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Removing stones from bezels


#1

Again I am asking for help - I need to remove some stones from bezel
settings so I can re-make a ring into a pendant.

I made this ring for a customer using her stones - she wanted me to
use 7 of them, I talked her into using 5 and told her that I thought
the ring would still be too large for her. We agreed on a design
and with much trouble I made the ring and sure enough the ring is
too big (that is the top part) - now she wants me to remake the top
part into a pendant and add some more design and another stone.
Today I tried to loosen the bezels, managed to get the opal and the
ruby out but the garnet was chipping away as I dug at the bezel.
the bezels are 22k yellow, the ring base is sterling and there is
some more design with 14k gold. Is there a better way to push out the
bezel? I’m using an exacto knife, the only thing thin enough to
begin to get under the lip of the bezel. Besides the garnet, I
still have a sapphire and a so called diamond to do.

Thanks in advance.
Jan McClellan
in Eastern Oregon where it is finally feeling like summer.


#2

Jan, You can make a tool just for this purpose by forging a flooring
nail at the head end to a thin slight curve and then hardening it.
(you’ll have to look up the directions for what color to heat the
steel to) The pointy end can then be pushed into a small wooden
graver handle that nestles into the palm of your hand. These nails
are also great for making pushing tools to close bezels. Good luck.
Jan


#3

Jan,

If you are willing to render the bezel useless, use a pumice wheel
to abrade the bezel top until it is worn through.

Linda


#4

Jan - I use old dental hygienist tools for bezel openers. My
dentist’s staff discard them when the tips break off. The specific
tool which makes the best bezel opened is the curved tool they use
for scraping down the surface of a tooth. I resharpen the broken tip
end, and do it on a slight angle. This leaves a shallow point/deep
curve on the lower edge which I make very thin and sharp: this
allows me to “rock” the edge down between stones and their bezels,
slowly stretching the metal. Once the top surface is slightly
opened, I can then gently force the entire tip of the tool in, and
slowly draw it around the stone. Most often I am able to reuse the
setting and the stone(s).

Jim Small
Small Wonders


#5

I made a tool from a half round needle file. With a mizzy wheel, make
a concave on one side, convex on the other side, make all edges very
thin, with a shape like a shovel. When grinding, do not heat up the
tool and change the hardness. I actually use lapidary equipment with
water to cool while sanding the Polish well. If you can work the
point in somewhere, you then slide the tool sideways. First go you
just want to get a small seperation of the very top of the bezel
moving it away from the stone, then push a little harder and go
deeper on subseqent passes. If you are very careful and you learn to
use just the right amount of pressure, you can not damage either
stone or bezel. Naturally, higher karat gold and sterling are easier
than 14 kt. The length of the tool is 4 inches, for me, the end of
the tool is where my little finger meets my palm, my thumb will be on
the back of the tool with about a half inch of the tool past my
thumb gives great control. Again, the leading edge of the tool must
be very thin and polished. Richard in Denver


#6

Removing stones from bezels is always problematical. We would
normally present the option, “do you want to save the bezel or the
stone?” If saving the stone is the priority, the only safe way is to
cut the bezel then repair it afterwards. Sometimes you can push the
stone out from behind, but that is very risky depending on the stone
and how much metal is over it. I would be inclined to cut the top
off of the bezels and install new ones to get the best job. This
would also make reseting much easier and safer. Bezels are cheap
compared with labor and replacing customers gem stones!

Spike Cornelius
Portland, Or.
RC ArtMetal


#7

Jan , Two approaches to jewelry re-work , which is more important
the piece or the stones?. Often the time to make a piece is worth
more than the stones within.Sometimes the value of the
stones[intrinsic or sentimental] outweighs the value of the piece. If
it’s the piece , [the stones are not expensive and are easily
replacable] then push them out or break them out . I often regret
having to destroy something but if you plan on it you are in control
and can easily reset the new stones . If you must keep the stones
intact one trick is too use a very sharp and fine pointed graver to
cut through the bezel at some point [or multiple places] then it can
be opened in a more controllable fashion .You repair the bezel
afterwards. I have ground and polished a curve on the side of a
graver so it can clear the stone and undercut the bezel [ now you
are going around the stone ] to give that last little bit of
clearance before removal [ this can work on flush set stones also].
With modest precautions you can solder /rework the piece with the
sapphire and diamond left in their settings [ you do know whether it
IS or IS NOT a diamond?] As a side observation it is very important
to know what your customers stones really are. If the customer
thinks its a diamond and its not , YOU may be liable to replace it
with a real diamond in the event of some mishap . You can expose
yourself to thousands or 10’s of thousands dollars of problems by
making a piece that you sold for , say , $100 , if you can’t
document what really went in to it. I had a lady , reluctant to leave
me her two carat CZ, that she had just purchased at the wholesale
show for $ 6,000 . I had to ask her if she knew it was a CZ ? She
did not know . Imagine the problems if I had gone ahead and made the
ring and she had later learned it was a CZ , not the almost flawless
diamond she believed she had .

Mark Clodius


#8

I made a tool from a half round needle file. With a mizzy wheel,
make a concave on one side, convex on the other side, make all edges
very thin, with a shape like a shovel. When grinding, do not heat up
the tool and change the hardness. I actually use lapidary equipment
with water to cool while sanding, then polish well. If you can work
the point in somewhere, you then slide the tool sideways. First go,
you just want to get a small seperation of the very top of the bezel
moving it away from the stone, then push a little harder and go
deeper on subseqent passes. If you are very careful and you learn to
use just the right amount of pressure, you MIGHT not damage either
stone or bezel. Naturally, higher karat gold and sterling are easier
than 14 kt. The length of the tool is 4 inches, for me, the end of
the tool is where my little finger meets my palm, my thumb will be
on the back of the tool with about a half inch of the tool past my
thumb gives great control. Again, the leading edge of the tool must
be very thin and polished. Richard in Denver


#9

I have been able to use dental cleaning tools with good luck. I have
a variety of shapes, sizes, thicknesses, etc. They are good for
working the bezel loose and also for reaching under the stone,
though it does take some care and practice.

J. S. (Sue) Ellington


#10

I use an exacto knife for removing I use an abrasive
disc to take it down to a very thin blade…even up the blade so
there is not a thick edge and round off the tip . You can gently
pry the bezel if it is fairly thin. If it is too thick you may have
to remove the bezel. I have successfully removed the bezel with
sawing at the base andd then re-soldered it to the ring. I have had
to slice the bezel open at one side.and open it to get the stone out.
Most of it is workable. I would never recommend grinding off a
bezel unless you don’t want the wtone. It is too easy to scrape
the stone and unless you have the tools to repolish, don’t grind!


#11

My thanks to everyone who answered my question about removing stones
from bezels. This is the best group ever!!! I did manage to get the
stones out, although i damaged the garnet - thank goodness it is
inexpensive to replace. I couldn’t save the bezels (I had really
smoothed those edges down) so I’m in the process of remaking them -
trying to get the seat even enough in amongst the gold nuggets
scattered around the original bezels - so the bezels will solder
down without gaps - no doubt I should just start over. This is the
project from hell, hopefully I have learned when to say NO to a
customer who comes to me with an impossible scheme. Thanks again for
all of your wonderful suggestions. Jan McClellan


#12

I don’t know, Jan. I’ve been at it for 26 years and still haven’t
learned to say NO to those harebrained schemes some customers have
dreamed up. Been sorry a bunch of times, too. But isn’t the
challenge of doing the impossible part of why we are here instead of
doing data entry at some insurance company? No offense intended to
those folks, but a job like that would kill me quick.


#13

A good way to remove the old bezel and leave a flat spot to solder
the new one to is to take a hart bur and grind off the point till
there is a knife edge. put the flat against the inside bottom of the
bezel and cut it off from the inside.

Spike Cornelius
Portland, Or.
RC ArtMetal