I try with sterling for bezels before and I found it hard to set
thigh to the stone, is there a good method when setting with
coupled with seeing the results of setting stones with thin fine
silver vs sterling, I can only conclude that using sterling should
be no more trouble than fine silver - if using suitable tools.
Imagine a goldsmith setting diamonds and other precious stones into
high karat golds and platinum. They don’t makeor use settings using
virtually paper thin metal, or necessarily set with one hand and a
rocking tool. They set the jewellery into shellac or thermoplastic
and then mount that in a suitable holding device, which frees up
both hands. Many times a hammer hand piece of a flexshaft will be
used - or a hammer and setting punch, which is what I use.
The biggest difference, however, is in the use of thicker metal.
Yes, if youcontinue the one handed setting approach, then thicker
metal is going to make life even more difficult, but if you give the
both hands free method a try, you’ll find that thicker bezels are
far more forgiving. Still, the aperture for the stone must be a
really good fit, with neither gapping nor areas that are too tight.
The height of the bezel above the stone’s girdle (or equivalent in a
cabochon) must not be excessive, as a) it’s not necessary - you only
need a very small amount of metal to hold the stone securely, b) it
produces a very ugly end result, and c) can lead to the bezel not
fitting tight to the stone, ie unsightly gapping.
The amount of force necessary when hitting the setting punch (brass
square section rod mounted in a handle, of which I have very
slightly domed the end)with the hammer is very small. I work in
small increments, only pushing thebezel in by very small amounts
each time, and always working on opposite “sides” of the stone.
Imagine a clock face. Move the bezel in toward the stoneat 12
o’clock, 6, 9, 3. Then I work between those places, so midway
between1-2, 7-8, 10-11 and 4-5. Inspect it with a loupe and then go
at it again ifthe bezel needs moving more. I usually find at this
stage that I need to work in a more downwards (with some inwards)
direction as opposed to the inwards (with a bit of downwards)
direction of the first movement of metal. If you’ve used thicker
metal than you’re used to, you’ll find that ability of themetal to
compress, is actually your friend. Move thin metal inwards around
the “clock”, and you may well find (especially if also too tall)
that when you’re trying to push the metal inwards, it will move out
in adjacent areas, and that no amount of work will ever make it
tight against the stone. Move thicker metal inwards around the
"clock" and you will find that it compresses and moves inwards, and
won’t spring out again, as the thicker metal won’t allow it to.
There are numerous advantages to using thicker metal, but my
favourite is the fact that it just looks better. It just looks more
expensive andluxurious if your bezels are made with thicker metal,
and so would potentially be able to sell for more money too. When
the metal is down onto the stone sufficiently, I like to go round
with my setting punch in a burnishing action, so sideways along the
bezel top (outside edge). This helps to smooth out any tool marks
which I may have inadvertently made. A file and then polishwill
remove any which are more stubborn.
One thing I almost forgot to mention is that to make the most of my
thicker metal settings, I make sure that before setting, the bezel
top is sanded absolutely flat, using a very, very fine sandpaper.
This creates a definite, visible surface (unlike the razor-like edge
of thinner metal) to the top of thebezel, which after setting, takes
on a more angled appearance, similar to a45 degree angle which
really frames the stone beautifully and can then be
polished/burnished to a mirror-like shine. Hopefully the link below
will showa ring I made my daughter last year. I made the bezel from
1mm thick sterling silver. You can see the surface that was once the
top, flat surface of the bezel.