1. what do I need to do to make bezel easier to push and 2. what
tricks are there to holding onto such small pieces without damaging
the tube, findings, or other parts of the piece.
Goldsmithing is not a magic, and there are no tricks. All the
problems that you describing should have been dealt in design stage.
One must not start the work until each and every step of the process
is thought through.
You have problem with the design itself, which I are trying to solve
via technical means. That rarely works. I could advise you to use
shellack to hold pieces for setting, but if you do not use it
correctly, shellack can become brittle and situation can become
The project looks simple, but it isn’t. Closed bezels have certain
nuances which must be understood. By closing bezel when closing
bezel, the geometry is changed. The inside circumference is actually
smaller, which calls for metal to be compressed. That requires
significant force and reduction in diameter is small. Your problems
is that the seat is larger than stone diameter by the value which
exceeds you ability to compress the metal. The smaller the stone, the
more precision is required in seat preparation.
Now, when the problem is understood, we can devise a solution. Use a
knife gravers, which must be sharpen to cut with it’s side ( flat
graver would not work here ) and open your tubing by forming a
slightly tapered inverted cone. Simply insert graver inside tubing
and shave side by holding graver steady and rotating the tubing. Use
a pin wise to hold the tubing. You are done when stone seats inside
the cone, with girdle level with the cone edge. Take a bur of smaller
diameter than the stone and cut a seat. You should be able to snap
the stone in. Do not force it. if the seat is too small, use the same
knife graver to enlarge it. When stone is fitted, now you can use you
bezel rocker. All you need to do is to bring inside walls to vertical
position. The change in geometry with set the stone. The last step
should be removing excess of metal. You can use flat graver for that.
This technique does not require excessive force and you can hold
your pieces on shellack stick. Still do not overheat your shellack,
and do not quench it in water, or it will become brittle.