Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Rub over or bezel setting


#1

Hello all,

Please can anyone help me? I am a newby learning the art of making
silver jewellery as I go along. I am having a problem setting stones
in my latest pieces.

I have painstakingly fabricated a pendant, ring and earrings for my
daughter for her school prom next week. The design looks a little
like “bubbles”. I am using two sizes of stones, 6mm brilliant cut
cubic zirconia and 4mm round cut rhodolite garnets. I constructed the
pieces by making bezels, then soldering them onto base plates. These
little “pots” were then soldered together just at the base so that
the tops could still be folded over the edges of the stones. The
pieces were very successfully and neatly made and myself and my
daughter were thrilled with the result. The pieces were duly polished
ready to set the stones. I made bearer wires so that the faceted
stones would sit in the correct places inside the “pots” and so that
they would be straight. However, when it came to folding the silver
over the stones, I am having great problems doing this neatly. I have
tried using a bezel pusher as I’ve done before.

I know that professional stone setters can train for years and that
one is always learning, but unfortunately I do not have the luxury
of being able to go back to university to learn that way. Please,
please, please could you advise me how to accomplish this neatly.
I’ve done it successfully on larger stones, but obviously then the
thickness of the silver is proportionately smaller and easier to
bend over or push onto the stone. 6 or 4mm stones are a lot more
tricky to set this way. Are there any tricks of the trade I can try.
The gauge of silver I am using is the thinnest I am able to get,
0.3mm. I am probably going to have to start from scratch and make the
whole set again, much to my chagrin.

Please help if you can. Many thanks.

Helen Hill


#2

Helen,

No need to start over! Try the following…

  1. Remove some metal from your bezels on the inside to thin out the
    metal a bit. You can do this with a small grinding wheel, a needle
    file, or a bur such as a hart bur or ball bur in your flexshaft. BE
    CAREFUL doing this so you remove the metal consistently and not too
    much. This will help you burnish over the edges. You only need to
    thin the metal around the top of the bezel (the part that actually
    will get pushed over the stone) - not all the way down to where the
    wall meets the floor.

  2. A bezel pusher is really only the first tool/step for a neat
    bezel. You may have to make several passes around each stone to get
    the wall pushed over - patience is key. This gets the basic push over
    in place to hold the stone, but isn’t your finishing tool. That’s
    where the burnisher comes into play. It’s shaped like a blunt, fat
    butter knife and is highly polished. Once you get the basic edges
    pushed, start using the burnisher to sweep the metal up and toward
    the stone, using a hold and motion very similar to peeling an apple.
    Keep working your way around (it will take several passes) until your
    bezel is smooth and shiny all around. Now you can do your final
    polish.

Given that you’re a newbie, I probably shouldn’t mention this next,
because it can be a controversial and somewhat dangerous (to the
piece) technique. But if you use caution and a good tool, it can get
you out of an otherwise unpushable bezel. If you have a good pair of
flat-nosed pliers with smooth (ideally polished) jaws, you can use
them to do the initial push-over on a bezel that is being stubborn.
The key is to keep the bottom jaw of the pliers flat across the
bottom of the bezel cup and GENTLY but firmly use the top jaw’s angle
as leverage to push over the bezel wall. You need to be careful not
to distort the cup, and you must be very aware of where, exactly,
you’re apply the pressure. This is a technique that you might want to
try first with your cabs instead of your faceted settings, as
there’s must less chance of popping the stone out or breaking it with
a cab. To me, that’s a

SO. Deep breaths, no panic, and you’ll be fine.

No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry


#3

Hello Hellen, It sounds as if you have done fine building the suite
until this problem. If you have no stones in the pieces, straighten
the bezels out so that they look smooth and round. Can you now
anneal the pieces so that the bezels are again soft ? Solder any
splits in the metal at this time. Get the pieces ready to set. Use a
setting punch instead of a pusher. I don’t think the metal is too
thick at all. Let me discribe a setting punch: if the stone is 5mm,
the bezel.3mm and a good fit, the punch is at least 5.6mm at the end
and has a tapered opening in it. This tapered opening must be big
enough to fit over the bezel. Push it firmly over the bezel or tap it
lightly with a small hammer. This will close the bezel evenly over
the stone all around. And then your daughter can go to the prom. Let
me know if there are any questions. Have fun.

Tom Arnold


#4

Don’t scrap it yet even if the bezel is damaged you can use emery to
sand it level again I was taught to use prong settings for faceted
stones though I have seen some faceted set flush hope someone can
help. Also you can heat the pieces and remove the bezels once solder
flows again and replace them the original piece should be fine

Teri
Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry
www.corneliusspick.com


#5

Hello Helen,

get a set of bezel puches from Rio. They resemble large beading tools
and fit over the bezel. A couple of good taps and the bezel is folded
over neetly and evenly.

Good luck,
Hans


#6

A lot of the trick to bezel setting stones is having the piece that
you are setting held firmly. Forming or pushing the metal over a
stone without slipping and breaking it requires a lot of control and
significant pressure. It really helps if the item is in a ring clamp,
die ball, inside ring holder clamp, on a ring mandrel, or stuck in a
block of jet set. I have a pusher tool that I use for much of my
setting, I made it over 30 years ago; a short piece of 3/16 inch
square tool steel forged into a slightly curved face about 2x7 mm.
The handle is a large pear shaped graver handle, the overall length
is about 2 3/4 inches, and I have large hands… The whole last joint
of my thumb sticks out past the tip, allowing me to use it to anchor
and steady the tool while applying considerable pressure on a bezel.
I sand the face with 320 grit once in a while to give it some tooth
so it doesn’t, hopefully, slip…

Polish the tool marks off the bezel with a pumice wheel.

Rick Hamilton

P.S.
I am sure I missed some very ingenious holding methods…


#7

Dear Tom,

setting punch: if the stone is 5mm, the bezel .3mm and a good
fit, the punch is at least 5.6mm at the end and has a tapered
opening in it. This tapered opening must be big enough to fit over
the bezel. Push it firmly over the bezel or tap it lightly with a
small hammer. This will close the bezel evenly over the stone all
around. 

Wow, the setting punch you describe sounds exactly what I am looking
for. You’re right, up until the point of setting the stones, it all
went very smoothly and the cups were lovely and round, the bearers
the right height and just enough room for the stones. However, in
attempting to set the stones I have distorted some of the cups so
now it does not look neat at all. My daughter is really happy with
the result but I am not.

I have not seen these tools before. Are they readily available? If so
I definitely need to get a set. Thank you so much for your helpful
advice.

Regards,
Helen


#8

Hans,

I am definitely going to get some of these. I had the same suggestion
from another Orchid member and they sound ideal.

I had a reply from someone saying that he/she was taught to prong
set faceted stones and bezel set cabochons. I apologise to whoever it
was as I accidentally pressed the delete button instead of the reply
button so I am piggy-backing on this reply! I know it is traditional
to prong set them but many jewellers bezel set faceted stones and it
gives exactly the contemporary look that my daughter is looking for.
I will be looking for the bezel punches today.

Many thanks to all those who’ve offered their advice.

Regards,
Helen


#9

Dear Rick,

Your homemade tool sounds like a good idea. It sounds very similar to
one of my prong pushing tools but with one of the square faces given
a slight curve. Modifying that may be a good move as I tend to use my
other prong pusher for pushing prongs.

Thanks.
Helen


#10

Helen; It really shouldn’t be much of a problem perhaps you are
extending the bezel too far above the stone. On a stone that small
you only need maybe 1 mm or so to hold the stone. Another thing you
can do is feather the edge with a file or small foredom tool. Remove
a small amount of the material around the edge of the bezel so it is
thinner on the edge. Are you using a seat inside the bezel to keep
the faceted stone from tipping? If not when you set the bezel the
stone may lean as you set the bezel. I cut a small bezel strip lower
than the outside and insert it. I never solder it so it can be
removed and redone if the size is not right When I set the stone it
pushes the insert tight against the walls of the outer bezel. I have
never had one fall out that was sized properly. Some may disagree
with this practice and suggest that the bezel seat be soldered in
place.

Dave Owen


#11

Dear Karen,

Thanks so much for your email. It was extremely helpful. I’m afraid
I did start over and made the whole set again but I will be using
your advice of thinning out the inside tops of the bezels as this
will make them easier to push onto the stones. I had made the
settings too bit (this was after a few attempts where they were too
small) so when I smoothed the metal over the stones, some of them
ended up no longer round but almost triangular. I have now made them
so that they will be a much more snug fit and therefore they’ll be
round when the bezels are pushed.

I’ve tried many methods of this type of setting. I’ve used the round
nosed pliers method before out of desperation, and i’ve also pushed
a stubborn bezel over a large stone using a nylon mallet! It worked a
treat and left no tool marks, but these are too small for that to
work.

Thanks again Karen.

Helen


#12

Dear Dave,

It really shouldn't be much of a problem perhaps you are extending
the bezel too far above the stone. On a stone that small you only
need maybe 1 mm or so to hold the stone. 

I had just about 1mm to fold over. My problem lay more in the fact
that the silver was too thick so your suggestion to thin it out
should do the trick I think.

Are you using a seat inside the bezel to keep the faceted stone
from tipping? If not when you set the bezel the stone may lean as
you set the bezel. I cut a small bezel strip lower than the outside
and insert it. I never solder it so it can be removed and redone if
the size is not right When I set the stone it pushes the insert
tight against the walls of the outer bezel. I have never had one
fall out that was sized properly. Some may disagree with this
practice and suggest that the bezel seat be soldered in place. 

Yes I am using such a strip and I only bother soldering them in if
the back is open. In this case, the backs are closed so I too didn’t
see the point of soldering them in as they are not going to go
anywhere when the stones are secured in place by the bezels. Why make
more work for ourselves than is necessary I say!

My other problem was that the diameter of the bezels was too big. The
stones had too much room so by the time I got the bezels over them,
the tube settings were no longer round in some cases. Very ugly, so
I’ve ended up starting again. I will take your suggestion of thinning
out the tops of the bezels though. Thank you.

Helen


#13

Hi Helen, Bezel closing punches are readily available from most tool
houses. The degree of taper on the inside is important. Not too
steep. Have fun.

Tom Arnold


#14

Hi Tom,

Bezel closing punches are readily available from most tool houses.
The degree of taper on the inside is important. Not too steep.

Thanks for the suggestion. I was not aware of bezel closing punches -
it sounds like a must-have!

Helen


#15

Helen,

Just to clarify, I don’t use ROUND nose pliers, but FLAT nose pliers
(there are a variety of widths available, so you can find the ones
that are just right for what you’re doing).

The most reliable (but also scariest) method is to use a set of
chasing punches and a lead-filled mallet to tap the bezels over. You
can do any size/shape/variation of bezel (unlike bezel punches which
restrict you to the sizes and shapes created by the manufacturers)
and you have perfect control over how to shape and smooth the bezel.
I’d encourage you to explore this technique and develop a comfort
with it as it will be one you can use in many situations.

Good luck - make sure you post a picture when you’re done so we can
all see the end result!

Karen
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry


#16

All,

I’ve been watching this thread about bezel closing punches and have
an observation.

Do not look upon this little item as a cure all. Yes, you can buy
punches from most suppliers but know some things before doing so.

First, they can be quite expensive. Any precision tool of this
nature is going to cost a fair sum. I would not plan to spend such a
sum unless I plan to set a loooot of stones of a particular size and
shape.

Second, they are not all that easy to use. If you are setting
calibrated faceted stones, you have many problems to consider; girdle
thickness, crown height, etc. If setting cabs…all cabs are not the
same shape. Some have high shoulders, some low, some calibrated, many
are not. One punch will not satisfy all situations.

They can be dangerous to the stone. In an unpracticed hand, breaking
a stone is a certainty. Tap, tap, tap…when is it too hard, when
too soft?

Finally, they are not a final answer. The punches are made to bring
the bezel over and onto the stone’s shoulder…not necessarily down
to the stone. So, after using a punch to properly center the stone
(another potential problem) and the stone is nicely seated, the bezel
rim will still need to be brought down to the stone surface.

For the periodic bezel, I would say to you…learn how to properly
prepare a bezel and then learn how to properly use a bezel roller!!
Search the archives…there are a number of hints and directions on
how to do it properly (written some myself) and I am in process of
writing an article for publication on the subject. Unfortunately it
will be a while before it comes out but I will say that a little
practice and, with proper use of the roller, you will rarely even
need to use a burnishers. My article is written but still have to do
the pictures for it. If anyone in Orchid would like a copy now, let
me know and I will send it to you via email. Be cautious here and
save yourself some pain!

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!


#17

Could not agree more except I would replace “can be dangerous” with
"always dangerous". Using punch you moving a lot of metal at the
same time. It takes a lot of force. All that force is transfered
towards the stone. Traditional technique of closing bezel a little at
a time is the only acceptable unless you working with nephrite.

Leonid Surpin


#18

I’ve been setting rubovers with punches for 25 years and have taught
countless students the same technique.

In my opinion it’s far safer than the traditional methods of using
burnishers to rub over the bezel unless the bezel is really thin.
With a punch you have excellent control of both the amount of force
and exactly where the force is being directed.You also have a very
good view of whats happening while its happening.

Its important to hold the punch a fraction of a mm off the surface
of the bezel as you work.That way there is very little chance of the
punch going beyond the bezel and damaging the stone.


#19

Two points I’d add to the discussion:

I’d suggest using fine silver for the bezels - 0.5mm - which would
be easier to push over (and would kink less), or to gently hammer-set
with a small polished punch to upset the top of the bezel edge or a
small cross-pein punch to make little marks on the top edge, which
might be left there. These punches are easily made from 6mm tool
steel (or from a 4" nail if you keep regrinding the working end).

What was the other point, now. Oh yes. From your description it
seemed as though you didn’t solder the bearers in place. Are they
just sitting there in the ‘pots’ as you called the bezels? That’s not
good for stability of the stone as you set it.

Brian

B r i a n A d a m a n d R u t h B a i r d
J e w e l l e r y
Auckland New Zealand
www.adam.co.nz
www.ruthbaird.com


#20

Colin,

Its important to hold the punch a fraction of a mm off the surface
of the bezel as you work. That way there is very little chance of
the punch going beyond the bezel and damaging the stone. 

Would you mind providing a full explanation for your method of using
the bezel punches? I’ve had the punches for awhile but have never
used them nor received any instructions in their use.

Thank you,
Bonnie Cooper