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Smooth clean bezel on soft stones


#1

Hi Folks,

I’ve just finished cutting a large oval turquoise cab and
bezel-setting it into a sterling silver ring. In the course of that, I
met with a recurring problem, actually a set of problems, namely,
scratching the stone when cleaning up the top of the bezel, and
getting the bezel top perfectly smooth even and uniform.

Normally, I’d use a fine file with one safe side, and go over the top
of the bezel with this, the safe side against the stone. However, even
that is not entirely safe; even the “safe” side of the file at times
leaves marks on stones like labradorite, opal, chrysocolla, malachite
etc. And apart from that, the bezel top is still not as uniform as I’d
like it to be. In short, getting that bezel top smooth and clean and
even is still a challenge to my (largely self-taught) ingenuity.

So I’m wondering what tricks and techniques orchideans might have up
their collective sleeves. I’ve tried the pink (ultra-fine) knife-edge
abrasive wheels in the the foredom but can’t seem to get the motion so
uniform that it leaves a fully even surface. What else should I be
doing or trying?

All hints & tips & suggestions gratefully and humbly accepted!

Cheers
Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada


#2

Hi Hans,

A flat graver is me tool of choice for smoothing bezel tops. Polish
the belly of the graver before sharpening it so that it leaves a
bright cut. Carefully cut the top of the bezel then polish.

Timothy A. Hansen

TAH Handcrafted Jewelry
web-site: www.home.earthlink.net/~tahhandcraft
e-mail: @Timothy_A_Hansen


#3

Hi, Hans-

I normally use 30g fine silver bezel strip, of an appropriate width
for the stone, and do the cleanup on the piece before setting the
stone. At worst, I will have one or two marks from the bezel rocker
which clean up easily with a cratex type wheel followed with Zam or
Fabulustre on a felt buff. There is much less likelihood of damaging
the stone if you use this process.

HTH

Lee Einer


#4

Hello Hans, I do things a little differently. For softer stones
(and most stones) I use 999 bezel wire instead of sterling. I also
burnish the stone with a nylon rod. You can use a toothbrush that
has been cut off and polished. The nylon does not leave scratches
if you slip over the stone. I polish the finished item with Zam,
which also polishes the softer stones like turquoise and malachite.

Steve


#5

Hans,

The best trick I've been taught also leaves a very bright edge on

the bezel. It requires great care, but you use a chisel-edge graver
to even up the top of the bezel. It is still very easy to damage
softer stones like turquoise, but with practise it works well. An
alternative is using the knife-point of a straight burnisher; I don’t
teach this to my students, because it is almost impossible to avoid
damaging the stone this way unless it is a quartz gem or harder.

Jim Small
Small Wonders


#6

Here are a couple of things you can do to improve the finish on your
bezels.

  1. Place the stone in the bezel and with a needle point scribe mark
    the inside of the bezel as low as you can the circumference of the
    stone. Now remove the stone and sand the bezel down to the line. This
    removes any excess bezel and eliminates those pesky folds and
    wrinkles.

  2. Now take the bezel and with a number 36-40 highly polished graver
    and cut a bevel on the inside edge of the bezel. About 45 degree angle
    and just the inside angle. Be sure and don’t cut so deep you cut past
    about 1/2 the thickness of the bezel. This provides a nice shiny edge
    the will make for a smoother clean up…

Now push the bezel and clean it up in the normal way… Frank Goss


#7

Hi Hans,

Are you cutting your own bezel strip from sheet? You might want to
consider using fine silver bezel wire. It’s a dream to work with
because it’s so soft, yet holds the stone firmly. It’s available in
various heights. I just burnish the bezel down over the stone and I’m
essentially done. No “finishing”, just tripoli and rouge. Another
advantage to fine silver bezel wiRe: no fire scale and a higher
melting point, since there’s no copper in it!

The only other suggestion I would have is to do whatever finishing
you can before setting the stone, minimizing the risk and potential
damage to which the stone is exposed.

Hope this helps,

Dave

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com mailto:dave@sebaste.com


#8
I met with a recurring problem, actually a set of problems, namely,
scratching the stone when cleaning up the top of the bezel, and
getting the bezel top perfectly smooth even and uniform. 

Dear Hans,

I use flexshaft tools to clean up the tops of bezels and, with
practice, I have learned to produce a smooth, even result with all but
the tiniest of stones or stones that are set very close to other
stones. In your case � an isolated, large oval turquoise cab � you
should be able to achieve the desired result.

Try different flexshaft tools. Specifically, throw out the knife
edge for this purpose; it will make grooves. Instead use a flat-edged
wheel. Also try various polishers. Pumice is known for not
scratching stone though I prefer silicone polishers which work faster
on the metal.

Finally, if you do get very small scratches or dull spots on soft
stones like turquoise, you can easily polish them off with ZAM. Some
opal will also polish up with ZAM but you’re more likely to need tin
oxide to get a high shine.

Good luck,
Beth


#9

Hello,

A simple trick is to put some sticky tape on the stone, near the
edge, to protect it. If you slip out with a file or sandpaper you
scratch your tape instead of stone.

Martin Niemeijer


#10

Dear Hans,

You may try covering the stone with tape while setting it. Next, file
the inside of the bezel where it will go over the stone and if it is
thick enough use a ball burr to make a groove to create a seam
between that which will be left upright and that which will bend
over. Last, use a highly polished burnisher so that it polishes the
bezel while pushing it over. The alternative to the burnisher is a
polished punch and a chasing hammer; that’s what I prefer.

Hope that works for you,

Pauline


#11

Dear Hans,

One thing that can give you a beautiful bezel edge is to lightly go
around it with a flat hand graver. This will “even-out"
irregularities as you slice away some of the metal, and give a great
"bright-cut” look. Might want to practice on something else first to
get the motion perfected. Those tiny nicks an scratches on turquoise
will usually come off by using a final polish with Zam and a soft
buff.

I’m sure you’ll get many more great suggestions.

Gary Strickland, GJG


#12

Good day Hans and others

I was taught to polish or should say sand the top of the bezel before
setting the stone. Turn the piece upside down and run the bezel up
and down on a sanding stick. This will even the top edge of the
bezel. I then take a burnisher and run it around the inside and out
of the bezel. As you push the bezel over you will have a square edge
and then you should be able to burnish the very edge near the stone.
Burnishing should flatten and thin the metal so it almost floats over
the stone. Hope that helps, also practice.

Barbara McLaughlin
www.taylorriverjewelrydesign.com


#13

Hans, One thing you can do is use whatever smoothing tools you need
to get that bezel nice and true. If you must, you can place some
masking take over the stone to protect it a bit…but otherwise, just
try to be careful and not mess it up too much.

When you are all through with the bezel, polish the entire top of the
piece, stone and bezel with ZAM on a stitched muslin buff. ZAM does a
tremendous job polishing turquoise, chrysocolla, malachite, and most
other of the soft stones.

Opal is a different matter. First do everything you can to 'prepare’
the bezel for the stone. Thin it, then smooth and polish it before
putting in the stone. Carefully walk the metal down and complete the
task with a burnisher. With some practice you will hardly have any
clean up at all.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!


#14
     I've just finished cutting a large oval turquoise cab and
bezel-setting it into a sterling silver ring. In the course of
that, I met with a recurring problem, actually a set of problems,
namely, scratching the stone when cleaning up the top of the bezel,
and getting the bezel top perfectly smooth even and uniform. 

Try cutting narrow strips of masking tape (4 or 5mm wide). Carefully
press the tape right up to your bezel and protect your stone by
pressing the tape down. It doesn’t matter if there are little crimps
in the tape over the stone so long as the contact to the bezel is
perfect. You can then cut a piece of tape to cover the center portion
of the stone.

The tape provides a little protection against inadvertant scuffs. I
use extra fine plastic-backed sanding discs that I buy through my
dentist to get rid of tiny flaws. My dentist lets me look through his
catalogs and orders my stuff when he puts his regular orders through.
Apparently, the dental suppliers will only sell to licensed dentists.

I then use felt plastic-backed snap-on discs from Gesswein (purple
felt) with various compounds to prepolish the bezel. Then I use a
very sharp SHOFU brownie silicone (Frei and Borel carries these dental
trade mounted silicone abrasives)wheel and touch up the edge. Finally,
I use soft MK brushes with rouge to polish. If at any time the tape
is getting a bit thin, I retape. The whole gist is to protect against
very minor, fleeting contact with the stone. I feel that files, even
with a safety edge, are dangerous. I use these tactics with black
coral, opal, mabes, lapis and other fragile, easily scratched stones.

Hope this helps, Donna Shimazu

P.S. Hanuman, I hope you get the contribution I mailed on Monday. I
mistakenly spelled the road Sutisam instead of Sutisarn. Please let
me know if you get it within the next week or so. If not, I’ll put a
stop and mail another check. Thanks for all you do for us.


#15
    1. Place the stone in the bezel and with a needle point scribe
mark the inside of the bezel as low as you can the circumference of
the stone. Now remove the stone and sand the bezel down to the line.
This removes any excess bezel and eliminates those pesky folds and
wrinkles. 

I use a fine point sharpie marker to do this - so no possibility of
damage to the stone. If it gets on the stone - it is easily removed
with acetone on a Q-Tip.

jody


#16
    So I'm wondering what tricks and techniques orchideans might
have up their collective sleeves. I've tried the pink (ultra-fine)
knife-edge abrasive wheels in the the foredom but can't seem to get
the motion so uniform that it leaves a fully even surface. What else
should I be doing or trying? 

What kind of pink wheel? I’ve found there’s a big difference- the
pink Swifty wheels I get from Contenti Co. (Rhode Island) are the
best- try using a flat wheel- not only will it smooth and polish your
bezel, it’ll polish the stone as well.- Stephanie