When you’re just starting out as a silversmith, creating ring settings is likely the first thing on your list that you’d like to master.
But where do you start?
Making a bezel setting such as the one shown in the image above is a great place to begin, as it’s one of the simpler ring settings to work on and master, before you move onto the more complex process of creating prong settings.
To give you a head start, here’s our step by step guide to making a bezel setting, including all the jewellery tools and supplies you’ll need.
How to make a bezel setting with our step by step guide
What you’ll need:
• Jeweller’s saw
• Set of files & sandpaper
• Silver bezel wire
• Silver sheet
• Silver solder
• Bezel pusher
• Hand torch
• Tripod & heat screen
• Pickling solution
• Side cutters
Step One: Which gemstone are you going to bezel set?
If you’re working with a gemstone that has some visible flaws on its side, or has some discolouration in one area, a bezel setting is the ideal choice. Carefully placed, the bezel strip will cover any imperfections leaving you with a perfectly set stone that your customers will love. Making a bezel setting is also a good idea when using softer gemstones. If the stone you’re working with has a hardness of around 6-7 on the Mohs scale, then the bezel will help protect the stone from any scratches that may occur. Unlike a prong setting, the stone will be less exposed but still only partially covered to reveal its natural qualities.
Of course, you may be working with something else entirely. You may want to bezel set glass, shells, or buttons. As long as the material you’re working with has a relatively flat surface to sit on, you should be able to create your own bezel setting for use with your own unique pieces.
Step 2: Measure the length of your bezel wire
Take your silver bezel wire and the object that you’re setting in place. Roughly guide the bezel wire around the object so that you can mark the length at which to cut the bezel wire. Don’t wrap the bezel wire too tightly around the object you’re setting. You’ll want to leave a little slack so that you have extra to work with, just in case you need to make any additional adjustment to the bezel wire as you work.
Step 3: Trim the height of the bezel wire
Depending on the stone you’re setting in place, you may need to trim the height of the bezel wire if it’s slightly too high or it will wrap too far over the top of the stone. After all, you don’t want to fully cover the stone you’re working with! A partial bezel setting will leave more of the stone open and able to capture the sunlight when worn. Using your side cutters, carefully trim the height of your bezel wire. This may take a few attempts to get down to the height you require – better to trim a few times than to waste your bezel wire with an incorrect attempt.
Step 4: File the ends of your bezel wire flat
Using a flat file, file each end of the bezel wire until it is completely flat. Check that each end of the bezel wire fits flush together by bringing together the two ends at regular intervals as you file. This will help you get a clean, flush joint when it comes to soldering the bezel setting together.
Step 5: Check each end of the bezel wire
Does each end match up perfectly? Check if the join is flush by tightly bringing together the two ends of wire and holding it up to the light. If you can see some light leaking through the join, continue filing until each end is completely flat and flush.
Step 6: Solder the bezel wire
Apply a very small amount of your silver solder to the join. Heat the bezel wire with your hand torch using a circular motion until the solder runs. Now pickle and rinse the soldered bezel wire.
Need more guidance when it comes to pickling? Check out our guide to pickling, including what equipment you’ll need and a step by step process guide.
Step 7: Forming the bezel
Once rinsed, you are now able to take the stone you’re setting and place the bezel over it to check the size and fit. Make sure you work on a hard, smooth surface such as a steel block – this will make it easier to push the bezel wire down onto the stone you’re working with.
Gently push the bezel wire down over the stone with your fingertips. The silver bezel wire will be malleable now it’s been soldered, so you should be able to gently push the wire over the stone, forming a more accurate shape to your setting.
Step 8: Sand the bezel wire
Once you’re happy with the overall shape, pop out the stone. Using fine sandpaper, gently smooth the sides and edges of your bezel wire. For a smooth, even finish, gently sand the bezel applying even pressure. Using a circular motion helps to avoid any uneven edges as you work.
Step 9: Check the bezel wall
Happy with the finish on the bezel wire? Now check the height of the bezel wall. Place it onto the stone again and gently push into place. Is the wall of the bezel high enough so that it can successfully wrap slightly over the shoulder of the stone? Or is it too short? If there is still too much excess wire that will cover the stone too much, continue sanding until you’re happy with the height of the wall. If it’s too short, unfortunately you’ll have to start the process again.
Step 10: Making the base of the bezel setting
Take a small piece of your silver sheet and your jeweller’s saw. Mark a rough shape on the sheet metal that is slightly larger than your bezel wire hoop. This can then be trimmed and tidied once it’s been soldered in place.
Step 11: Solder the bezel setting together
Set up your tripod and heat screen so that you can solder the small piece of silver sheet and the bezel wire together to make a bezel setting. Using a tripod will ensure that you can heat the bezel setting from below. This stops the thinner silver bezel wire from heating up faster than the thicker silver sheet, stopping the silver solder from flowing correctly. When it comes to soldering the two together, carefully place silver solder pallions on the inside of the bezel cup, where the two pieces join. Heat from below until you can see that the solder has successfully flowed through the join in the bezel cup. Now pickle and rinse your bezel setting.
Step 12: Trim and tidy the bezel setting
Once rinsed you can now saw away the excess silver sheet base of the setting, leaving you with a cleaner shape and finish. Once you’ve sawn away the excess edges, you can now tidy the bezel cup by filing and sanding the piece, smoothing away and scratches and revealing a high shine.
Step 13: Solder the bezel cup to your jewellery piece
Are you creating a ring? Or a pendant? Now that you’ve made the bezel cup, you can add this to your chosen piece of jewellery, whatever that may be. It’s important to solder the two elements together at this stage so that the stone, glass or object that you’re setting in place does not get damaged during the soldering process.
Step 14: Add the stone to your bezel setting
Now you’re ready to place your stone into the bezel cup, and push the sides of the bezel cup using a bezel pusher to safely lock the stone in place. Start working the more rounded edges first, or any corners, depending on the shape of your stone, leaving any straighter edges till last. This will help to avoid any bunching up of the bezel wire, making a bezel setting that is completely smooth all the way around the stone.
Step 15: Burnish the bezel cup
Take your burnisher tool and run it along the edge of your bezel cup. The highly polished steel of the burnisher will leave a high shine finish on the bezel setting while continuing to secure the stone in place. Burnishing the setting will also work-harden the silver, leaving you with a well-structured setting that keeps the stone you’re working with in place.
Making a bezel setting is a great starting point if you’re new to setting stones in your jewellery pieces. And if you want to speed up making a bezel you can invest in pre-made bezel pendant blanks and cups in circular, square and oval shapes from Cooksongold. Not to mention our latest filigree bezel cups, ideal for creating unique gemstone pendants for your customers. However you prefer making a bezel setting you can pick up everything you need at Cooksongold, from silver sheet, to bezel wire and gallery strip.
Interested in learning more about different types of stone settings and how to produce them yourself? Read our Swarovski stone setting guide – a useful guide to making settings for your latest gemstone drive collections.