Setting bezel necklace

My employer dropped a job on me to set a half dozen empty “Diamonds
by the Yard” stlye necklaces. These are short squat “bagel” shaped
bezels, designed to hold .05 to .15 ct rbc stones, and already
attached to light chain.

I have made these in the past by setting the stones prior to
attaching chain, using solder to hold the bezels to a plate while I
set them, and removing them to do the final assembly.

I am looking for advice on holding and setting these already
attached bezels, without ripping what little hair I have left out of
my head. At this time of year I simply do not have the time to go
back to the old shellac holders we used in the past, and am
searching for some shortcuts.

Jim Newton

I am looking for advice on holding and setting these already
attached bezels, 

Those are tough. And I’ll bet they’re already shaped to a rounded
wire shape, rather than being a decent straight walled bezel.

So try this. Use an 8/0 saw to saw open the bezel on the side, away
from where the chain’s attach. Use a small hart bur to cut a groove
around the inside of the bezels. This will be your seat, of course,
but cut so the stones cannot drop in, but instead, are snapped in by
prying the cut bezel open a bit. Squeeze them shut again, and solder
or laser weld the cut closed. This should do most of the work for
you. If you got it right, they’ll be tight. If not, they’ll be
almost there, and a little burnishing with a point burnisher should
finish the job.

If you’d prefer to set them conventionally, try either orange flake
shellac, or that brown diamond setters cement stuff, to hold them.
Both are brittle (the shellac more so), but both should be able to
hold even these bezels if you work gingerly. Treat the bezels as “rub
ins”, cutting a slightly undercut seat, tip the stone in, clicking it
into place as you might do for flush setting giving you the least
amount of metal you need to move over the stone in order to tighten
it, and burnish the inside “reflector” surface of the bezel to
secure them. The main thing is you’ll have to be gentle, so as not to
pop the bezels out of the shellac, which could easily damage the
chain. This sort of method is the usual way these pre made mountings
would be set. But it can take some practice to get them right and
tight all the time, and if you’re not sure, the first way, cutting
and soldering the bezel back onto the stone, may be easier.

As to holding them, you might be able to avoid the mess of the
shellac if you happen to have a set of tubing holders, which are a
sturdy handle and a set of collet chucks to hold tubes and bezels.
You may be able to modify the appropriate sized collet, cutting away
a bit at opposing slits in the collet, so there’s clearance for the
chains while letting you grip the bezels securely enough. Little
bezels can tend to slip down into these collets, so it can help to
insert a suitably sized bit of slightly smaller tube or solid metal
into the chuck so the bezel cannot drop down too far into it.

My own favorite way to make these bezels if starting from scratch is
to start with a length of appropriately sized tube (commercial heavy
wall, or make your own), chucked into a lathe or my #30 handpiece. A
stationary setting bur held in pliers or a chuck handle cuts the seat
while the tube, not the bur, spins. Then the stone is inserted, and
the tube with stone spun again, while a burnisher presses the bezel
edge over, and you can trim the bezel edge with a graver while the
tube spins too. Takes just a couple minutes. Then a saw with the
blade inserted teeth pointing up, can be held while the tube spins
against it, cutting off the little bezel, nice and square, and to the
desired short length, even if the stone’s culet extends out the back.
Arrange a little plastic Ziploc bag over the end of the tube, with a
slit in the bag for your saw blade, so your cutting off the bezel
inside the bag. That way the little bezel won’t fly away as it cuts
free. Yes, I know this whole thing sounds odd, but try it. You can
set one of these bezels, start to finish, in a couple minutes per
bezel like this, and they come out looking super. But of course
that’s for making one from start to finish. Not so useful if you’ve
got an already assembled mounting to set


GRS sells a product that i use called thermal lock. you heat it up
with a heat gun or in the microwave then position your settings in
it. It has the consistency of chewed up gum when hot. you then let it
cool and it stiffens up.

there is another product called jet set that i think is the same
thing but i have never tried it

it holds things very well. i usually spread it onto a bit of wood
that i have drilled holes in before embedding the odd shaped things i
want to hold.

it is a plastic product so it holds tight but wont chip

to get your things out you just submerge it in hot water


Thank you to both Les and Peter.

I do often use the jet set for bezel and cluster setting jobs, but
as Peter suggests these bezels have already been trimmed really
short, and polished, so the jet set would not hold well enough to
burnish set, preventing the bezels slipping loose, and doing damage
to the fine chain attached

I often solder the empty bezels to some scrap metal, and then hold
that assembly in my vise to do the setting work, and afterward I saw
the bezels off and do the final assembly. I have also used the
tubing/watchmaker’s lathe method in the past, when I had access to a
lathe (I never thought of the baggie over the saw blade tip. I just
thought occasionally chasing the little spinning bezels around the
shop was part of the fun of this technique! LOL), but in this case
the necklaces came finished.

I also see how the wooden handled bezel holder could be altered as
Peter suggests, so I could hold the bezels w/o damaging the chain. I
think an assortment of such holders just made the wish list.

I am kicking myself for not thinking of the “split the bezel, and
laser it back together” method Peter suggests! The laser is one of
my best friends at the bench, but I simply did not see visualize
this particular application. Using this method I can do all the
setting work, repair the bezel without creating a solder seam, and
then hold the bezels in the jet set well enough to do some final
flash trimming with a graver if they need it. I had been thinking of
cutting the chain, setting the bezels in the jet set, and then laser
welding the chain back on.

My employer thought he would one up me, and he called Stuller’s shop
to see what they suggested to set these necklace that he’d got such
a deal on. The shop technician at Stuller asked him: "So they
assembled the necklace before they set the stones? Then in that
beautiful southern drawl said: “Well, that’s stuupid!” Pretty close
to what I thought when I first saw them come in, but I did not think
it politic to say so to my employer.

Great ideas, one and all. Thanks. To me this is Orchid at it’s
finest, where folks are not afraid to share ideas and techniques that
can make all of us better jewelers

Again, thanks for taking the time to help. Jim Newton

Wow Peter. As a newer jeweler this tip was amazing. (setting the
stone in the tubing on while the tube is inserted in the foredoom
and cutting it off) While I know how to do things (most of the time)
it is so cool to see something that someone has found away to
increase productivity. Something my Dad would call working smart!
While may not use this for awhile, I have archived it.

Kay Cummins

It is a great tip, but it is one that I only used a long time ago,
when I worked in a shop that had a couple of watchmaker’s lathes I
had access to. Thanks to Peter’s suggestion to use the Fordom as a
lathe I am trying that later today.

I have a work order to set up a series of amethyst and peridot in
bezels, which I can assemble afterword using the laser. I have the
perfect set up for using the hand piece as a lathe, in my GRS Bench
Mate clamp, with the plastic hand piece collet for the Fordom that I
purchased from Kate Wolf. It is a system I use often for carving wax
ring patterns but until Peter’s post I had not considered it for
turning bezels from tubing, although it has come in handy for
burnihing stones into straight wall bezel a time or two.

Love to see new ways to use/look at tools I already have at my beck
and call.

Thank you, Peter, for sharing.

Wow Peter. As a newer jeweler this tip was amazing. (setting the
stone in the tubing on while the tube is inserted in the foredoom
and cutting it off) 

Glad you liked it. I should mention that at least for me, there are
a few other details to mention. For one, I hold the flex shaft in my
left hand for this, unlike most other operations, and normally, my
flex shaft hangs from a hanger on my right. The shaft is too short to
do this with it set up like that, so I have to bring the motor down
from the hanger, and it sits just in my bench pan or on a bench
drawer next to it, so the shaft allows the handpiece to be in my
left hand, pointing slightly up, with the tube end resting in a
groove on my bench pin. The burnisher I use to close the end of the
tube is actually a flat ended square steel rod in a handle. In the
catalogs it’s sold as a prong pusher sometimes. Normally that’s it’s
use, but for this operation, it pretends to be a burnisher, though I
don’t generally polish it. Anyway, the tube end, with seat cut and
the diamond in the seat held in position by a tiny bit of red sticky
wax, is riding in that groove, with the burnisher end braced on the
front surface of that groove with it’s end at an angle to the tube
lip. Held like this, everything is quite rigidly supported, and I can
easily press the burnisher forward while rocking it’s angle over
further to close the bezel. The inner edge of the bezel gets slightly
ragged while doing this, though the outer burnished surface ends up
wonderfully uniform (so long as the seat was cut evenly and the
stone remains level. If either is not true, it will not look as
good…) So once the bezel is closed down all the way to the stone’s
crown, I follow it up with a tiny bullet point burnisher I make from
narrow carbide rod (though steel, such as an old broken bur made into
this tool) is used to burnish back that ragged inside edge, so it
turns into a nice bright “reflector”. If you cut the seat too deep,
you’ll have to trim that edge back with a graver first, but a good
sharp flat graver can do this with (you guessed it) the tube
spinning. The diamond will chew up the corner of the graver doing
this, but that’s OK. Easy to resharpen. Once the point burnisher has
cleaned up the inner edge of the tube, you can, if you wish,
millegrain that edge by holding a millgrain tool against the slowly
turning tube. Much easier than trying to follow the tight curve of a
small bezel with a millegrain tool pushed along instead of moving the
tube into the millegrain tool.

Anyway. Hope those details are of interest. Sounds complex, but it
takes a lot longer to write than it does to do. Cheers


Sorry for asking, but I don’t understand this method and love to
learn because I love tube setting, if possible could you put some
pictures on the orchid so I can see what you mean, sorry I am a
newbie and love to learn different way. Thank you.


I learned the tube setting method from our good friend here on
Orchid, Andy Cooperman. Andy came to BGSU and gave us a wonderful 4
day workshop on “Creative Captures”. I just LOVE this setting method!
I may not use it a lot, but when I do, I can whip right through
several settings very quickly.

Incidentally, I also use a TON of other things Andy taught us in
that workshop. If any of you ever get the chance to take a class or
workshop from Andy Cooperman, GRAB IT! No matter the cost, you will
always have a chance to use just everything he can teach you, which
in my book is priceless. You will have the added benefit of laughter
and good fun all through the experience.

Andy, let me say “Thank You!” again, too. I was only a beginning
metals student when you came to BG and taught us. I was doing a major
in Interior Design a just “playing” in metalsmithing and you really
lit a fire under me and inspired me. It was that inspiration which
helped me to finally choose this wonderful profession as a full time
pursuit. Becky McDonough was the metals instructor that year, and she
& Ted were/are some of my great inspirations, too. After 2 1/2 years
of double majoring between both Interior Design and Fine Art, I chose
to go full on Fine Arts. Although I will always consider myself to
still “be in school”, I finally graduated a few years later and am
now working at fulfilling my dreams to be a full time artist. I refer
back to my notes from that workshop every time I am trouble-shooting
setting something that is not a typical stone or found object. What
you taught and how you taught remains valuable to me every single day
I am in my studio. I just want you to know that you really rock as a
teacher and a guide and feel very privileged to have learned from

Okay I’m done gushing now, I just thought I would take the
opportunity to thank you again!


Yesterday I used Peter’s suggestion and used my Fordom handpiece as
a lathe to cut the seats, burnish set the amethysts and peridots, and
cut off the 13 bezels I needed. I then assembled the bezels using
the laser. I attached a couple images of the handpiece held in the
BenchMate system, using the adapter collet for the Fordom that I got
from Kate Wolf.

Using the handpice held rigid in the Bench Mate clamp allows me to
keep both hands free. The second image shows me using a second
handpiece, but I quickly discovered there was no reason to do this,
as holding the setting burs in a pin vise works much better for me,
but the image shows how I set up the Bench Mate system as a lathe in
more detail.

I also used a bezel bunisher made from an old stainless fork tine,
held in a graver handle, something I picked up in one of Blaine
Lewis’ setting videos. Metal of the fork is soft steel and can
gently burnish bezels without damaging most I found the
back of my setting tweezers made an effective burnisher to start
closing down the edge of the bezel, and then I finished closing them
with the softer setting tool.

It is also quite easy to put a polish on the spinning bezel, prior
to cutting it off, which speeds up the final clean up.

Again, thank you Peter for sharing the technique. And for your other
suggestion for dealing with the empty, already assembled bezel

Jim Newton