My friend Sherman claims to be bezel challenged. That got me thinking. Who hasn’t had a cool stone or glass cab that would look great in a metal setting? And while you can always wire wrap or make a tab setting (here’s a link to a great tutorial from Jewelry Making Daily on making tab settings) maybe you are ready for something a little more advanced’
So, here is a setting idea for the bezel challenged. Are you listening Sherman?.
After pickling and rinsing, I laid three 18 gauge wires with balls on both ends on top of the shape and soldered them on, again with medium solder. I also soldered the bail on during this step. (It has a little tab of metal I slipped under the 14 gauge wire and gravity held everything in place). You might prefer to solder on the bail in a different step. The beauty here is that you don’t have to worry about fit because the wires you’re soldering together already touch each other. The soldering goes very quickly. If you solder in three stages you might consider using easy solder for the last step.
Here I am making a bail from a strip of 18 gauge copper and bail making pliers.
Here’s another shape cleaned up. You can see that I was too generous with the solder on one of the wires. But there is an easy solution. Toss a steel nail and your copper piece back in the pickle. I don’t heat my pickle so I leave it for maybe five hours. The steel makes the copper that is floating around in the pickle coat the copper piece. If you have any silver or brass pieces in the pickle, they will become copper coated too, so leave them out. At the end of the period, fish out the nail and it will be slimy with copper (and your pickle will be cleaner!) The silver solder on the copper piece will no longer be visible. You can still sand and file it off, so don’t be any more vigorous than you have to be with the finishing. And yes, it is durable.
The final step is to bend the prongs front and back to hold the cab in place. You can also use your pliers to make interesting shapes with the prongs. You can make the prongs long and coil them into spirals if you like. You need to make at least three prongs to hold the cab securely.
With this technique, you don’t have to measure your stone or cab as accurately as you need to when you make a bezel. I just eyeballed the pieces in this post. Another advantage of this technique is that you can see both sides of the item you are setting unlike a bezel where you only see the front. The backs of fused cabs are usually not that interesting but stones are another story.
This technique lends itself to playing with the metal too. For the piece below, I soldered a bunch of copper rings together and then added a smaller circle with the soldered prongs.
If you are using a micro torch, be sure it’s hot enough; not all micro torches are created equal. A good choice is the Blazer GB2100. Also, you need a soldering surface that will work with you and not against you. I prefer a refractory block. A Solderite soldering board is another option.
I am not sure how I am going to use this yet. If I had to do over, I would have balled the wire that holds the cab from the back. It doesn’t look bad the way it is, but it could have looked better.
Even though I “discovered” this technique while playing around, I am sure it’s been around for years because it’s so intuitive. I am interested in seeing what other people have made with it. If you know about anything, send it my way.