Saturday, February 15, 2014

Secrets to Bezel-setting Stones With Points

We all love to use oddly shaped stones in our pieces! They make our work unique. But they come with some challenges for setting them, especially around the points. Knowing a few good solutions can make all the difference.

Stones With Points
How do you get that bezel to fold down and not leave an unsightly gap?

There are actually three ways to handle this problem. Depending on how sharp the point is and what tools you have available.

Rounded Point 

1.   Start at the point first. Using a bezel pusher, push the bezel down over the point first and then move to each side, smoothing it away from the point. This keeps the metal from folding up into a pucker at the tip.
2.   If you find that it is hard to push, try filing the bezel wire thinner in that area. Be sure to stay off the stone! Cover the stone with masking tape or hold your finger over the stone so it can't be filed.
3.  After folding the bezel over the stone, finish smoothing it by using fine sandpaper or a rubber polishing wheel on a rotary tool.

Sharper Point

1. Starting at the point, file the bezel thinner as described above and then fold the bezel over the point. Continue around the stone   working away from the point.

2.  If you still can't get that pesky bezel to fold over the point, use a reciprocating hammer tool (info below) to shape the bezel.

If you have a flex shaft, remove the universal hand piece and attach the reciprocating hammer piece. With the tip of the hammer just barely above your finger tip, lightly hammer the bezel flat.

Make sure not to hit the stone or it may chip! 

The reciprocating hammer has a flat tip that moves in and out of the hand piece like a tiny jack hammer. This movement can be adjusted on the hand piece. The tool easily moves the metal over the stone and flattens it out. One of these tools costs a little over $100 and is worth every penny.

3.  After folding the bezel over the stone, finish smoothing it by using fine sandpaper or a rubber polishing wheel on a rotary tool.  

Very Sharp Point 
In this case, the tip is a 25 degree angle. Thus, the corner must be folded over.

Corner with gap open (left) and hammered closed (right.)
1.  Using a jeweler's saw, cut the bezel at the tip of the stone.
2.   File the edge on each side of the cut a little thinner.
3.  Fold the bezel over itself at the corner. If you're lucky, the bezel folds over without leaving a gap.
4. If needed, use a reciprocating hammer to push the gape closed. Be careful so you don't chip the stone!

by Janet Alexander
Technical Adviser


Libellula Jewelry said...

I like to miter the corners using a triangular needle file so that they come together into a neat seam.

Cindy ~ said...

Thank you Janet! I love it when I see cabs set like you have shown vs cut. I have seen one piece that I thought "worked" with the cut (a friend set meteorite piece and it just "fit" the design. I love when people are able to take the time and make it look as great as you have in these examples. I also appreciate the instructions on what to do if you "have" to cut it... 25* angles is a great example. LOVE reading your blog and watching your videos!! :o)

KENJI said...

Thanks Janet for sharing this information with us. Just happens that I'm working with a stone with sharp corners and these stones have always been a great challenge for me. Now to put your techniques to work. Thanks again.

Janet Alexander said...

Thank you Cindy and Kenji! Libellula, thank you for contributing too! Its great when everyone offers suggestions!