Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/gold bezels
QUESTION: Hi Thomas,
I'm so happy to have come across this site. I have been making jewellery since 2006, starting during a trip in India, followed by two years of study in mexico and then finally home to Canada where I finished with some local classes. I'm telling you this so that you'll have picture of the 'in-formal' training route I've taken and why there are perhaps some gaps in my knowledge of how to do things.
I have been wanting to move forward in my setting of stones and begin setting some raw/rough diamonds. I am very drawn to the organic feel/shape of the bezels. My question is this, how are these bezels made, what material are you starting out with; sheet, wire, tube? And does the gold need to be a specific karat to achieve this look?
Thank you in advance for any feedback you can provide.
ANSWER: Dear Kat,
Time is late here and I am about to hit the bed. I will pen your full answer tomorrow. You ask about achieving a particular look. Can you let me know more what that look is? I can think of several different looks of raw gemstones in bezels. Is more of an ancient or primitive look what you want? If not, if possible, follow-up with a net link or description as seen in your thoughts.
If you are not able to get back by the time I am back at the keypad, I will answer as best can. Realize, the look of what your hands make may evolve into something different and perhaps even better. That is part of the joy of the work.
God Bless. Peace. Thomas off to slep.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you so much for the quick response, here are a few images of the style I like, one is Todd Reed,I am not sure who the artist is of the other ring.
You are right in saying it is an ancient, primitive look that appeals to me.
Again, thank you for your insight.
Prong Pusher tool
Royal Yellow Gold, 18k preferred
Hi, Kat. Thanks for the images. We were thinking in the same direction. Although assembly may use more modern methods, such as gold solders instead of direct fusing of the metal, the ancient look is duplicated with relative ease using simple tools.
For color and malleability in forming the bezel to the raw gemstone, 22k gold is preferred. However, a richly colored and easily worked 18k gold will do well. In fact, 18k is used in one of the rings you showed.
The bezel is a base of flat stock with a rim to solder to it to hold the diamond. To fit the bezel base more closely to the ring band, the band may be cut away to allow a portion of the bezel to sit lower while retaining enough metal for a sturdy band at the edges of the bezel.
This is the approach I would use to form the bezel to the circumference of the rough gemstone:
• Cut a plate of flat gold sheet perhaps 2mm or so larger than the stone all around with desired top surface facing up. 22ga will do find.
• Use a paper strip or other simple tool to get a rough measure around the gemstone. Cut a strip of gold slightly longer than the measurement and about 2mm higher than the stone when held on the plate at edge of stone.
• Anneal the gold strip so the metal is as soft as it can be.
• Using round nose pliers, fingers, etc., form the strip roughly to fit the stone circumference
• Holding the stone firmly on a flat surface, use the end of a prong pusher or metal rod to force the metal to the shape of the stone. Keep the end of the rod perpendicular to the plate. You want the bezel to come close to the shape of the stone but you DO NOT want the metal to bend over the stone edge at this stage. If the metal ends overlap, this shows you where to cut the metal. When cut, push the metal as neatly to the stone as possible(keeping sides vertical and not bent over the stone) then remove the stone and solder bezel ends together.
• Place the shaped bezel on the plate, drop in stone to check fit, remove stone and place solder snippets on plate around inside and just touching bezel. With all fluxed, move flame gentle around the bezel and play the flame over the plate, trying to heat all uniformly. As solder begins to look wet and ready to flow, run the flame around the contact of plate and bezel to pull molten solder under the bezel all around.
• Quench and check joint to see if solder flowed cleanly. If so, you may now trim off excess plate on edges or leave as decoration as you wish.
• Place the stone in the bezel and note where the bottom is uneven. You will need to place gold wire or scrap pieces on the plate to support the stone so it does not rock. Solder in place if needed. If you have a small piece of gold wire, try a loop of it just inside bezel to support the stone. You want the stone supported so pressure will be even on it and it will not rock when the bezel is tightened to the stone.
• Solder bezel assembly to the ring shank. Prior to soldering to shank, the plate may be cut out slightly to leave an open back if desired.
Whew!!! Take a break.
SETTING THE STONE
You want the metal bent over the stone edge neatly and it will look best if some “thickness” is apparent visually to the inside edge. This look is improved if the bezel top edge is filed slightly at an angle toward the stone when bent over the stone edge but not yet down and touching.
• Place the ring in a solid holder or ring clamp, drop in the stone, use the prong pusher to "rock” the bezel in toward the stone. Do this in four places to make the stone firm in place. It needs to be firm because the rest of the setting uses a hammer with the prong pusher and if not firmly held, the stone will move out of position. When secure, go around the entire stone if you can. Move the bezel in at an angle so the next step of hammering will work well.
• You may use the prong pusher will handle or remove the metal rod and use it without handle. I prefer to hold the rod without handle for better control and vision of what is happening. You want to hold the metal rod between thumb and first finger, end of rod slightly up between fingers. This way, you place your hand on the ring and the rod does not quite touch the metal. As you tap the end of the metal rod, it will go down to strike the metal then back up between your fingers. There is a “spring like” action to the steel rod and you can move around the bezel as you tap the rod while maintaining good control.
• See the bezel moving in to the stone? When it is almost to the stone, use the rod or a “bezel burnisher” to forcefully rub the metal down onto the gem. The reason for burnishing and not hammering at this stage is to avoid hammer strikes which could damage the surface of the gemstone. If the bezel surface shows enough tool marks to look like you want, good! You are essentially done! If tool marks are not apparent enough to give an ancient, primitive look, roughen the rod or file the face straight across flat and use the corners to gently tap and instill a “worked tool mark” appearance.
• To clean up and emphasize the inside edge of the bezel, use an abrasive wheel like a rubber pumice wheel in a rotary tool, holding the wheel against the edge of an old file or a steel item with an edge to give the wheel a sharp taper to its edge. The edge of the wheel may then be run gently around the bezel edge to emphasize a slight angle and make it appear thicker at the meet with the stone.
Kat, now I will print this and read over to see if ok. Please ask any questions you need to ask. From my point of view, I easily visualize the work and might leave something unclear to you while perfectly understood by me. Fair enough?
God Bless and peace. Thomas.