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What technique do Indians use to make deep straight grooves radiating from bezel

Hello Everyone,

I have seen many attractive SW Indian pieces where there are deep evenly spaced grooves radiating out from the bezelled center stone to the edge of the piece. The grooves then are darkened with liver of sulfer with the top silver brightly polished. The grooves add a lot to the piece and focus one’s attention on the stone. The grooves are deep and uniform, much deeper than normal indian hand stamps.

Does anyone know the technique used to create these grooves? Are they chiselled, engraved with a heavy engraver, or is the piece caste with the groves. I have tried cold stamping, but it’s difficult to get nice grooves spaced evenly with uniform depth.

Any comments would be appreciated.

Best Wishes,


There is a fellow named Jim Brandvik who has made a device to make castellated bezels. It’s easy to use, not terribly expensive, and produces beautiful results.

Google him. Lots of information available.

(I don’t know how to send a link).

Denny Diamond

Its done with a liner stamp. The stamp is ground like a chisel, but instead of a cutting edge there is a very narrow face. That may be followed up with a beveling stamp which will reduce the sharp edge on one side of the line so that it looks like the beveled side is slid under the unbeveled side

Here’s a link to Jim’s YouTube video…

He had an Etsy shop where he sells the tools he makes.


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it is done with stamps - and a heck of a lot of practice.

I have done it with a thin separating disc spacing by eye. I like the tool in Jim’s video…Rob

Thanks everyone for the help. I like Ganoskin and especially appreciate the time you all took to respond.


When I read the responses above, I felt maybe I was not clear enough about the straight grooves I want to learn how to make radiating from the bezel. Here is a picture of a typical Navajo belt buckle with straight and regular grooves radiating. Is this typically done with a cold chisel stamp? If so, how do they get the grooves so evenly spaced and all exactly the same depth. Amazing.

When I have tried stamping with a straight chisel, I always get the angle and often the depth wrong; i.e. ruining the piece. Very frustrating. Any and all suggestions are appreciated.

This picture is for illustrative purposes. I have a completely different idea I want to use the grooving on.


Do you have a photo of the back? The back of a chased or repoussé piece will often have indications of the specific techniques or tools used.

Elliot, unfortunately I do not have a photo of the back. The pieces that I have held all have flat backs and are normally very, very heavy guage silver sheet, probably a 12 guage thickness. There is no indication of the piece being chased or repousse’d.

Here’s another photo typical of what I’m referring to. Again, this is just for illustrative purposes. Notice how uniform and even the lines are.

In the absence of seeing it in the hand, its most unlikely to be hand made or indian. This level of accuracy in the detail, not just in the radial lines but elsewhere indicates another method of making.
Theres a very small chance its been cast, but its really too precice to be anything else but die struck. even if its 100 yrs old that takes us back to only 1918, when 3D die striking was very well developed.
To the point of 3D die sinking and reducing from a 4 to 6 times larger master patterns using machines that were in wide use here in the UK and on the E coast of the USA.
I currently can die strike up to 4in wide by 6 in long ovals to this level of detail and much more using my machines dating from 1880.,. As far as im aware im also the only die striker here on this forum. Dont post regularly any more for sad reasons. Also not being interested in using stones so just about all bench jewellers posts are irellevant to me.
As Elliot has written, a picture of the back may give more info how and maybe by whom it was made.
I know die striking when I see it,
as many of you may recall, its what I do.

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Be happy that you have a watchmaker on this forum. Obviously you are looking for a dividing head. A machinist will tell you anyone who wants to divide a circle into a number of angles radiating evenly from a center uses them. They are used in a wide variety of jobs, for example, making gears or doing guilloche (“engine turning”) which is decorative engraving done by machine. Usually they are mounted either on a lathe or a milling machine. The belt buckle that you have posted a photo of could be reduplicated by the hundreds ( the metal part–not the stone setting) in an average work day. Look under Sherline lathes for the dividing head they manufacture and sell. If you look on Youtube, you’ll find a number of very clever methods of circle dividing that don’t use a dividing head as not every machinist (or watch maker) has one. I made one out of wood and mounted it on my tiny drill press for one project where I had to drill a number of holes around a circle. Thanks to some of the Youtube videos, you can jury rig one of pretty high accuracy without spending either too much time or money.

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I believe this piece was pressed into a die, similar to the Navajo method for making concha. The concha dies consist of both a male die and a female punch. The book, Indian Jewelry Making by Oscar T. Branson, shows the process step-by-step. You can find most of the pages on Pinterest. Hope that helps.


Ted: You are incorrect in your assessment on how these buckles are made. Both of the buckles in this thread are the work of Charlie John, Navajo (Dine’). All hand fabricated with stamp work and overlay.

It takes years of practice to get this good. Whats not shown is the file work that’s associated with getting the grooves uniform. A cold chisel is used to start the line, and a file is used to clean them up (in most cases).

Here are a couple of photos…one is Charlie’s work, close up, you can see the imperfections with the stamp work and piercing illustrating the overlay, I do not believe he cleans up the stamp work with a file.

The other is work done by Isaac Dial (Navajo/Lumbee), you can see the intricate layout, and precision formation of his lines. In this case he files them clean.



Hi Pat,
Ill take your word for it, that its entirely made with hand tools.
After all, to achieve this level of precision, one can take as long as one would like. Can you respond with,

  1. the time actually taken? not including the stone setting? and soldering on bezel, and belt fittings on the rear?
    However, It I would have thought, that it still has to be profitabe ,
    2, so what is the average sale price if I wanted to buy one? can you quote me?
    Im in business to pay my way like most of us here ,and to earn a living, so if I was going to make this, id comission a die, doesnt need 2 as its single sided, blank out the oval and strike as detailed before.
  2. amortise the die cost over 100 made @ £8.00 per buckle…
    Die life 5000 strikes till sharpness is 25% less.
    This die cost includes the original pattern making 3/4 times the finished size and is modelled in a wax positive…
    My buckles that are 3 by 2in ovals are in 2 main parts,
  3. the back which incorporates the tang and the wire loop and metal to leather fitting, no doubling over of the leather, thats a standard shape and size for that product range, thats in 75/25 cu/zn. also make square and round shapes.
  4. the struck front in all the non ferrous metals I use bronze, nickel silver, brass and copper, including sterling.
    Then I rivet them together, the whole making process does not involve any heat or soldering.
    Make hundreds of them. Average time inc all finishing around 40 mins each…
    So I do a production run of say, 50 std backs in one go. The fronts likewise struck in batches of 50. Tho sterling in lots of 10.
    I use tooling for all the back making details, some held with my 3rd hand and others using punch and die fly press tooling all made here in house.
    One cannot change the silver price, leather price or the overheads or all other standard workshop costs, so the only really variable cost is my time to make. By being fast, the price becomes very attractive to the buyer and I can pay my way.
    90 % of my tools and equipment is circa 1900.
    Some products have to use/need modern kit like tig welding via argon arc. thats for 2 product ranges, titanium ans s/steel.

Look forward to your reply.


This is not an argument on fabrication techniques, not cost, nor efficiency, nor price. I corrected your assessment on how these are made, to answer Bob’s original question on how its done, that is all.

I cannot speak to either Charlie’s or Isaac’s work, I can only speak to mine, which is vastly different, and like you, I use an entirely different set of tools and techniques than most jewelers.


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HI Ted and Pat and all,
IDK if you both know this, but jewelry by actual Navajo jewelers has achieved a cult status and is priced as a one off collectible. If you look on ebay you will see that some of the contemporary Navajo silversmiths sell there and you can see that the prices are far greater for their silver jewelry than for run of the mill stuff. It is often very nice and artistic stuff, but being a Navajo is what gives it cachet and great value. I love their jewelry and design, but I’m looking for ways to use those techniques with other designs to differentiate my work from Southwest Style, which is tricky because some of the stamping they use is very simple, and once you get a handle on the style, when you think about a piece, you tend to “channel” the Native Americans.


Hello Everyone,

I’m really enjoying reading everyone’s responses and learning a lot. Thank you all for taking the time to reply.


There is a new tool called BezelEase which makes castellated/serrated cuts faster, easier and more precise than any other method or tool on the market today.