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Bezel-setting a cabochon

BASICS_bezel setting P1
Figure 1
BASICS_bezel setting F1
Figure 2

Use bezel wire to tightly encircle the edge of a cabochon, allowing the ends of the bezel wire to overlap (Figure 1). Use flush cutters to cut through the bezel wire where it overlaps (Figure 2). Bring the ends of the bezel wire together with no gaps. If necessary, use a file to make the ends fit flush. It’s not necessary for the bezel to remain in the shape of the stone; you can reform it after you’ve soldered it. Place the bezel wire on a soldering pad. Flux the bezel wire, and place a small pallion of hard solder on the join. Heat the entire bezel wire with a soft, bushy flame until the solder starts to flow, and then use the flame to draw the solder up the bezel seam (solder flows toward heat, so you can use the heat to pull the molten solder up the seam). Remove the heat, then quench the bezel in water. Place the bezel in pickle for a few minutes to clean it, then rinse and dry it.

BASICS_bezel setting P2
Figure 3

Test the fit of your bezel by pushing the cabochon through the bezel from either side; the fit should be snug (Figure 3). If the bezel is too large, cut the seam (removing the old solder), and resolder. If the bezel is too small, stretch the bezel wire on a mandrel, or start over.

BASICS_bezel setting F2
Figure 4
To solder the bezel to a backplate, set the bezel in place, flux both parts, and place solder pallions so that they touch both surfaces (Figure 4). Heat the backplate with a soft, bushy flame until the solder melts. Use the flame to draw the solder all the way around the seam. Quench the bezel cup in water and pickle, rinse, dry, and then check the seam. If the entire bezel is not soldered to the backplate, resolder it.
BASICS_bezel setting F3
Figure 5
To test the fit of the stone in the bezel cup, lay a piece of dental floss over the bezel cup and then press the cabochon into the bezel (Figure 5). Use the floss to pop the cab out of the bezel. If it’s necessary to reduce the bezel’s height, place it face-down on a piece of sandpaper on a flat surface and sand it in a figure-8 motion.
BASICS_bezel setting F4
Figure 6
The walls of the bezel cup should extend up just beyond the point at which the stone begins to curve inward (Figure 6); a taller bezel will overshadow your stone; a shorter bezel may not hold your stone securely. A general guideline is that the bezel should be about one-third as tall as the stone.
BASICS_bezel setting P3
Figure 7
Use a jeweler’s saw to trim the backplate, then file the remaining backplate even with the bezel wall. Place the cabochon in the bezel. Viewing the bezel like the face of a clock, use a burnisher or bezel rocker to gently push the bezel down onto the stone, first at 12:00, then at 6:00. Repeat at the 3:00 and 9:00 positions (Figure 7). Work around the stone, pushing the bezel down with opposing moves to keep the stone centered and to keep the bezel from getting pleated.
BASICS_bezel setting F5
Figure 8
Rub the burnisher around the outer edge of the pushed bezel to smooth it (Figure 8); use consistent pressure. Place masking tape over the stone to protect it, and use a pink rubber wheel in a flex shaft to polish the bezel.
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