Keeping the shape of gold bezel

I am trying to keep the exact shape of an 18 karat, yellow gold
bezel prior soldering it onto a sterling back without it losing it’s
form… Any ideas? I have annealed it several times but it is still

Is there something I can cut out to emulate the outline of the stone
and place it on the metal and it won’t burn up or solder itself to
the metal?

Kindly advise and many thanks
Lesley Rahner


I am wondering what gauge your 18K bezel is. If it is too thin,
which yours seems to be, then it will be hard to keep it from
distorting while getting it set onto the back plate and soldered into
place. Try a 22 ga. or thicker bezel thickness, which should hold its
shape well.

I would also want to know what the gold alloy in the bezel is. It
almost sounds like a “spring” alloy, if you’ve tried to anneal it and
it still won’t hold the shape it’s bent into.

You might also make sure your sterling back plate is beefy enough to
not warp under soldering heat. I try to solder bezels onto a back
plate by using a soldering screen, and use a large, rather soft flame
beneath the back plate.

Hope that helps…
Jay Whaley

I’ve used two methods - both worked. I first drew the undistorted
shape on the backplate so I could verify that the bezel was in the
correct position.

Method 1: Using a graver, raise little stitches at strategic places
to hold the bezel in its correct shape. Flux, place solder paillons,
and solder. A possible disadvantage is that the stitches may be
visible after soldering, and will have to be removed.

Method 2: Use old, rusty, paper-clips to hold the bezel correctly,
then proceed as above. The solder won’t stick to the rust.

I found method 2 to be the easiest.

Regards, Gary Wooding

Hello Lesley,

Try cutting a small groove into the silver the shape of the stone,
and then sitting your gold bezel into that groove. Now the solder
will flow in the groove and the bezel should stay the shape you need.

Hope this helps. Sigi

If you know anyone who has some titanium sheet, say 1mm thick. Saw
and file out the required shape and place in the bezel. Though I
cannot understand why it should be necessary at all, unless you are
using incredibly thin gold???

I often use titanium jigs for all sorts of holding and location
problems. And use a titanium pusher for soldering, the solder wont
adhere to titanium.

embed into plaster and solder from behind…


If the design permits, size the base to the stone and the bezel to
the base. Then put the base inside the bezel and solder.

A sterling base can be used in this fashion and the bezel will show
as all gold without a silver band at the bottom.

J Collier

Lesley, that is why I use 22k gold for my bezels. It’s soft, holds
the shape you need, and is much easier to work with than 18k. I cost
is of course higher but time saved makes it worth it for me.

Lisa Hawthorne

From this side of the internet I would venture the problem is the
bezel is not formed correctly. Others have pointed out that it
needs to be annealed and not a springy alloy and needs to be
thicker rather than paper thin. One other thing, and I just don't
'get' the why of it...but many people seem to think a bezel has to
exactly conform to the stone size/outline, to the point where they
then say, "I put it in for a trial fit and now its stuck!" I have
to stop and ask, WHY would you put yourself through that? 

I don’t know about other folks but to me, a perpendicular (finished)
bezel wall is not attractive, this is jewelry not This Old House. A
perpendicular bezel does not hold as well as when the wall is canted
in a little bit. So make the bezel oversize. It won’t get stuck, its
not as sensitive to heat distortion. Besides, if you make a super
tight fit you’ll likely put undue pressure on the girdle and might
meet up with some last minute heartache if the stone chips.

I’d have to have a darned good reason to use anything thinner than
.020" (don’t ask me what gauge that is) and usually I’d prefer
something like .030-.050" (can you see the car geek in me?). If you
think that’s heavy looking you can trim once its done with a pumice
wheel. I have my own pet theory about why super thin sheet warps when
heated or bent. The forces of expansion/contraction manifest
themselves on the surface. The closer the two surfaces are the more
they interact. There’s no mush factor. The surfaces are more locked
together when there’s very little material between them. Just a pet
theory, not science by any means.

So one might ask if the bezel is bigger how do you form it over the
stone? A little at a time. Use a rocker. If you have to use a
burnisher don’t slide it along, rock it with its concave surface
toward the stone(assuming its round or oval). The sliding action will
definitely distort the metal at this point because what are you
doing? You’re stretching it lengthwise, short road to more
springiness. Slide it at the end to finesse the edge, not in the

Some of the tricks mentioned might work, I’ll assume they do. I just
think its better to circumvent a problem before it presents itself.
Less work that way.

Well has been stated it is better to make the bezel a slight bit
bigger than the circumference of the stone if it is a cabochon. If it
is a brilliant cut or diamond cut stone that changes the playing

In setting the cabochon, you will always want to make sure the height
of the bezel is able to bend over the apex of the stone. You start to
set with the aforementioned rocker at the quad points of the stone.
Then, by working from the middle of the non-depressed areas toward
the quad points it will not distort. If you have a diamond cut stone,
cut the seat as normal for prongs from the top down using a setting
bur to a depth of where 10% of the bezel will cover the crown. Use
the same techique in setting this kind of stone working opposites for
first compressions on the quads and repeat working from the
non-depressed areas toward the quads and finish up. The main reasons
for using this techniques is to keep the stone level, hopefully the
cut seat is the same, and it will not distort the bezel in the
finished product.