I always start out on a HIDI ( how I do it ) by saying that
this is not the only way to do it,
and even not necessarily the best, but this is what works for me.
One of the posters on Orchird Jewelry Forum asked our serial arguer how, using his method,
would one make a bezel for a stone that is
shaped like a piece of snot on the pavement.
I really laughed at that description, so for this bezel making tutorial I am
going to make a bezel for three
A laminated and carved Larimar and chalcedony stone I made which is indeed shaped like
a gob on the pavement. I
was never happy with this stone so it is a good test subject.
The other two, a piece of not so well shaped Pietersite I bought on the
internet and an industrial machine cab
of black chalcedony.
I will basically use these pliers for most of the shaping and bending.
I will use others as well, but with
these one can make pretty much
any shaped bezel also known as a tube.
For standard cabs like the black one, which measures 12 x16mm
one can use a oval triblet, but I want in this
Making a Bezel Tutorial
to use only hand tools.
Also, the tube bender, second from the left, will leave a mark on the
metal so I use it only for harder metals
like 14kt gold.
The one BIG thing in goldsmithing is if you don’t want a mark on metal,
don’t put it there in the first place.
That is also the reason why all the
tips of my pliers are polished.
A lot of jewelers buy pre-made stock, and if one does, the best way to make a strip
of metal out of plate is
to pierce it. Not to use snips, because it deforms the metal and
makes accuracy more difficult. An example is in
the bottom right of the picture, where
I have pierced it halfway by way of illustration.
I melt and roll out all my stock, so I will be using the three strips of metal pictured.
The left side is 14kt gold and that I am going to use for the Larimar cab, it being the
most difficult shape
and the hardest material.
The other two will be made with silver.
The thickness of the strip is normally determined by the jeweller. Anything from .3mm to 1 mm
I prefer .7mm as the mean average, but as I said, the particular design will determine the
thickness of the
The height is determined by the minimum needed to hold the stone firmly.
It stands to reason that the minimum amount of metal will show the stone off the best,
but again, the design of
the final piece will be the arbitrator.
I start with the black cab and I shape the metal with the half round flat piers. I bend
and fit and bend some
more. I use the cab as my guide, check to see that the metal
follows the curve. This takes practice but is not
Eventually one get to this stage. This is where I then cut the bezel with my saw,
as shown in the next picture.
Now, as in the picture with the triangular cab , I sometime will cut up to five times,
incrementally making the
bezel smaller. This effort to get a good fit always pays off,
because there is no more worry about the stone
fitting the bezel as the piece progresses.
Then I cut the excess off with a saw.
No side cutters on snips, because that causes the metal to deform and wastes time fixing
the deformation up.
Trust me on this one.
The metal can sometimes be wrapped around the stone using the stone as a template.
Care should be taken because
some stones can be damaged that way.
Now another method used by jewellers is to work out the length of the metal via pencil
In this case it would be the length plus the breadth of an oval divided by two which gives
Then, multiplying the average by Pi, (3.14), gives the circumference and the adding one
and a half times the
thickness of the metal to the Pi figure, will give the overall length
of metal needed.
It seldom works , because very few cabs are perfect and by the time all the calculations
are worked out, the
metal measured and cut, I have finished using my method and am out
to lunch. I joke, I joke…..
Now, were I going to set this cab using the walls as a bearing surface, I would made
it a smidgeon to small,
like in this picture. But lets say you have just misjudged the size
and it is a little to small. Then all is not
lost, as long as its an oval .
Pop it on the round triblet and tap it up just a little bit. I normally make a mark with
a sharpie, ( shown on
the ‘E’ side ) so I can see how far I have tapped it up. Then,
when you happy, anneal it and bent it oval again
using the pliers shown above.
Bingo, bezel fits.
The next triangle bezel I start from the base, but it can be really started anywhere.
It’s just that bending the sharpest
corners first is easier.
I bend the two side up, using any of the two pliers shown.
Then I cut the one side lower and bent the top side over, because I want to solder
on the straight side. It is
easier than matching the two sides at the top and it is also
easier aligning to straight edges.
And as I mentioned before, I will saw small pieces off until the correct size is reached.
Done. The bezel is made far to high because in the many years I have been making
jewelry, I have found it is
much easier to file something smaller than bigger. So were
I to use this stone for a piece of jewelry, I would
file it lower until it was in proportion.
Now we come to the more difficult one.
14kt gold is much more hard and springy than silver.
Again, like in the previous stone, I start from the base and generally from the sharpest corner.
I work my way up to the top. This shape will require frequent bending back and forth.
This will work harden the
metal so I anneal the bezel from time to time.
Until I get to the top and then I anneal for the final time prior to soldering closed.
Now here is the thing.
Once the bezel is soldered closed, it is virtually impossible to adjust the shape. Simply
because if you bend
any part of the bezel, it will affect another part, normally the
opposite side. And you can waste more time trying
to fix it up that just starting over.
So I make pretty sure that all is accurate before I solder.
Here is the back part of the lamination cab after soldering. It stands to reason that
the tighter the fit the
better the job.
But , short of sloppy work, the tighter the fit also brings the possibility of the stone
chipping when it is
forced into the bezel. Common sense instead of a hammer should
Also, if the bezel does not fit well, it is at this stage of making the final piece that the
bezel should be
If it does not fit well, it also will not fit well as the piece progresses.
This will result in a sloppy job, and as I said, it always takes far longer to fix up than
starting the bezel
And here are the three bezels finished and ready for further working into jewellery.
The total time to make these bezels was hour and a half, with the lamination stone
taking 45 minutes, it having
a bezel of harder metal and a snotty shape.
The following projects also cover bezel / tube making :
Making small 18ct white gold
Making a Panel Ring - Part Two:
Making the Gem Box