My first attempts of stone setting!!
So in the past couple of weeks I have taught myself how to stone set with some simple easy settings. After watching a few youtube tutorials I was slightly surprised how easy it looked so I was eager to get to the studio to have a go. I had bought moonstones, onyx and aventurine gem stones in various sizes along with some 2.5mm bezel wire and 0.5mm silver sheet.
The easiest setting to make is the bezel setting. This is when the stone has a cup to sit into. Normally for a bezel setting the stone must have a flat bottom to ensure you can get a tighter and more secure fit around the stone. These flat bottom stones are generally called cabochons and can come in various shapes and sizes.
The method I have used to create my bezel settings are made from two compartments, bezel wire (for the edge) and silver sheet (for the base).Bezel wire is practically rolled out silver sheet so it is possible for you to do yourself.
The first thing to do is to trace the stone with the bezel wire, the bezel wire is super soft to it is easy to get a good fit around the stone. Top tip – I found that sometimes this was really tricky with tiny stones so I placed some double sided sticky tape to my bench and then stuck the stone on top so that I could get a better grip and tension between the wire and the stone. Once you can pick up the stone with the wire in place you can then mark and snip the wire. You then need to solder the snipped edges together as you would with a simple plain band, bear in mind the bezel wire is extremely soft and thin so it can melt easily.
After the bezel wire is soldered you need to place it over the stone to make sure it fits, is the right shape and the right height. The height of the bezel depends on the height of the stone and the design you want. Once you feel comfortable with this you are then ready to solder this onto the base! For the base you must make sure the silver is 100% flat, this also means that the bezel wire has to be 100% flat. The easiest way to do this is to get abit of wet and dry, 800-1000 and place it on a bench block then gently rub the bezel on the wet and dry till its flat – keep rotating the bezel wire between your finger pressure points to get an even finish.
Here I attempted to roll my own bezel wire with twisted 1mm silver wire, next time i know to keep the twists of the wire the same as they have different tension spots! These are also failed bezel attempts oops!
After soldering the bezel together, you will then need to cut around the excess silver sheet (or incorporate it into the design) then clean up the solder seam and the rest of the bezel cup. Top tip – don’t get too excited (like I did) and put the stone into the bezel as it WILL get stuck if it is a good fit and it is almost impossible to rescue it without damaging all your hard work! If you’re desperate to see how it fits place some dental floss across the bezel and then place the stone in, then you can pop your stone up with the floss!
Now it is time to solder the bezel onto the band/shank. The easiest way that I have found to do this is to file a section of the ring flat using a needle file, this is so that the ring and the bezel gets a good tight fit which produces capillary action,( – essential for perfect soldering!) It is also good for the rings balance whilst soldering.
Exciting bit! The final step is to clean and polish the ring, once this is done you can set your stone! Secure your ring into a clamp and place your stone into the setting. Get yourself a bezel pusher, bezel rocker and a burnisher. First of all you need to get your pusher and push the bezel into the stone in opposite directions e.g, start from the top, push the top then push the bottom, push the left side and then push the right side..so on so fourth! Pushing opposites creates an even and well fitting look. The stone should be in place after this step so this is when you use the burnisher.
Think of the burnisher as a vegetable peeler! Using the same opposite rule as before, use the burner to push and perform a scraping motion along the top of the bezel. The burnisher encloses the setting onto the stone along side polishing it. The top of the bezel needs to be a tight fit so that no dirt gets inside which distorts the look of the stone. Once this step has been carried out a few times the stone should not rock or move when you touch it with your finger tip – this is a sign of a good secure setting! Congrats!
Here is a page from my sketchbook – I was figuring out which solder I needed to use on what bit. The trickiest thing about stone setting is the gradients of solder, especially if you are using more than one bezel!