How to make a cabochon bezel setting

Written by melissa j. bell
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Jewellery-making does not end with basic metal shaping. Often, metal jewellery is adorned with polished stones, beads and other embellishments that require a setting to stay attached to the initial framework. The most simple kind of stone setting is a cabochon bezel, designed to hold flat-backed stones called cabochons onto the surface of a ring, bracelet, or other form. You can apply your previous forming and soldering knowledge to the process of creating a cabochon bezel.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Cabochon stone
  • Jewelry piece
  • Sheet metal matching jewellery piece
  • Jeweller's saw
  • Drill
  • Tiny drill bits
  • Bezel wire
  • Wire clippers
  • Soldering tools

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Finish all soldering and sanding of your jewellery piece. Use a harder solder than you will use for the cabochon bezel.

  2. 2

    Measure the size of the cabochon you will be using. Note the circumference and height.

  3. 3

    Mark the size and shape of your cabochon onto a piece of flat sheet metal that matches the metal used in your jewellery design. Enlarge the size slightly so that you will be able to fit the bezel wire here. Using a handheld jeweller's saw, cut out the shape. File the sheet metal until it is fairly smooth.

  4. 4

    Drill a small hole into the centre of your sheet metal piece. Be very careful not to damage the piece. This hole leaves you a way to remove the cabochon from the setting during the creation process.

  5. 5

    Take a length of bezel wire or make your own with several layers of regular metal wire. Cut the bezel wire to the circumference of the cabochon. Double-check the size by placing the bezel wire around the cabochon, and form it to the general shape with your fingers. You will want a fairly snug fit.

  6. 6

    Solder the bezel wire together at the seam. Use very little hard solder and flux, and a tiny flame, as bezel wire is extremely soft and can melt easily. Put the bezel wire in the pickle pot and then sand the seam. Check the fit by pushing the cabochon into the bezel wire, then form the bezel wire to the exact shape of the cabochon. Remove the cabochon before moving to the next step.

  7. 7

    Solder the bezel wire to the sheet metal. Use a small amount of flux and be careful about placing the solder around the outside of the bezel wire. If you place solder on the inside, it may run inward and make your setting too small for the cabochon. Use a medium solder so that you do not melt the bezel wire or your previous soldering. Put the bezel into the pickle pot.

  8. 8

    Pop the cabochon into the bezel to recheck the fit. If the cabochon does not fit, you will need to either remake the bezel or file the problem areas. Use the hole in the back to push the cabochon out of the bezel.

  9. 9

    File and sand the excess sheet metal at the edges of the bezel so that it forms a smooth cup. You can now solder the bezel to your jewellery design.

  10. 10

    Place the cabochon into the finished jewellery design. Fold the edges of the bezel wire down over the cabochon neatly. Continue with any polishing you like.

Tips and warnings

  • You can forego the sheet metal bottom and solder your bezel wire directly to a flat part of your jewellery design.
  • Use a tabletop drill for safety.
  • If you cannot shape the bezel wire with your fingers, anneal it by heating the wire and dropping it into the pickle pot. Shape the bezel wire as soon as it is cool enough to touch.
  • If the bezel wire is too tall for your stone, trim it with a pair of non-serrated shears.
  • Too-tight bezels can be stretched using a mallet and ring mandrel. Too-loose bezels will have to be cut and resoldered.
  • To avoid melting your bezel wire, you can set the bezel on a screen atop a tripod and heat the bezel from beneath.

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