it with 2mm
of rubber and double sided carpet tape to cushion the blows when
I set it. ( I swear by my hammer handpiece if a bezel roller
doesn’t get it all the way down.
I first anneal the gold wire ( silver is already soft enough). I
wrap the wire around the stone tightly and hold it in place while
I scribe the line where I will cut it and sand it flush using a
sanding disc on my flex shaft. I check the fit before I solder.
Solder using hard solder. The fit needs to be perfect; you
should be able to drop the stone through the bezel, but not be
able to see light through it when you hold it up to the light.
This takes alot of practice. If you get the bezel too tight you
can try to stretch it on a mandrel with a hammer, or you will
have to grind the stone smaller with lapidary equipment. So it’s
better to get it a little too big than too small.
If you are using a stone that is not uniform in thickness,
scribe a line around the top of the stone onto the inside of the
bezel and grind 1mm above the line with a sanding disc and polish
with a pumice wheel to remove burrs. Solder the bezel to the base
using medium or soft solder on the inside of the bezel, taking
care not to use too much and create a solder mess. Heat evenly
from underneath until the solder flows.
Put the stone in the bezel with or without backing, depending on
the stone. I use a bezel roller to get the bezel down as far as
I can. If that is not enough I use my hammer handpiece to get
the bezel down with no gaps. If you are unfamiliar with this
tool, practice on hard stones like agate or onyx before you try
something like turquoise or opals.