Silver bezels, or bezel cups, consist of a frame of bezel wire and sterling silver sheet metal backing that is soldered together to create the setting for a stone. The bezel cup is used to set or mount a cabochon, which is a flat-backed stone with a polished concave top surface. Silver bezels can mount stones to be used as necklace pendants, rings and brooches. You can make your own silver bezel with silver bezel wire and sterling silver sheet metal.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Measure tape
- Silver bezel wire
- Tin snips or flush cutters
- Metal file
- Soldering pad
- Flux with brush
- Jeweller's torch
- Medium solder wire
- Pickling acid granules
- Copper tongs
- Cabochon stone
- Ring mandrel
- Fine-grit sandpaper
- Steel block
- Sterling silver sheet metal
- Tripod with metal screen
- Jeweller's saw
Measure the outer perimeter of the cabochon stone. Cut a piece of silver bezel wire with tin snips or flush cutters. Make it so that it is slightly longer than the perimeter measurement by 1/16 inch.
File down the ends of the bezel wire with a metal file until the ends match up, or marry, perfectly when put together. Wrap the bezel wire around the stone, and bend it into the shape of the perimeter of the stone.
Place the bezel on the soldering pad with the seam or joint edges up. Apply an even layer of flux onto the edges of the bezel wire with a brush. Ignite the jeweller's torch and run the flame over the bezel wire in a circular motion. Once the metal has heated up, stick feed the medium solder wire into the joint or touch the end of the solder to the hot bezel wire. The solder will melt and flow onto the bezel wire. Continue heating the bezel wire and removing the flame to touch the solder wire to the bezel until the seam edges or joint has been covered with solder.
Add the pickling acid granules and water to the Crockpot, and heat the mixture up to dissolve the acid. Pick up the soldered bezel wire with copper tongs and drop it into the heated pickle mixture in the Crockpot. When the bezel wire is shiny and clean and all of the oxidisation colours are removed, take the bezel out of the pickle mixture with tongs and rinse it off.
Push the bezel over the cabochon stone and onto its perimeter to test the fit, then remove it. If the bezel is too tight, stretch it by placing it on a ring mandrel and bending the metal out. Sand down the edges of the bezel wire until it is smooth with fine-grit sandpaper on a steel block. Place the bezel back onto the cabochon stone. If the top of the bezel wire is too tall, the metal will crinkle on you, so check the height of the wire to make sure it matches the height of the bezel stone shoulder. If they don't, sand the wire sides down until they are even with the stone shoulder.
Cut out the base of the bezel by cutting a piece of sterling silver sheet metal that is slightly larger than the bezel. Set the sheet metal down on a metal screen on a tripod and place the bezel on top of the sheet metal. Ignite the jeweller's torch and heat the bezel from underneath the screen. Touch the tip of medium solder to the hot sheet metal and solder the sterling silver sheet metal to the bezel wire to create the bezel cup. Drop the soldered bezel cup back into the hot pickle and then rinse once it is cleaned off.
Trim off the excess sheet metal with a jeweller's saw to remove the remaining silver sheet metal that is surrounding the soldered bezel cup. File down the rough edges with the metal file. Sand down the bezel cup to a smooth finished surface. The bezel is now ready to be attached to a piece of jewellery.
Tips and warnings
- Handle open flames of jewellery torches with care.
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