Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Using arrow heads in jewellery

Hello, I have recently been asked if I would make a silver belt
buckle with a large obsidian arrow head mounted on it. The client
wants the stone bezel set rather than claw set. My concern is that it
could easily break because of its uneven surface.

Is a bezel set do-able and could a cushioned back be made for the
arrow head, like out of some type of rubber compound? Any advice
would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Jeannette

i’ve set arrow heads before. they can be fairly difficult. two ways
that work for me. using fine silver or 18 k gold make the bezel
fairly thin. solder and shape the bezel so it is splayed out from
base and opens too wide around the stone the bezel would have a v
shape in a cutaway. then working your way around stone fold small
sections of the bezel over the top to trap the arrowhead. . it’s
very important to trap the cut in areas first on this part-then the
point then the edges. work slow.continue denting until most of the
bezel is pushed over. using a hand burnisher smooth the bezel flush
with the stone. if you’re really anal you can make the bezel take
the shape of the flacked edge front and back but that takes a while.
when you’re done the bezel should come up from under the stone and
fold over it <- in a cutaway the straight line would be
your backer - the dashes your stone - and the v’s your bezel. it
doesn’t actually have to touch the backer plate when you use this
method but if it doesn’t it’s important to trap the stone on the
backside too. 2nd way you could shape and curve the backer to
follow the arrow head and use a shallow , thin bezel and fold it
over the edge.this way requires alot of back cutting of the backer
plate to ensure a tight fit. arrow heads are pretty durable as long
as you don’t use to much pressure or powered tools. remember they
were used to kill things so they are usually pretty strong . the
exception to this would be any extremely long narrow tips or the
finer birding points. hope this helps . dave

Jeannette, I’d be very concerned about a large irregular obsidian
arrow head. You might consider setting with claws from the back, from
the front it can still look like a bezel. Irregardless of the setting
style you really want to have a very good fitting bearing for
support, not only for the setting process but for continuing
durability. Belt buckles can be subject to some pretty hard knocks.

Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modeling & Goldsmithing

    Hello, I have recently been asked if I would make a silver
belt . . . . Is a bezel set do-able and could a cushioned back be
made for the arrow head, like out of some type of rubber compound?
Thanks, Jeannette 

Hello Jeannette; My advise would be to not back the arrow head with a
soft material, but rather, mix up some quick setting epoxy on a piece
of wax paper and set the head into it. One of the putty type epoxies
that you knead to mix would best allow you to position the head
level. When it sets, saw pierce out the entire profile (watch out
not to touch the arrow head with the saw blade) and you’ll have a
flat bottom as well as the support of the epoxy (this idea was shown
me by one of our Orchid posters, Micky Roof). And if it’s possible,
why not use a fine silver bezel, as this will be measurably softer
than sterling. Instinct tells us that you’d use thin material, but
I’d suggest something else. Use a heavier gauge, at least 24 gauge.
Leave a 1/2 millimeter space around the head. Place the head in the
bezel, then use a sharpie marker to trace the contour of the head on
the inside of the bezel, about 1.5-2 millimeters above the edges of
the head. Cut down the bezel along this contour. Remove the arrow
head. Then, using a bearing bur, 45 or 90 degree, cut along the
inside of the bezel, at the height of the edge of the arrow head, all
around the bezel, about halfway through the thickness. This will
create a point at which the bezel will fold inward. Now use a sanding
disk in your flex shaft to taper outside top of the bezel inward at a
gradual taper thinning to less than half the original thickness (all
the way around). Now I’m going to offend the purist by suggesting
you glue the arrow head into the bezel, with enough epoxy to fill up
to the edge of the arrow head. Use a q-tip to wipe away all excess
that is above the hinge cut in the bezel and any on the arrow head.
When the epoxy sets, use a bezel pusher or hammer and chasing tool to
begin folding the bezel inward, but not snug down upon the arrow
head. Start working it down at the point, on the outside, which is
just above that hinge cut. Your last effort will be to roll the
tapered edge inward and down upon the arrow head. A chop-stick or
orange stick will do this without scratching the stone, but if that
doesn’t provide sufficient force, you can chase with the hammer and
tool, just make sure you don’t let the tool contact the arrow head.
What you will finally have is a bezel that appears quite thick, but
is really a rolled rim. It’s function is to protect the stone, but
it is not the primary agency of holding the stone in place, even
though it appears that way. If you can get the edge to actually roll
under before it contacts the stone (arrow head, whatever), if it
loosens at any time, you can hammer on the top of this roll with a
chasing tool and bring it down on the stone. Done right, this will
amaze your jeweler friends who will ask, “how did you manage to pound
that chunky metal down on that piece of glass without breaking it?”

David L. Huffman

If the project were mine i would set the obsidian in an annealed fine
silver or 24 kt bezel ( re -anneal as you form the bezel to keep it
very soft) I would then design protection in Sterling or 14 kt
that will shield the obsidian and the soft bezel while not pressing
against it. simple, safe and gives your patron what they asked for.


  1. Roll out a thin piece of modeling clay, push the arrowhead
    gently, (level) into the clay until the lowest point almost touches
    the table surface. Level the arrowhead.

2.Trim away the excess clay around the edges so the arrowhead sits
level on a thin, arrowhead shaped pad.

  1. Fit the bezel around the level arrowhead.

  2. Solder the bezel as per the usual…you did remove it from the
    arrowhead first…right?

  3. Recheck fitting around arrowhead after soldering bezel.

  4. Solder the bezel to the belt buckle and finish.

  5. Clean the clay from the arrowhead.

  6. Now do it the old fashioned Native American way…fill in the
    bezel with fine sawdust. Fit in the arowhead level, removing excess
    sawdust as needed, compacting as you go, and set as usual. Careful
    around those edges.

Can’t tell you how many old pieces I have fixed that used sawdust as
a backing. It cushioned the delicate unstablized turquoise, made
smaller stones look thicker to match other stones around it, filled
in under uneven stones, etc…every time I open up a bezel and find
that, I crack up. Pretty ingenious. oh…in case you were wondering,
ninety percent of the time, I was opening up the bezel because
someone squeezed in their bracelet one too many times and cracked
the siver, or broke the shank of the ring for some reason. Almost
never because of a stone problem. Good luck…

Lisa, (Off to Philly and ACC, just when the weather is getting nice
around here…figures…sigh) Topanga, CA USA

Regarding this thread: I also believe that the arrowhead would
benefit from a backing that would support it during setting as well
as keeping it snuggly in place while being worn over the years.

Rather than epoxy or a base made of rubber why not use our old
friend JettSett? You can’t find many materials that are so stable
and can be manipulated while warm. It also has the advantage that it
will conform to the contours of the arrowhead but will not stick to
it. JettSett only sticks to itself.

Orchid Rules!..Karla in sunny So. California

I would suggest for the person to have the arrowhead rubber mold
taken from it and then have the wax cast in Sterling or gold or
solica bronze. I have made rubber molds from acual arrowheads that
came from Texan and Oregon and they all come out beautiful and have
every detail as the stone head.

Yours Billy S. Bates