Making L-shaped bearer wire


I am new to this so please excuse me if the question is stupid.

I am a Lapidary and wish to find a way of setting my freeform
cabochons in silver, To this end I have done some research and found
that one way would be to use bearer wire formed round the cab and
soldered with a bail attached.

I have found a couple of sources to buy the bearer wire but was
wondering if there was a way of making the L shaped bearer wire
myself. I’m a canny Scot always trying to save a penny or two.

Is any of this possible? or should I just go ahead and buy the
manufactured bearer wire.

Best regards

Hello Andy,

There are no stupid questions. You asked about making "bearer wire"
vs. simply buying the manufactured version. By “bearer wire”, I think
you mean flat bezel strip with a small step to be used as a seat for
the back of the cab. Rio calls it “stepped bezel.” With that
assumption, I’ll proceed.

It is certainly possible to fabricate the wire. However, as a
beginning silversmith, you may find it a challenge to solder square
wire along the edge of bezel strip. (This WOULD be a good learning
experience and hone your soldering skills.) In the long run though, I
think you’ll decide that your time is better spent cabbing or
exploring other mounting methods. A “canny Scot” has to decide which
is the most valuable way to use his/her time. Try the manufactured
stepped bezel wire first. Learn to shape the bezel and to solder the
edges so that the seam is not detectable. Then try your soldering
skills on strip and square wire. You are more likely to be successful
and make an informed decision about what to buy and what to fabricate

That said, the manufactured stepped bezel wire will not work for all
cabs. The stone’s thickness, side slopes, and general size are
considerations. Therefore, you should learn other ways to mount your
freeform cabs. Such as: using bezel strip and sheet silver… or
using strips of heavier sheet and cutting tabs to be bent over and
under for the seat… or combining wire with sheet… or…the list
goes on.

I admire those who can cut cabs. Maybe some day I could learn that
skill too. :-\

Judy in Kansas, where the strawberries are producing enough to make
lots of yummy jam.


Looking for a thrifty, low labor way out to set gems in silver? I’ve
bee= n looking for the same thing and people are mentioning using
fine silver precious metal clay to set a gem into a fine silver
article. You then have to fire the article, including the gem. People
say it works fine but the caveat is you have to use gems that can
stand the firing temperature. I haven’t tried it yet myself, just
reporting my research.

Andrew Jonathan Fine

Heres another benchwork tip for you owners of Durston D2 mills with
side rollers. If you ask, Durston will sell you un hardened blank
side rollers that fit their Mills. Some fifteen years ago I had an
order for making medals set with various size cabochon moonstones. I
could not but the correct size bearer wire so I purchased one of the
Durston blank side rollers, set it on my lathe and turned recesses
of the shape of bearers I needed, I turned three different size
bearers on the one roller. I then had heated the roller on my forge
to a bright red color before quenching it in an oil bath. Then I
polished the roller with emory paper and tempered the steel, heating
it to a straw colour before quenching, a straw colour is the temper
that I use for my gravers. Finally I polished the roller before
fitting it to my 23 year old D2 Durston Mill, using fine silver wire
I could easily roll any lengths of bearer wire with ease. Recently a
friend of mine took on a similar medal job so I sold him the bearer
wire roller at a nice profit.

Peace and good health to all
James Miller FIPG
(Fellow of the Institute of Professional Goldsmiths)

fine silver precious metal clay to set a gem into a fine silver
article. You then have to fire the article, including the gem. 

Aside from the fact that fine silver is quite a soft metal which
will quickly show scratches and knocks, mounting gems in this manner
is not very satisfactory imho. Many of the gems I’ve seen mounted and
fired in metal clay have ended up looking fairly battered and/or
frosty. Obviously it depends which stones you pick, but it’s severely
limiting, and if you pick the wrong ones, they will ruin.

Then there’s the neatness of the setting. A bezel formed out of
metal clay often ends up looking like a child made it out of

It’s not all that difficult to learn how to fabricate settings for
gems using sterling silver sheet (more durable than fine silver).
Personally, in answer to the “making L-shaped bearer wire” question,
I make a bezel to fit snugly around the outside of the stone - using
0.5 mm sterling sheet. I then make another bezel to fit snugly
inside the first bezel. This second bezel is shorter in height than
the first, by the amount I need to fold over the curve of the
cabochon. Before I solder it into the first bezel, I make sure the
top surface is sanded really flat and smooth, so as to make a nice
seat for the cabochon. I only make this type of setting for
transparent/translucent cabs. For opaque cabs, I make a bezel and
solder it onto flat sterling sheet. For faceted stones, I follow the
same method as for transparent cabs, with the difference in height
being enough to just fold over the girdle of the stone, but I cut an
angled seat in the top of the inner bezel to fit the pavilion of the
stone. Such settings are a little trickier than those for cabochons,
but they’re achievable with practice.

Helen Hill