Can any one out there tell me of any special considerations when
setting Amber in a Sterling bezel? I know its soft and intolerant
of heat, but what about the pressure when rolling over the bezel?
John - You are correct that setting amber is a bit different from
other material. Amber with included insects is especially brittle
since it has not been annealed. Annealing would have covered the
insect with the typical tiny discs.
I’d suggest using an open-back setting. Make a bezel with 26 to 28
gauge fine silver or 22K as usual and solder to 22 or 24 gauge
backing. I tend to make amber settings just a very, very tiny bit
looser than most cabs. I don’t want a really tight fit, just tight
enough. Often amber will require an inner seat to accommodate a
rounded edge. Quite often, the seat isn’t even because the stone is
very irregular. It just takes more time to get it right. I usually
make the bezel taller than usual so that I can file it to the correct
height. I place the amber inside the bezel (and it’s a lot easier
with an open back) and then scribe inside the bezel to mark the
varying height of the stone. Use a small scissors - like the Joyce
Chen ones - and trim down to your scribe mark, then file and sand to
the center of the mark. Get the entire piece completely finished
prior to setting the amber.
Then set as usual doing the 9 oclock, 3, 12 and 6 oclock points to
start bringing in the bezel. I use a roller bezel pusher rather than
a pointy one. Finish bringing in all the intermediate places to where
it all holds the stone without movement. Bring the bezel down on the
amber tightly by very carefully placing your roller pusher at a 45
degree angle to finally snug the bezel to the amber. If you are very
steady, burnish the edge of the bezel with a flat graver. If you have
slipped in the setting, clean up the marks with a rubber wheel and
very carefully bring up a finish shine by hand.
If your design doesn’t permit an open back for the stone, you need
to leave enough space for dental floss to get your amber out after
marking the height of the bezel.
Finish the piece by rubbing the amber on your clean jeans to remove
the tiny scratches that happen while setting.