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Packing material behind stones?

I have once again gotten myself into a “pickle” accepting
something to repair for a friend. It is an inexpensive sterling
ring with sentimental value. When I removed the fauceted "stones"
before doing the soldering I found there is a packing material
behind them to raise them. The material used in the previous
packing is white. Ummm… I haven’t a clue what to use to
replace this but know there are some suggestions out there…
Your experience and assistance are most appreciated.

in Idaho

Marie … Try plaster of Paris,that should do the trick.

Cheers Will Francis
Downunder in Oz.

Sawdust is commonly used to back opaque stones in bezel
settings. Jerry in Kodiak

Hi–if the stone is opaque, try using that old stand-by, very
fine sawdust. Does a good job of cushioning and supporting
stones. Sharon Holt

Maire: I have done this several times and usually found sawdust
or fine sand had been used. No matter, simply substitute
whatever was once there if you’ve lost it with the above. Steve

This is done on Native American pieces quite often, and I
learned about it the hard way. Put a piece in the ultrasonic to
clean it and when I removed it the stone fell out of the bezel!

Oops! punched the wrong button.

I find the styrofoam trays that meats, etc., are packaged in
useful. They can be cut to the exact thickness required and
still has enough “give” to protect the stone when you’re pushing
the bezel down.

Have a great day and if you have any positive energy or prayers
please beam them toward Denver. We have a son going through 2nd
brain surgery for cancer tomorrow. Thanks. Joyce


I’m new to the list and am thoroughly enjoying reading all the
tips and tricks here. Please let me know if my method of "reply"
duplicates something.

I don’t know if this idea is good for “packing material”, but
it’s an idea I stumbled upon recently. Maybe it’s a “stupid
jeweler’s trick”! When I fabricate a ring, making a bezel for a
stone, it’s a major pain to fabricate a seat for the stone to
keep it from rocking during and after burnishing in the bezel.
So, I tried putting some clear epoxy into the finished
ring/bezel setting, then seating the stone down in it. Let it
set for the required curing time (maybe even longer!), then
burnish the bezel. Seems to work for me, and might be a good
packing material as well. Of course, I’d only do this with
opaque stones. Do you suppose this is “legal”?:wink: Or is it
cheating? Being trained by a very traditional silversmith,
somehow I wonder… I know that glues are often used in setting
some stones, but I wonder how long it lasts. Any thoughts, or
experiences on how well the epoxy will hold up?

BTW, someone I know uses sawdust as packing material.

Judith Marsh
NW Florida

Howdy All,

I use soft plastic such as coffee cans lids underneath a cab
stone for a cushion.


Okay, cards on the table time, then. I set my flat-bottomed cabs
in a flat-bottomed bezel with a waxed card disc (couple of
weights available) underneath to take some of the pressure in
setting and to keep the stone tight in the bezel. For translucent
stones I fit a shiny reflector of fine gold or fine silver foil
on top of the waxed card.

I believe the wax allows a longer life to the card. I wax the
card by heating a 1/2" steel plate, melting beeswax onto it and
dropping the card into the molten wax. Lift out and cool.

B r i a n =A0 A d a m R u t h B a i r d J e w e l l e r y ph/fx +64 9 817 6816 NEW ZEALAND

Some of my colleagues pack their stones with pieces of old dead
credit cards, cut to size. I prefer not to do that, as one never
knows what kind of chemicals the ring could be subjected to that
would interact negatively with the plastic. If I have to
bezel-set a low stone so that it appears higher, I construct an
inner bearing or use step-bezel wire. However, my cronies do
swear by the credit-card packing, so give it a

I use sawdust to put under a stone to cushion it. Someone once
told me they used silicone caulking compound and I tried it.
Although it was strange to work with, it worked, plus it is
waterproof. Of course, if the bezel is properly turned over the
stone, it should be waterproof. That may be the white "stuff
"behind the ring you have. Old timers used to use cut-up pieces
of credit cards, etc. which never made any sense to me.

Iris in Baltimore

Have you tried saw dust? It works well for me, packs down
nicely. I don’t have to worry about it breaking down. For
stones that you can “see through” pack down the sawdust, then put
some aluminum (sp?) shiny side up over the sawdust and set your
stone as usual. The bottom of your stone will still be on a
shiny surface and will reflect the same as sliver does. When
setting opal cabs (white with bits of fire through them) I paint
the aluminum foil black . . . and then use that atop the sawdust;
it seems to show off more of the opal color.

Have fun!


   ....... So, I tried putting some clear epoxy into the
finished ring/bezel setting, then seating the stone down in it.
 Let it set for the required curing time (maybe even longer!),
then burnish the bezel.  ....... 

G’day; Would this be a good idea? What would one do when the
ring needed resizing? I suppose one could use methylene
dichloride to de-solidify the glue, but that isn’t easy to get
(in this country anyway except as paint stripper, and then it’s
mixed with wax) Perhaps plain beeswax would cushion the stone
sufficiently? At least it wouldn’t be difficult to remove if
necessary. Just a thought (they’re fairly rare at our place)

       / \
     /  /
   /  /                                
 /  /__| \      @John_Burgess2

At sunny Nelson NZ where all the innumerable orchards are in
full blossom. In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to
what the girls had in mind all winter

    Okay, cards on the table time, then. I set my
flat-bottomed cabs in a flat-bottomed bezel with a waxed card
Neat trick Brian! OK, I don't pack anything behind my stones,

but in addition to setting,( almost always bezel), I glue the
heck out of most of my stones before setting them, my customers
aren’t what anyone in their right mind would describe as having a
delicacy about them. I’m fond of a clear cement called “Bond
527”. Made by Bond Adhesives Co in Newark, New Jersey, USA. Phone
info: 1-800-879-0527. This is a clear multi-purpose cement that
is highly viscose when wet, dries clear, and retains some
flexibility after it dries. I put glue into the bezel, wait a few
minutes until the stone is well seated, and then set the bezel
while the glue is still damp. After the cement is completely
dry, I clean off any excess by tracing gently around the edge of
the bezel with a very sharp scribe.

Lisa,(the Santa Ana winds are here, and the fires have begun)
Topanga, CA USA

Some setters use shirtboard and tissue paper for underlayment.
Another trick for backing transluscent stones is to use
diffractive paper, also called laser cut paper. It comes in
different colors, such as red, orange, blue, purple, pink,
green–heck, you name it. It also comes in different patterns;
checkerboard, circles, swirls, rays, etc. It hides the sawdust,
can lend a subtle color enhancement with the irridescence, and
reflects light back out. When I’m designing using a customer’s
stones, some “precious pretties” they’ve picked up in their
travels, which may be less than stellar in quality, I’ll lay them
on these papers and have them choose what they like best. They’re
thrilled to have their stones with sentimental value look great,
and I’m not ashamed to have these stones in one of my designs.

Almost sounds like some of the indian jewelry I’ve had to work
on from time to time…sawdust is one of the packing ingredients
and another is cardboard. Almost anything along those lines will
work for a replacement.

I have tried the sawdust and the cushioning effect seem to allow
the stone to float!! That is, I can’t easily tighten the stone
with the ‘bounce’ privide by the sawdust… comments please.


Jim: I would say that if you’re having that problem, you are
trying to push too much metal over your stones. This method is
only used on pieces with thin bezels such as sterling/turquoise
jewelry which you would simply burnish over. Hope this helps;

   I have tried the sawdust and the cushioning effect seem to
allow the stone to float!! That is, I can't easily tighten the
stone with the 'bounce' privide by the sawdust.... comments

Make sure you use a bezel which is high enough. Put a bit of
the saw dust in the bezel cup, pack it down a bit, put your stone
in (the bezel should still be high enough to grip the stone,)
start to push your bezel around the stone (opposite sides, as
usual.) You may not be pushing hard enough while trying to
tighten stone into place.

If I have to remove the stone for any reason, I usually find
that the saw dust is packed down well enough that it won’t fall
out when the cup is turned up- side down.

Sometimes, if the bezel isn’t very high, I may use only enough
saw dust to cover the bottom of the cup . . . just to help level
the stone.

Hope this helps!!