I have purchased a number of black opals from a reputable dealer.
All are all nicely cut to accommodate setting them and minimizing
the risk of breakage. The underside of the opals are just slightly
rounded with some potch still attached.
I have read all that I can find in the Orchid archives regarding
setting opals and was left feeling uncertain about how to set them
properly. I hand fabricate my jewelry and thought that with enough
care and forethought I could successfully set the opals in a form
fitting bezel without the use of any additional aids.
After reading the archives I have become more acutely aware of the
need to provide a cushion of some sort within the bezel to protect
However, I question some of what I’ve read written in the archives,
i. e., to use epoxy and then put oil over it so that the epoxy
doesn’t stick to the opal. Really? I do know that oil is not good
for gemstone quality opals.
From the archives I’ve identified 3 different materials that have
been suggested as a ‘cushion’ for setting an opal in a bezel: epoxy
glue, silicone caulk, and Jett Sett. My first concern is if this
setting needs to be repaired or replaced at some future date, will
the opal separate/release without damage from any of the above
And, regarding silicone, there are many different formulations in
the market place. Surely, some are better than others, and some may
have additives/chemicals that are risky to the health and well-being
of a delicate opal.
Jim Binnion, can you offer some insight?
I would appreciate hearing from those of you who have real
experience in setting gem quality opals and what steps you take to
protect them in a bezel setting.