Making an oval bezel without a mandrel

I need to create oval bezel settings for a set of six 18x 25mm

The style is southwestern, somewhat “concho-like”. I’m also planning
some decorative wire work to go around the outside of the setting in
concentric rings, to be soldered onto the backplate. So they will
also need to be ovals of the same proportions, but larger still.

As far as I can tell, commercial mandrels don’t come in this size -
it is too large for a ring mandrel and too small for a bracelet
mandrel. This is a problem for me because I am accustomed to
hammering the bezel/decorative concentric wire rings on a mandrel
after soldering in order to achieve the correct shape and size (I
always use calibrated cabochons).

Any advice on how to either make a mandrel or get by without one?

Anything can be a mandrel. How about a socket from a tool kit or the
head of a hammer. Anything steel and cylindrical.

Anything can be used to form a bezel including the stones themselves.
In fact that’s my favorite way to make a bezel, is just wrap the
stone. HTH

Use your eyes and the horn of a small anvil. You can also shape it
by putting it over the ends of a large set of half round or chain
nose pliers and open the pliers slowly until you get to where you
want to go. You have a little more tolerance as the bezel gets
bigger. The challenge is soldering it to the plate keeping it flat
and not changing shape as you heat it. Try to heat it evenly to
control this motion. Rob

Rob Meixner

I need to create oval bezel settings for a set of six 18x 25mm

The simplest way is to get an 18 x 25 MM stone and form the bezel
around the stone. Make sure it is the right sized stones as many
aren’t what they are advertised at. Steve Ramsdell

Hello Marie, you might want to try searching online for: - earring
mandrel - steel hoop mandrel For example, Rio Grande sells a steel
hoop mandrel (with or without the tang for clamping in a vise) for
approx $28 USD. - it is 12" long - it is graduated from 9mm to 51mm
(3/8" to 2") you can make a master oval out of wire to determine the
length needed and then use that length measurement and make a round
bezel (wall) and then shape/ smoosh the circle into the desired oval
shape and mark the mandrel with tape or sharpie for repeatable
ovals. this mandrel is a great addition to a collection.

Best Regards, Julie

Maybe cut it out of wax and cast it, mold it and cast the rest?

You can form the oval bezel around the stone itself. Usually no
problem with a cabochon. Oval bezels can also be formed by simply
squeezing and forming a round bezel made from metal of the
appropriate length. (Multiply the stone’s length plus width, divided
by 2 plus metal thickness times 3.1416 (pi)).

Jerry in Kodiak

This works well for thin fine silver bezels, but most of my bezels
are fairly thick and made of sterling silver. I can usually bend the
bezel material around a stone to get an approximate length, but it
still usually needs to be sized up or down after the first solder
and fitting to the stone. Being fairly thick and sterling, it also
has a bit of a memory and will eventually have to be squeezed, bent,
forged or whatever it takes to get to the right size and shape. With
experience, I have been able to get to where I can usually get it
right after the first solder, but there is still some manipulation
needed. I have not tried the calculation that you offer. I will the
next time to see how it works. Thanks. Rob

Rob Meixner

I usually cut a narrow piece of masking tape and put it around the
stone, then take it off and put it on the metal as a guide for
length. At least that gets me in the ball park, even if I have to
take a bit off when I’m fitting it around the stone before I solder
it. This works for all sorts of odd shape stones.

Janet Kofoed

I have done this with a narrow strip of index card stock. Will try
tape next just to see how it works. Thanks. Rob

Rob Meixner

I agree with the others that you may not need any mandrel. I usually
wrap the bezel wire around the stone. Bezel wire is pretty thin and

The gems you are using are good sized so it should be fairly easy to
use this method

Hi Rob, have ever considered using thicker fine silver instead of
sterling? I start with 16 gauge sheet and roll some down to 20 and
cut a piece off and roll the rest down to 22 gauge. I use a sheer to
cut strips. It is a lot easier to set. Vince LaRochelle, Oaktidge, Or., usa.

Vincent- Using fine silver or higher karat gold is a very good idea
for bezel setting fragile stones.

A 22gg bezel may be fine for earrings or a pendant, but I feel it is
too thin for a ring.

I prefer 18 gg or heavier for a ring depending on the stone and the
look I want.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

I have used thicker fine silver in the last couple pieces and I did
and like the results. It was probably around 16 gauge when I finished
rolling it. My problem with the thin fine silver bezel material that
you buy in a roll is that it is very fragile and can be easily
damaged in the process of assembling the piece, finishing it, and,
especially, when I roll the bezel. After forty years, I know that I
still have a lot to learn about bezel setting stones. Thanks. Rob

Rob Meixner

  1. Draw the oval on plexiglas, cut out.

  2. File angle all the way around edge, to about 1/2 way down.

  3. Picture 4, bevel.

  4. Wrap bezel around.

  5. Pic 6, register mark.

  6. Solder and place plexiglass on top.

  7. Tap down, gently, do on both sides If bezel is too big, cut down,
    if too small, stretch up, use ring mandrel, then anneal.

  8. Bend if needed, go across at an angle to get wider area, more
    control, larger area, gentle pressure, small change.

  9. Finished bezel.


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I take a thicker sheet of wax, trace my shape with a needle tool,
cut and then file it to the shape I need, then I have a nice vertical
surface to form the bezel wire around. Good luck!

I use the tape method, and had used thin strips of masking tape, but
I saw a wire wrapper once using quilting tape to wrap around the
stone and used that length for measuring the wire. I tried it to
measure the stone and it worked great. Quilting tape is about 1/4
inch in width and easier to work with than masking tape. After the
bezel is soldered I test fit it over the stone, and then take the
correcting action. Most times the fit is perfect with nothing more to
do to the bezel.