Setting mabe pearls

Hello metal people,

As we are on the subject of pearls, can anyone tell me a good way to
set mabe (blister) pearls. They are produced here in Vietnam on a
small island in the south part of the country and I decided to have a
holiday and buy some at the same time. Needless to say I come back
with a bag of them. A more expensive vacation than I had planned!
These are raised on the island waters then sent to Bangkok for adding
the back which I think is called doublet made of the inside of mother
of pearl shell. The problem is the back is not flat, sort of domed
and very slippery. I have been reading all the suggestions of
cardboard, glue etc but no one mentioned setting dome back mabe

Just thought some one else might have a new idea for these.

Thanks a lot in advance.

Sharron in Saigon sitting by the open window, by the river, as the
soft warm winds blow in and the palm branches rustle.

The problem is the back is not flat, sort of domed and very

sharon - i just grind off the backs so they’re flat & set them as
cabs. if the back will be open, then polish too. ive (… also sitting
by a window watching the wind whip up frothy little waves on the
river & wishing there were a few less palm trees to blow over since
hurricane season just started.)

Hi Sharron, I frequently set mabe pearls and find it made much easier
by sanding them on a wet piece of sandpaper (the wet and dry
variety). You don’t have to sand a lot, but rather just enough to
give them a flat spot on which to sit so they won’t roll around when
you are bezel setting them. Be careful not to sand through the
mother of pearl back. Hold them with your fingers making sure they
are parallel to the surface of the paper and move around in a circle.
By the way, while it is always desirable to secure with the setting
alone, this is the rare occasion that a touch of 2 part epoxy is an
added bit of insurance. The epoxy can be released by gentle warming
of the object. Just don’t cook the pearl! The wet sandpaper holds
down the dust which is NOT good to breathe! Have fun with them!
Regards, Susan Ronan in the June Gloom of otherwise sunny Coronado,

1 Like

Sharron, I’ve only done this a few times, but this is what I’ve done
and it seems to work pretty well. Make a ring slightly smaller than
the inside of the bezel, with a height that will allow the bottom
outside edge of the mabe to rest on the ring without rocking around.
Round wire has worked well for me. Then, the mabe will sit still
while you push the bezel in place. This is the same concept as
cutting a “seat” in a tube bezel (see
Tube Setting Method - Ganoksin Jewelry Making Community ), but it allows you
a lot of flexibility in adjusting the height of the “seat” for the
particular mabe so that the lowest point on the bottom of the mabe
touches the bottom of the tube for extra support.

I hope this helps. Do you have such a big bag of the that you’re
looking to get rid of a few? If so, please contact me off-list at

Good luck,

Alan Derr
Westford, MA USA