While still on the topic of Cab setting, here you will find my
half-round, cut-off round bur. It can be used in preparing a seat
for Cab stones. Also you will find essays I prepared just on this
How is this bur created? Get any size of bur you need & let your
bench-grinder shave off the top half of the bur. Put the bur in your
hand-piece & voila!...ready for action!
Full Bezel Setting, for Cabochon stones
One of the most basic designs in stone setting is "Bezel Setting".
It is so rudimentary in its concept. It is very pleasing to the eye
also in its simplicity. This concept blends with the smooth vertical
shape of the stone. There are no sharp corners, gradual flowing
lines to conform to the stone. So now lets delve into this style of
In my "AJM" article in April/04, I showed how a round bur that is
re-shaped to have the same contours of the "Cab" stone. This
particular half-round, round bur along with a proper execution, will
enable you to perform and overcome any difficult bezel setting
Just what kind of tools do 'we' need? A very secure ring clamp,
steel ring-mandrel, a 3-ounce hammer with a 10-inch length handle, a
steel hand held punch of 3 inches in total length. Copper or Brass
hand pusher! Why am I detailing such minute measurements? The hammer
handle should be light enough as not to cause rapid onset of "hand
and arm" strain while during the "hammering" process. The "not to
exceed 3 inches length" of the punch, that is while you are hitting,
you won't have to time after time, judge where the hammer is
hitting, or missing :)!
Did we not mention files? Pillar file of #2 and #4 cuts. Flat edged
Pumice wheels of #180 grit and Flat graver of #39 or a #40
We will work now with the simplest version of a Cabochon setting.
This will entail using a stone of 5x7 mms or a 9x7 mm's. Why would I
be using these two sizes? Just one basic answer, this is so we can
see what we are working with, simple?
Tightly secure the ring in to your ring-clamp. I use a hammer to hit
the clamp-peg tighter into the clamp. This will ensure a tight
fitting, non-moving ring as we start this setting process! With your
Pillar file of #2 cut, ascertain that the bezel walls are flat and
not too high on one side than the other. Overall and equal bezel
height is very important at this juncture.
Briefly examine the internal areas of the bezel base for any little
extra bits of gold that might be a miscast or defect. Remove them
with a small round bur of #006. Place your ready to be set Cabochon
stone on the top of the bezel wall. Is it over shadowing the metal
in width and length? If so, this is the next stage in preparation. I
will use a rounded surface of a metal punch and ream open the bezel
walls as to allow the stone to gently fall into place. With your
finger on the stone, turn over the ring with a loupe and view if the
stone is fitting against the base of the bezel. There should be no
space between the stone and the bezel base. This is very
If there is, you might have a stone that is crooked or held up by a
little bur of gold. If there is a little bur of gold when hammering,
there will be lots of stress on this stone and then you might then
have a chipped stone.
Now using my half-round round shaped bur with the same overall equal
dimensions or nearly the same contour as the "Cab" stone starting at
the base of the bezel wall. I would initially scrape the surface at
equal increments. At each 1/4" turn dig into the gold a tad deeper.
I will at my disposal, have many sizes of these modified burs. I
will gauge each bur as the correct angle of the stone. This bur
should not be used at a high rate of motor speed. Please note at all
times how you are progressing. You should at all times, be using
your 10x power loupe. Please avoid any gold dust hitting your eyes!
Place the "Cab" stone into this bezel recess.
Here are some questions for you, now!
1) Is the stone secure in the bezel?
2) Are the walls of equal height?
3) Are the walls of equal thickness?
4) Is the stone properly aligned to the overall shape of bezel
If these 4 basic questions are answered favourably, you can now and
only now proceed to the next stage of setting.
I would like to underscore the reason of using a Copper or Brass
metal pusher, why? If you are going to full bezel an Opal or soft
Stone, you shouldn't be having any movement of that stone. I would
have you to use these two selected pushers to carefully just 'press
over the tip' of the bezel. This way you will 'secure" the metal to
the surface. In case of slipping on the gold, you will definitely
scratch the surface of 'that' stone by using a steel pusher. Copper
or Brass is a lot softer and do not mark the stone.
If you are not sure of using a softer metal pusher, I have two other
approved methods; an elastic band around the ring mandrel and the
I also would let you to use a touch of "fast acting" glue. This
"glue method" will be used only as a 'stop-gap' measure and not to be
intended as the best way of Cabochon setting. These three methods
are only used to prevent any other movement of the stone, while
starting the "hammer" setting.
With your 3 inch metal punch held firmly in your hand now using your
hand held hammer, hit this punch with great care. Do not hit hard,
but only tap! Hold your punch at a 45-degree angle AWAY from the
stone. When you see the metal start to press against the stone,
STOP! Turn the ring around and start the hammering of the other side
of the bezel. You are now starting to have the walls grip the
vertical sides of the stone.
Once this is now done and the stone feeling tight, remove the
elastic band and with total confidence so far, initiate the setting
of the ends of the oval bezel setting.
Again, as this is completed, carefully making sure all of the walls
are nicely holding the surface and no spaces between the metal and
the stone. You can now just tap to "even-off" the walls to make a
smooth, even surface on the hammered section of the bezel wall.
I will only now use my "Flat" Graver to give a Bright-Cut to the
very inside of the bezel wall. This gives the ring a clean and
professional appearance of this kind of setting. who wants a
mediocre setting job? You should make sure that your graver is sharp
and bright. This will leave a smooth inner surface cut, attesting to
your higher setting abilities....:)
As this cutting is now completed, we will use a Pillar file #4 and
smooth file the areas where your hammer touched. In a smooth flow of
filing, rotate or file in a semi-circular fashion on the bezel wall
tips only. Keeping in mind that you should be having two surfaces to
be considered. The vertical wall and the 45 degree angle and the
I will impress upon you the reader and setter, to acquaint yourself
with the Pumice wheel of #180 grit, Flat faced wheel. Holding the
ring in your hand, allow the slow rotating wheel to only remove the
marks left by your Pillar file. Do not let this Pumice wheel touch
your soft stone, as an abrasive wheel, it will mar the surface you
are so diligently trying to keep fresh!
If you are happy with your results, I'll send you all of my setting
work! Remember, that after 1,000's of rings and bezels, you will soon
get to be very proficient, trust me! :) Gerry Lewy... "Gerry, the
there is more than one "to skin a cat" as they say. I was taught to
set cabs like this by a master gold smith and master gem setter.
Fabricated metal is superior to cast metal as for strength. Castings
have their place for some designs and for mass production. For
setting a solitaire cab casting is unnecessary.
In 18 kt gold make a bezel that fits the stone tightly. Use.8 mm
thick gold for this. Make another tube that fits inside the bezel
tightly. This is tube setting. Push the inner tube down so that the
stone has enough metal to fold over it. Solder inner tube to bezel
and then solder into ring shank.
File the top of the bezel so it is flat. Gerry is so right about
using a big file. File the the bottom of the bezel so it is the same
curve as the ring shank. Polish whole ring. Make sure to bring the
inside of the bezel to a high polish.
Now if the cab has a flat bottom you are ready to set. If it has a
curved bottom then use a hart bur to cut the seat, it must fit
perfectly to the stone.
Put ring into ring holder. If the bezel has been made correctly then
no glue is needed. Place stone into bezel check level etc. Use bezel
pusher at 12, 6, 9 and 3 to begin to move metal down. This will hold
the stone securely. Then push down between the 12,6,9 and 3.
Put ring up a ring mandrel, place into mandrel holder or put mandrel
into hole in bench etc. The mandrel will support the ring and allow
hammering to get the gold down with the least amount of work. Now
hammer set the rest of the bezel down.
Hammer down the side away from the mandrel handle then turn ring
around and continue. There must be NO gap between the bezel and the
The edge of the bezel is now at a slight angle to the stone. Now to
finish the bezel. Use barrette files 1 to 4 that have been polished
to a high shine on the sides. Put ring in ring holder. A benchmate is
the ultimate for this. File around the bezel, note this is for gem
stones which are harder than the files, till it is flat. This gives
a.8 mm bezel wall that is flush to the stone and is flat. Clean up
and polish any marks on the bezel sides. Polish the edge of the bezel
next to the stone with a felt wheel and tripoli and then hyfin or
rouge. It should be a mirror finish.
If the shank is say 4 mm by 2 mm then the ring is indestructible.
Also if the wearer puts on weight as we do with age then the band can
be hammered up to increase size. Band will still be at least 1.5 mm
This is a basic ring design variations are limited only by the
imagination. Shanks can be tapered, textured shoulders can be added
However a quality cab gem set in a solitaire bezel setting is one of
the most popular designs. I don't know about Gerry saying it takes a
few thousand to get it right to my satisfaction. It only took me 500,
guess I am a fast learner. Not kidding about the 500 rings. Still
sold them all.
However with a faceted stone the process becomes infinitely more
complex. Especially with oval stones. Let alone square.
Stone setting is one of my great joys at the bench. I can spend
hours to get to the last setting stage and past failures have taught
me that near enough is never good enough in preparing the setting.
In sterling silver, soon to be Argentium I use a.8 mm square wire to
make the seat. Saves time and makes little structural difference.
The 2 tubes are worth the extra effort in 18 kt with precious gems. I
have a basic PDF on this for any who are interested, seems there is
little info out there on this, don't know why it is basic precious
So email if you want a copy. Sent it out to many already. Also I
know have an in focus photo of my arthritis big knuckle ring design.
Hey these are just designs I have learned long the way. If anyone
wants a photo of the above setting I will try to take one of a
garnet cab set in 18 kt. I was going to sell it but as so often
happens it ended up on my wife's finger, go figure. Great show piece
however as my wife and I work together, gets a few orders. Bezel set
cabs are few and far between these days in chain stores and so if you
put some of these in your range you will have something different and
all the best and have patience you will get there in the end.
Gerry, Your generosity of knowledge, and that of the other master
craftsmen/women here is what keeps Orchid alive. Thank you for
Get well soon, but keep writing mean time
While reading this email from Richard Hopkins his ideas are so 98%
Here is my 2% extra on this project.
If you start the pushing or hammering at the 12 & 6:00 o'clock
sections, this where you might run into a little problem. The stone
might just shift 'away' from the 12-6:00 positions. If it does, you
are royally messed up!! I tell my students to start the hitting or
pushing at the 9:00-3:00 positions. Then slowly move up to the 10:00
& 4:00 later do the 2:00 & 8:00. The purpose is to 'lock the stone
into place'!!! No way in h*ll will that stone shift due to any form
of vibrations, or sliding to the 'point of least resistance'.
Remember you are in complete control of that stone. not it! Don't
forget to "Bright-Cut" the inner bezel frame. It looks 1,000% better
once done. We are dealing with perfection in all aspects of our
stone setting. and the bezel looks so-o nice afterwards, agree? BTW, I
use a #180 grit pumice wheel on every section of filing & using Flat
& Tapered wheels.
OK - I'm definitely a newbie but I am going to bite on this one. It
seems to me that for most stones, a 12 and 6 position is pretty much
the same as a 3 and 9 position, depending on the way we orient the
stone on the bench.
So why 3 and 9 over the 12 and 6? It doesn't take much to confuse
Barbara on a day when we finally have spring on the island and no
snow in the forecast (yet).
Gerry emailed me this offline. Jogged my memory for oval cabs I do 3
and 9 then 12 and 6.
My bezels are very tight so little chance of movement. I make them
so the stone will not fit and tap bezel up a fraction to get a perfect
With the filing technique there is no inner bezel wall to bright
cut. It is a different technique.
I will polish up an 18 kt ring with a garnet cab I did like this and
post a photo. Hope I can get it off the wife LOL.
Bright cutting the inner bezel wall in an non-filed ring could look
great depending on the stone's colour.
This is what I like about Orchid some info is posted, gets refined
So Gerry can you post a photo too then we can see the difference in
design and technique.
all the best
This 'clock' formation of securing the stone is used primarily on
OVAL stones. nuttin' else! it's a marvelous c-o-ol day of low-50'sF.
(summer is now cancelled till next year)..:>).
I have found that the little air turbo drills make cutting seats for
any nonround stone easy and quick.. 400,000 rpm's and no torque.
uses old dental bits my dentist throws away. Hate to admit it but I
even use it on cutting my seats for cabs. touch up with the engraver
if needed. Cuts my time in half.
Great for carving stones also. And can not be beat for prong set
earrings. hold the post in your hand and cut away. Be careful they
can cut very fast.
Hi Barbara and others
the side of an oval stone gives more width to push on than the ends,
Depends on the size of the stone with a 9 x 7 mm it can make a
With a big stone wont make much difference.
all the best Richard
Thanks Gerry for the clarification about oval stone. And you are not
the only person who is missing summer - still have piles of snow at
the edges of the lawn here. Tenzing, Hunt and Hillary (better known
as the three canines) are still climbing to the peak.