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Stone setting woes

Hi Folks, Thanks so much to everyone who responded to my
fusing/reticulation question. I now have another. I am doing my first
stonesettings (irregular shaped cabs and faceted) using step bezels
and am running into a few glitches. Here what’s happening.

The first problem/challenge is fitting the bezel to the stone. I
want them to be perfect with no gaps but I am making them so tight
that I am fracturing/breaking stones snapping them in. How tight do
they have to be? I just fractured a little 5mm holly blue agate that
broke my heart in the process. Call me obsessive-compulsive but I
can’t abide the sloppy look when bezels don’t fit right. But I also
can’t continue to break stones. Any advice out there? Maybe I should
just find a good therapist! (LOL) :slight_smile:

The second problem I am having is that the inner wall of the step
bezel often tips to the side during soldering so that when the stone
goes in it doesn’t sit level. I make sure the inner walls are fitted
tight so I can’t figure out why they do this. Wondering if I am using
too much heat? Any suggestions here would be appreciated.

Best Regards, Bruce Raper

Hi Bruce,

A couple of things spring to mind in response to your questions.

  1. Bezel fitting. Shouldn’t be too tight. It’s the tapping over
    and then subsequent burnishing of the bezel that will give you that
    smooth look, not how tight the bezel is. Rule of thumb is that once
    the bezel wall is soldered together, if you have it sitting on a flat
    surface, the stone should “slip” in with absolutely no pressure or
    pushing on your part. The space around the stone should be visible,
    small, but even all the way around – that’s the key for it not
    looking sloppy. If it’s too tight, try the suggestions published
    here recently – rolling with a round dapping punch to stretch it
    very slightly on each side (roll the same number of times and with
    the same pressure on each side so that it stays in proportion).

Also, if you have square corners or sharp angles on your irregular
shape, you will need to allow a slight bit more space so that the
bezel has room to “turn” the corner. One thing that will help here
is to use your sawblade and create a very small cut at the corner
that goes no further down than the point where your bezel stops
turning over the stone. This creates a small mitre joint, so the
metal won’t crimp at the corner. In essence, one side of the bezel
metal will lay over the other side at the area of overlap, but once
burnished, you won’t see it.

  1. Avoid step bezel wire. (My personal opinion follows - I am sure
    there will be those who disagree.) Step bezel wire will frequently
    distort and is generally a pain in the butt to work with. A better
    solution that avoid the problem you’re describing is to use an
    underbezel constructed of a small-gauge square wire. You can solder
    in the underbezel if you want to, turning it into the floor in an
    open-backed setting, or you can simply drop it in under the stone in
    a close-backed setting (rolling the bezel locks in both the stone and
    the underbezel). In either case, the underbezel should be shaped as
    closely as possible to the inside contour of the bezel wall, fitting
    snugly under the stone on all sides.

That’s my $.02 for the night. I hope it helps.

Karen Goeller