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Good resource for setting stones?


#1

Hi, A friend asked that I put a rectangular citrine (awfully small
for a newbie like me) back into its bezel (it popped out of its
sterling bezel). She also gave me the other earring for comparison.
Not as easy as I thought it would be, the one that I’m working on
seems to sit way, way down. And unless she’s keen on a setting with
interesting puckered edges, I need to read up on how to do this.
Could people point me in the right direction please? Either websites,
blogs, responses, books, anything please.

thanks
Ros


#2
And unless she's keen on a setting with interesting puckered edges,
I need to read up on how to do this. Could people point me in the
right direction please? Either websites, blogs, responses, books,
anything please. 

I can talk you through the required steps, but I need to see the
stone and the setting. Also, what is the stone size, bezel
thickness, and bezel height. You should be able to handle gravers. In
some cases, special pusher has to be made. Contrary to widespread
notion, bezels are not easy.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#3

Sounds like it lost its bearing. Loupe the other one and make one to
match.


#4
Contrary to widespread notion, bezels are not easy. 

Basic bezels soldered onto back plates for setting cabochons ARE
easy (as long as you don’t make the bezel too tall), and that’s is
what (I think) tends to be taught in classes. Perfecting open-backed
bezels, with a bearer for a faceted stone to sit in, is not so easy
(with the exception of round stones) - you are correct - especially
for fancy shaped stones like the one in question. But they’re not too
difficult either, if the setting is already made and still useable.
The forces of turning the bezel onto the stone just need to be
applied in the correct directions to avoid puckering, ie to avoid
excess metal at the corners, push the metal away from the corners,
towards the centres of the sides. It is possible to get really neat,
perfectly crisp corners, even on very pointed stones, if done
correctly, and without the need for ugly slits. I use a setting punch
and chasing hammer to close my bezels, and then files and sandpaper
afterwards if necessary.

However, if the setting needs to be remade, that is another matter,
but pictures of the stone, setting and other earring would be
helpful.

Helen
UK


#5
Basic bezels soldered onto back plates for setting cabochons ARE
easy (as long as you don't make the bezel too tall), and that's is
what (I think) tends to be taught in classes. 

We had this discussion before. My point of view is that if I do
something, I want to do it perfect, or as close as I can come to it.
If we adapt this framework of thinking, than perfect prongs is a
reasonable goal, while perfect bezel probably does not exist. That is
how I look at things.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#6

All, for some additional on proper way to use bezel
rollers and other bezel suggest you take a look at the
current edition of Art Jewelery magazine which has my article on the
subject. If there are any questions don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

Cheers, Don in SOFL.


#7

Don,

I loved the article - am eager to try your instructions as I don’t
think I was ever taught correclty (use a burnisher and just push the
metal over - gets my hands hurting especially with thicker bezels
and never sets correctly) and using a bezel pusher - which just puts
humongous dents in my bezel which I then needed to sand the heck out
of.

Also, I am eager to find some brass to make my own pusher - like
yours!

Thanks for a great article - did not know it was you - you always
have so many good suggestions. (you helped me with a question on
reticulated metal a few months ago)

Ruta
Designs by Ruta
www.etsy.com/shop/rmurphdesigns


#8

I really don’t get the whole bezel roller thing. I bought one at the
start of making jewellery, because that’s what everyone else seems
to use for turning bezels, but I found them extremely difficult to
use, causing me a great deal of pain to my hands and wrists.

The only way I can see bezel rollers working, is if people are using
extremely thin gauge sterling silver for their bezels, or fine
silver. In the case of sterling, if it’s that thin, it just looks
cheap and nasty, and you often see gaps next to the stones, because
it doesn’t have the “squish” factor of thicker metal, which you can
compress far more. You can end up with puckering at corners too. With
fine silver, the metal is SO soft, that the bezel can get damaged
extremely easily, or simply scratched too quickly.

So I go for sterling silver, of at least 0.5mm thickness (not sure
what gauge that is). I sometimes make my bezels out of 1.0mm thick
sterling, for larger stones. I always make my own bezels. The
commercially available bezel stock seems to only be available in
0.3mm thickness or thinner, which is far too thin for my liking. Both
the thicknesses I use are impossible to turn with a bezel roller - at
least for me. So I use a bezel pusher, which in my case, is a wooden
handle with a square section steel rod sticking out of it. I have
filed a very slight dome on the end face of it, so that it doesn’t
dig in and cause dents, when I’m turning a bezel. I use it with a
chasing hammer.

Obviously, for this method, you need both hands free, so you need to
mount the piece of jewellery in something sturdy. In my case, I use
an ordinary bench vice and I set the jewellery into GRS’s
Thermo-loc. Any other thermoplastic will do the same job. Heat it up
in a jug of water in the microwave (that way the plastic doesn’t
burn), and allow to cool when the piece is set into it. I make a sort
of “T” shape with the plastic, so that the jewellery sits in the
horizontal piece of the “T”, and the vertical part goes in the vice
jaws. Push the piece of jewellery into the top of the plastic,
bringing it up the sides enough to secure it. Make sure if setting
open backed settings, that you push any thermoplastic down out of the
settings, so that it’s not in the way of the stones’ pavilions. Set
your stones, then put back in the jug of water in the microwave, to
soften the plastic so you can remove the piece. Being under water
means that your piece of metal jewellery will NOT cause a problem
with the microwave. Take care when handling the hot thermoplastic -
and with the hot water!

I always make sure my bezels fit the stones snugly, and that they
are only just tall enough to secure the stone when set, so that there
will be no gaps after stone setting. The thickness of the metal I
use, means that even when setting stones with sharp corners, there is
enough thickness so that the compression takes up the slack, and
there is no puckering of corners. I make sure the forces I’m
applying, go away from the corners, towards the centres of the sides,
and as such, no ugly slits or wedges need ever be cut at the bezel
corners. Occasionally, there will be a little extra bulk at the
corners, which just needs to be filed and sanded flush with the rest
of the bezel profile afterwards. This is quickly and easily done,
prior to its final polish.

Obviously I’m not saying that my way is the only way stone setting
should be done - there are other ways. But it is the only way that
I’ve found to make sturdy, neat bezels using sterling silver, of
adequate thickness, that will stand up to daily wear for many years.
It is my opinion, based on the “butter” softness of sterling silver,
and its propensity to scratch, dent and go out of shape easily. I’ve
also tried fine silver once, and will never use it again because it
is far, far too soft. It went out of shape with me just shaking some
water off it - and I’m not talking about a huge piece, just a
hemisphere of about three quarters of an inch in diameter, and about
0.5mm thickness!!! I like to make rings, set with stones - rings
that will last for many years, and so I use sterling silver
(sometimes Argentium) of a thickness that will make a decent piece of
jewellery. It’s also not a quick fix. It’s probably taken me the best
part of three years to be completely happy with my bezel setting (I
set mostly faceted stones in bezels. Cabochons are easier to set, but
still have some basic rules to ensure a really neat fit).

If any new folks are having difficulties getting neatly set stones,
using either sterling which is too thin, or fine silver, and want
more details about the above method, I’ll happily provide
comprehensive for them to try - just email me offline, or
I could possibly do a blog. My methods are a combination of lots of
advice which I received from other Orchid members, when I was new to
making jewellery, so I’d just be returning the favour.

Helen
UK


#9
I really don't get the whole bezel roller thing. I bought one at
the start of making jewellery, because that's what everyone else
seems to use for turning bezels 

I agree. It is one of the ideas which appear to make sense, but
actually doesn’t. For a bezel roller to work, one must compress metal
on the whole stone perimeter at the same time, which is extremely
difficult to do. If stone is small and metal is maleable, it may work
by forcing metal upwards and reducing diameter that way, but I do not
like the whole idea.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#10

Helen,

You must have watched me bezel setting, now I know the source of
those shadows :slight_smile: Your description is almost exactly how I do it.
Only difference is that I usually file a 30 degree angle on the top
of the bezel after all fitting to reduce the amount of metal which
has to be moved. Thick bezels do not have to look bulky, there is
only.1mm of metal over the stone but it will withstand being run over
by a truck (lorry on your side) The technique works even in nickle
white with delicate stones.

I don’t know what a ‘bezel roller’ even looks like. A hammer and a
collection of punches are my choice, a graver to clean up rough
edges where the metal meets the stone.

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#11
You must have watched me bezel setting, now I know the source of
those shadows :-) Your description is almost exactly how I do it.
Only difference is that I usually file a 30 degree angle on the
top of the bezel after all fitting to reduce the amount of metal
which has to be moved. Thick bezels do not have to look bulky,
there is only.1mm of metal over the stone but it will withstand
being run over by a truck (lorry on your side) The technique works
even in nickle white with delicate stones. 

Cool! Great minds think alike and all that - or is it fools seldom
differ?! As I say, it’s a combination of lots of advice from other
people, all of which I’m very grateful for.

I find that generally, if I’ve got my bezel height right, and that
of the bearer for the stone, then filing metal off is not necessary,
as the compression makes it look less bulky than it actually is. If
I’ve got it a smidge too tall, then there’s too much to fold over,
and it will look too bulky, so filing some off would work a treat for
that situation, and also for really small stones, where my bezel
thickness might look too bulky as well - thanks Jeff.

I was asked offline why I don’t use a ring clamp, but as I
explained, for the type of stone setting we’re talking about here,
you actually need both hands free, and a ring clamp is a hand held
tool so you’d only have one free hand. You need one hand for your
punch of choice, and the other for your hammer. Look at the work of
most diamond setters. They mount the work in shellack (or perhaps a
thermoplastic), and then in a vice or engraving block of some kind,
leaving both hands free for other tools and therefore more control.
In any case, even if one hand would do, a ring clamp is fine for
clamping a ring shank into - a normal, flat sided, bog standard ring
shank. But it falls short as a tool for holding a ring with an
awkwardly shaped ring shank, or any other piece of jewellery
whatsoever, such as a pendant, earrings or bracelet, etc. How do you
set stones in a pendant, using a ring clamp? The thermoplastic (or
shellack) in a vice/block holds any piece of jewellery rock solid,
meaning it will be supported perfectly, while applying the necessary
forces to it for stone setting.

I’m planning on doing a couple of blogs over the next few weeks,
covering setting of both cabochons and faceted stones, including
both making the settings and setting the stones in them.

Helen
UK


#12

Sorry Leonid but I do not agree. It is not necessary to ‘compress
metal on the whole stone perimeter at the same time’! With either
fine silver or sterling it is only necessary to close the smaller
areas first such as points or the narrower ends of ovals. It is also
important to start at the lower part of the bezel and work towards
the top. The bezel roller allows this to be done easily, if properly
applied, ending at an almost perpendicular angle to the top of the
bezel.

Of course, sterling is a bit more difficult to close than the fine
silver and usually requires some thinning on the top third of the
wire before setting. I tend to disagree with Helen’s comments that
fine silver bezels are not strong. They are actually very strong and
stable once properly seated. True, premade fine silver bezels sold by
suppliers are normally a bit thin but thicker ones can easily be made
of fine silver sheet stock of any thickness.

The trick it to use one’s shoulder when doing the setting, not the
wrist…this will provide the weight and strength to do the job.
The wrist is very weak and just cannot sustain the force needed to
close a bezel…any bezel. Practice for awhile on fine silver and the
same techniques can also be applied to sterling, except, when dealing
with heavy sterling bezels, …proper hammering techniques will
still be required for them. Though I do not treat how to bezel
sterling, refer to my recent article in Art Jewelry Magazine for more

Cheers from Don in SOFL.


#13
For a bezel roller to work, one must compress metal on the whole
stone perimeter at the same time, which is extremely difficult to
do. 

Even using a punch and chasing hammer, you can’t possibly “compress
metal on the whole stone perimeter at the same time”. The only way
you can do this is to use a bezel setting punch, but this of course
only works for round stones. For every other shape of stone, you
must apply forces at opposite sides of the stone, in a methodical
way, until the bezel is closed onto the stone neatly, all the way
around.

But yes, we’re in agreement that bezel rollers are a nonsense pretty
much. They only work on metal which is far too thin or too soft to
make anything substantial enough for daily wear.

Helen
UK


#14
The trick it to use one's shoulder when doing the setting, not the
wrist....this will provide the weight and strength to do the job.
The wrist is very weak and just cannot sustain the force needed to
close a bezel...any bezel. 

So you do agree, even if you say that you disagree!

The area of contact between bezel roller and a bezel, is larger then
between a pusher and a bezel, and therefore requires more force.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#15

I was taught to set cab stones using the serrated edge of a narrow
pillar file. You hold the file with your forefinger along the back so
the fingertip is at the stone and use a rocking and tilting in
motion. Then use a small punch to close down any gaps.

I never understood a setting roller, you don’t seem to have any
control, maybe it’s just who teaches you?

regards Tim Blades.


#16

I am not sure if anyone has mentioned this before, but I find that
my Badeco flex shaft, hammer handpiece attachment is a great toolfor
bezel setting stones. It has screw in hammer heads which can be
ground to different shapes to suit different jobs. The hammer’s head
strike pressure and amount ofstrikes can also be controlled by a
twist knob control on the handpiece.

USA readers see,
http://www.ottofrei.com/store/product.php?productid=33

UK readers see,
http://tinyurl.com/3yo3q2v

Peace and good health to all
James Miller FIPG


#17

Hi Don,

I tend to disagree with Helen's comments that fine silver bezels
are not strong. They are actually very strong and stable once
properly seated. 

I can see your point, as long as the fine silver is thick enough,
the setting fits the stone really well, and the stone set properly -
I can imagine it would be strong enough, particularly for a pendant
or earrings. But I still have my doubts for something like a
bracelet, rings or cufflinks, which are subject to more wear and
tear. It just dents and scratches too easily, and can go out of
shape. I prefer to make a piece of jewellery which will keep it’s
shape and it’s shine for years, just like a gold piece can do, so I
prefer sterling over fine any day. I suppose if you don’t want a high
shine, preferring the “satin” or brushed look, then fine silver might
be adequate.

True, premade fine silver bezels sold by suppliers are normally a
bit thin but thicker ones can easily be made of fine silver sheet
stock of any thickness. 

I can’t comment on this, as I don’t use premade bezels of any sort.

The trick it to use one's shoulder when doing the setting, not the
wrist....this will provide the weight and strength to do the job. 

If one needs to use your body weight to close a bezel, I can’t see
that there’s an enormous amount of control. The hammer and punch
gives a good deal of control when closing a bezel - once you’re used
to the level of force required.

The wrist is very weak and just cannot sustain the force needed to
close a bezel...any bezel. 

I agree wholeheartedly with that. It’s not just me with really weak
wrists then.

Practice for awhile on fine silver and the same techniques can also
be applied to sterling, except, when dealing with heavy sterling
bezels,....proper hammering techniques will still be required for
them. 

Precisely my point really. You can only turn a sterling bezel with a
bezel roller, IF it’s really thin. The resultant bezel often looks
cheap and nasty due to its thinness. It is also more prone to
puckering at the corners due to the way it doesn’t take up the
slack. Heavier sterling bezel settings take up the slack so you can
avoid puckering, and they frame the stone in a more pleasing way. But
of course that is just my own personal opinion.

Don, I really appreciate and respect what you’re saying, but would
you say that you can make a ring, for example, and construct it with
a stepped bezel for a faceted stone using fine silver, set it and
polish it to a high shine and expect it to last in that condition for
years to come, with daily wear? I just have my doubts. I know that
fine silver bezels have their place, but I think it’s in the art
jewellery field, where someone may be setting a cabochon in a pendant
or earrings, and using texture such as a satin finish on the bezel,
to disguise the scratches which will inevitably result. We just all
do things in a different ways that’s all, and I’m teaching myself to
make hard-wearing fine jewellery (or bridge jewellery as someone said
to me recently).

Helen
UK


#18
I tend to disagree with Helen's comments that fine silver bezels
are not strong. They are actually very strong and stable once
properly seated. 

I agree with Helen (seems to happen often) I have a bunch of fine
silver in my studio, works great when mixed with 7.5% copper by
weight. Alone it is not good for much more than a fancy paper weight.

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#19

Hi Tim

I never understood a setting roller, you don't seem to have any
control, maybe it's just who teaches you? 

It’s a little to do with whatever technique you mange to get used to
but morethan that its developing strength in your hands and wrists
to enable you toguide the pushers and gravers carefully and
accurately without slipping. I find a pusher specially made for rub
over settings to be miles better than the file method. All the master
jewellers and setters I learned from consideredt the file method to
be rough and untidy and I agree. The best method is often the
onethat requires the least clean up of the piece once the stone is
tight. Precise preparation of the bezels and setting areas with any
style of setting can make theactual placing and tightening of the
stone very simple and quick. If your finding you slip a lot either
with a graver or pusher then perhaps you need to workon strength.
Also the length of the instrument can be important and possibly the
mostimportant of all setters rules is keep your thumb resting and
pivoting on or near the workpiece to keep your tool hand from
slipping forward.

Thanks
Phil W


#20
but I find that my Badeco flex shaft, hammer handpiece attachment
is a great tool for bezel setting stones. 

I guess somebody has to point out that the real answer to where this
thread has gone is “all of the above”. Like so many threads and
tutorials, they are only sound-bites. Stock fine silver bezel is
plenty strong for what it’s generally used for. It’s soldered down
and it surrounds the stone. TRY to knock a stone loose… Using it
to set diamonds in open-backed bezels is another matter. I used to
set more than a stone a minute with an engraving block and a plain
steel burnisher…

The you get into bezel punches for circular stones, bezel pushers
for what they are good for, I never used a bezel roller, but that
doesn’t mean it’s no good. Then some situations need the Badeco (or
similar) and for some jobs there’s nothing like a hammer and punch.
Burnishers, gravers, elbow grease. There’s no such thing as “how to
set a bezel” - there’s only the best way to set THIS bezel.