Jewelry Making Tips with Metalsmith Society

Bezel Tips

March 04, 2024 Corkie Bolton Season 1 Episode 9
Jewelry Making Tips with Metalsmith Society
Bezel Tips
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In today’s episode I am going to share some tips about bezels, how to prevent your stones from getting stuck before you’re ready to set, what to do if they do get stuck. I’ll cover what to do if a bezel is too short or too tall, or too snug! I’ll also go over a sawing tip, a sanding tip and a soldering tip!

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Using floss so your stone won’t get stuck form @earth_to_chandra -

What if your bezel does get stuck? You can use this tip from @saltwater.and.silver -

Here are several bezel tips from @taylorsaleem -

Big Bezel tips from @meritmade -

Here is a tip for sawing, filing and sanding your bezels from @redappleroadjewelry -

Tip to check your bezel is properly soldered from @baystateopals -

What if you want a bezel to have a curved base so it solders to a curved surface like a ring? Use this tip from @martindenoch -


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Music attribution: Stock Music provided by RomanSenykMusic, from Pond5 

Corkie Bolton:

Welcome to Jewelry Making Tips with Metals mith Society, the ultimate podcast for anyone passionate about the art of jewelry making. I'm your host, Corkie Bolton. Metals mith Society is a community on Instagram that has over 240,000 individuals, from professional jewelers to small business artisans, hobbyists, students and even those curious, lucky lose eager to learn about jewelry making. Together we share tips, kindness and support. In this podcast, I will discuss tips from the Instagram page, provide deeper insights, address questions and share bonus tips that often surface in the comments section. So, whether you've been making jewelry for a while or you're just starting your jewelry making journey, this podcast is your go-to resource for all the jewelry making tips. So grab your tools, dust off your workbench and join me. In today's episode, I'm going to talk about a popular subject bezel setting. I'm going to share some tips about bezels how to prevent your stones from getting stuck before you're ready to set, what to do if they do get stuck. I'll cover what to do if a bezel is too short or too tall or too snug. I'll also go over a sawing tip, a sanding tip and a soldering tip. So stay tuned. The first tip I want to talk about today was shared by Earth to Chandra, and I think this must have been one of the first tips I shared within a month of starting Metals mith Society. And what she shared is using a piece of floss when you are checking a stone inside the seed, so you place the floss underneath the stone and then that way you have a way to kind of pop the stone out if it is fitting snugly, and then that way it won't get stuck. So you can reuse the same piece of floss over and over again. You can even lay one piece one direction and then cross the other one diagonally if you want a little extra protection. But it definitely is a fantastic tip that works great. Now, sometimes, even if you use the floss tip, maybe it kind of fell out from under the stone and the stone gets stuck anyhow. Or you didn't know about the floss tip and you were very innocently checking your cabochon inside your soldered setting and now it's stuck. And that's what brings me to my next tip, which was shared by Saltwater and Silver. What she does in this video is she heats up a glue stick and then, while the glue stick is slightly softened, attaches it to the stone, allows it to cool and then very easily pulls the stone out. Now in this video she uses a torch.

Corkie Bolton:

I've personally used this tip and my preference is for a craft heat gun because it doesn't get the glue stick quite as hot. Don't get me wrong. The tip is fantastic and you can certainly use a torch, but you want to proceed with caution. I also use my craft heat gun for when I'm heating thermal lock, which is a work holding thermal plastic that's reusable. So it's a great thing to have a craft heat gun. It's a pretty inexpensive tool and they're great to have for this type of thing. And yeah, I've personally used this. I heat up the glue stick a little bit until it's shiny on one end and then I stick it to my stone. I've never had it ruin a stone. I mean, I work with some pretty fragile stones. I think if you got it possibly boiling, bubbling hot and you stuck it onto a fragile stone, that could be a problem. But I think the point here is that you're just kind of heating the glue stick until it's a little glossy and just sticky enough to then attach to the stone, and it does work fantastically.

Corkie Bolton:

I will, of course, with every other tip in this episode, link them all in the show notes so you can see the tip in action. This one happened to be a real. There were a lot of fantastic comments. People were talking about how they've used duct tape successfully, the wax from Baby Bell, cheese, beeswax there was also someone that made mention of. If your design allows it, you can drill a hole on the back end of your setting before you put the stone in, obviously, and that would give you a place to sort of poke the stone out of. But sometimes design won't allow you to do the hole. I would say with some of these other methods like beeswax, I've used all of them and I would say I go to the hot glue when all those other methods fail, which can occasionally happen for me because I make these settings sometimes that are just right and you know a stone might be a little snug in there. So it's certainly something that you can give a go next time you have a stone get stuck.

Corkie Bolton:

The next tip I want to talk about was shared by Taylor Saleem, and it's actually a three-in-one. I love this post. The first thing she talked about is what she does if the stone is not sitting tall enough in a setting or if generally the bezel is just too tall and what she does is she coils a bit of wire and places it inside the bezel before setting the stone. And what I really like about this is, if you are making demi-fine jewelry, you're working in sterling silver or maybe with some, or maybe you're working with some gold as well. You're typically going to want your piece to be entirely comprised of those precious metals, and so doing a coil is a great way to lift it up without having to make it. You know a heavy piece of metal but you can still say that your piece is 100% sterling silver. As an example, you know anytime that we share this kind of thing.

Corkie Bolton:

People talk about in the comments other items that they've used to lift a stone. I've read everything from broken bits of CDs. If you don't know what a CD is, you're probably a lot younger than I am, but Google that People have used you know non-precious base metals. I've heard of wood shavings and sand and you know you name it and people have used it. And to that I say if your jewelry making is sort of a hobby and it's a craft and you're using these non-metal materials, I think that's totally your prerogative and there's no harm there. I think if you are selling, like quote silver or gold jewelry, you're going to want to make sure that your piece is not composed of any of those materials, unless you're going to explicitly state that and be upfront about it. But I do always love that whenever we share about, you know, raising up a stone in a bezel, that you know the bezel is too tall, we get a ton of creative solutions that people have used over the years.

Corkie Bolton:

The next part of Taylor's post is about what she does if a bezel is a little too snug, and I mean this can totally happen. So what she does is she places the bezel around a steel punch. So steel punches, a cylinder, steel rod. Essentially they come in different sizes so they're really well suited for this. She rolls it on a bench block, so it's steel inside the bezel supporting it and then you're rolling it on steel and so those forces against two steel surfaces can help stretch it out. It works particularly well if it's a circular bezel, because you know you don't have to really reshape it. You're just making it a little bit bigger around a round steel punch. But you can also use this technique and then reshape your bezel with your pliers. So I love that and that happens to the best of us. You know you make a bezel and then you're like, oh, the stone doesn't fit. So that's definitely a great tip to try. The last part of her post is really unique. I'd never seen this technique before and I think it's a fantastic idea. She uses washi tape to essentially measure around her stone and then she marks it and then lays it flat against her bezel strip and then cuts it where that mark is. So it's just kind of a great way to almost make a little model of your bezel around your stone with the washi tape, which is super easy to come off and seems like a really great way to get that snug fit and get that distance. If you wanna see the visuals to this tip, just click over to the show notes and you can see the original post.

Corkie Bolton:

Next I wanna share a tip from Merit Made about what to do if you're making a really big bezel. Her first bit of advice is to up the gauge of your bezel wire. So instead of using 28 gauge fine silver, she recommends 26 gauge, which is a bit thicker, and that larger gauge helps to keep the shape. While soldering she has experienced that more than once she had used thinner bezel wire and it had deformed a little bit in the soldering process and then her stone wouldn't fit. So just by upping that gauge a little bit, it's gonna give more strength and stability. And her other bit of advice is to turn up the heat. The larger the bezel, the larger the back plate. That extra back plate requires a lot more heat. And she went on to share her actual setup and you should click over to the post and see it. It's pretty cool, but she essentially uses a steel tripod and then she's also using titanium clips to hold the bezel to the back plate and that way she can heat from below. And when you have that bigger bezel, anytime you're soldering a bezel wire onto a bezel, it's always gonna be a bit better to heat from below anyhow, because that back plate is always gonna be bigger and thicker than the bezel wire and require more heat. And so this kind of applies to any bezel situation. But particularly if you're making a gigantic bezel and even just seeing the bezels that she made in this post were really cool because they were statement pieces, which are awesome Sometimes you have a really small bezel and you have to saw off any extra back plate and it can be challenging to hold, and so you'll wanna try this tip from Red Apple Road Jewelry.

Corkie Bolton:

They use an old magic rub eraser to hold small, medium and even large bezels securely while sawing and filing, and that eraser applies nice, even pressure over the entire setting and bezel without it bending, and it saves your fingers. So that's certainly something to try next time you're sawing out that little strip of metal just around the bezel. Next, I wanna talk about a tip to ensure that your bezel is properly soldered. Every once in a while I'll have a beginner reach out to me that a bezel started to kind of lift off of a back plate and they've already started to set the stone. It's always such a disappointment when this happens. It's happened to most of us, I would say, when we were somewhere along the line of our journey making jewelry, so it's a common mistake. One way that you can avoid this entirely is you can use this tip from Bay State Opals.

Corkie Bolton:

You can put a flashlight, a little mini flashlight, right inside your bezel after you've taken it out of the pickle and dried it, and where you see the light shine, that's where you know you might need to go back in. Well, I mean if you see light, you definitely need to go back in and reflow, add additional solder in some cases. We used to say in college, if you see light, something's not right or something along those lines, and it's always stuck with me. So it's really true with any solder seam, not just bezels. If you soldered a ring band or a pendant or anything else, if you kind of hold it up against the light and you're seeing light come through where there shouldn't be, you know that you need to go back and resolder that particular area.

Corkie Bolton:

The very last bezel tip I'm gonna share today and I'm certain there's gonna be a part two, a part three, a part four and a part five, because there's so many tips when it comes to bezels. But this one is about filing the bottom of a bezel to match a curve, and this is particularly helpful when you are soldering a bezel onto a curved ring, and we've had various people share solutions for this type of problem. But I really like the share from Martin Denoc. What he did was he placed one of his dapping tools that match the curve of the ring into his bench vise and placed sandpaper over it and then sanded the bezel to match that exact curve. And what I liked about this was the dapping tools unlike, say, using a ring mandrel is not tapered. It's, you know, consistently the same size, just like a ring would be. So it's been shared in the past and some people have used a ring mandrel and I think what's harder about that is that it's tapered and you'd almost have to continuously flip the setting and really be finicky about sanding it to make sure that it fit, whereas if you can find a dapping tool that matches your curve exactly, you can just sand on that until it fits. And again, with this tip there's a fantastic visual. So if you head over to the show notes and click on it, you can see it in action. If the way I'm explaining it isn't making sense, I hope it is.

Corkie Bolton:

Thank you so much for tuning in today. I hope you found some of these bezel tips super helpful. Your support means the world to me. If you enjoyed today's episode and want to keep the podcast going, there are a few ways you can support my show. You can subscribe on your favorite podcast platform, like Apple Podcasts or Spotify, leave a review to let others know what you think and share the podcast with your friends and family, or consider becoming one of my Patreon at patreon. com/ metalsmithsociety. Every little bit helps to keep the conversation going and the content flowing. Thank you for being a part of my journey and I'll catch you in the next episode. Bye.

Intro and sponsor with discount code
Dental floss under the stone
Using a glue stick to pull stones out
Solutions for tall or snug bezels plus measuring bezels
Big bezels
Using an eraser to hold your bezel
Ensuring your bezel is properly soldered
Filing curved bezels
Outro and how to support the Metalsmith Society