Monday, March 22, 2010

Open-backed rub-over setting...without any wobble!

This versatile setting allows light behind the stone and is smart and minimalist.
  • You can use it to set stones of opaque or translucent quality.
  • It works for most flat-backed stones as well as faceted stones, cut stones, or smooth cabochons.
  • You can make the inner bezel from thicker metal if your stone needs a wider ‘seat’ to sit on.
  • You can make this setting for most shapes of stones, with a little practice.
  • You can incorporate this setting into virtually any kind of jewellery, from rings to necklaces…it all depends on your own ability and skill level.
clip_image0021. Measure the height of your stone with dividers or a strip of paper then allow a few millimetres more, as I have done here. You may notice that my dividers live in a damp environment and are in dire need of oiling!

2. Mark out a strip of metal to the width that you have set in step 1. The length needs to be long enough to wrap around the circumference of your stone but allow much more to play with. The metal needs to be really thin, thin enough that you can easily cut it with scissors, thin enough to eventually rub over your stone with ease, but not so thin that it would quickly melt when you solder it onto your piece of work….this will vary according to your ability and how bulky the item you are soldering onto is.

clip_image002[6]3. Cut it out with scissors or snips. Now use some narrow flat-nose pliers to bend the strip into a square for a square / rectangular / triangular etc shaped stone. Use round or half-round pliers for round, oval etc stones, or a combination of pliers for unusual shaped stones. Match the strip up to the stone to check you are creating the right shape. Gently anneal the strip if you’ve work-hardened the metal with over shaping and re-shaping.

clip_image002[8]4. You can see here that I’ve made 2 of the corners for this faceted square CZ stone and I’m matching the strip up to stone before marking in pencil where the next bend needs to be. Decide when looking at your mark at this point, whether you are going to place your pliers on one side of the line, on the line, or to the other side of the line….it can make a big difference to how your setting looks, but notice how many stones are not as geometric and perfect as they may at first appear to be!

5. Here you can see the finished square next to its owner. You may notice that the stone is narrower across the lower length…it is not as square as it first appeared.


6. Here is the stone in its Bezel that we have just made. It’s a snug fit. The bezel was soldered closed with hard solder and a careful, small flame on a crème bruleẽ torch. Now make another one of these squares, but in a thicker metal, and make it NOT to wrap around the stone, but to fit snugly inside the 1st square (bezel). Make it the same height as your stone. It will be the seat your stone sits on.

7. Above you can see the stone, the bezel (1st square) and the inner seat (2nd square), side by side for comparison. Solder the ‘seat’ closed now, or in the next step.

clip_image002[18]8. Ok, now solder the seat into the bezel with hard solder. You may choose to be soldering the ‘seat’ closed at the same time, all in one go…it’s not hard, it will happen without you even having to try if your inner square fits snugly in your outer square….hang on though, before you go for it, just read the next step (step 9).

clip_image002[20]9. You are looking at the bottom, the ‘base’, the underside of the setting. Excess ‘seat’ is protruding (we’ll remove it later), but this protrusion is handy for placing your solder against. If you place your solder inside the setting then you are in danger of inadvertently ruining your nice neat, crisp edged seat with excess solder or possibly solder residue from insufficient heating, the stone wont sit happily. By soldering from underneath, you allow for your mistakes or novice ability…and no one will know! Make sure your stone sits so that enough of the outer bezel protrudes above the 'girdle' of your stone, for you to be able to rub over.

clip_image002[22]10. And here is the finished setting. Snip and file away the underside so it’s neat. Solder onto your piece of work, clean up/polish etc, place your stone in. If your bezel isn’t that thin, then you might want to file the top 1mm or so, in order that it pushes over easily. Push each side over with your Pusher, 1st one side, then the opposite and so on, all the way around. Next, for a tight fit that avoids ‘wobbly stone’ use your pusher to carefully push down on the very lip of the bezel. Just a bit of pressure is needed to ensure a tight fit. The edge of the lip effectively curls over and ‘bites’ into the stone…but not that you can see it, see the illustration here…..;

clip_image002[24]Finish by rubbing the edge with your Burnisher, all the way around, always rubbing in one direction so as not to stretch the metal, just enough to harden, too much will wrinkle it. This hardens and shines up the setting nicely. Here you can see two of my brooches which each feature a little set CZ stone, one square, one round. I use this setting also for cabochons.



Evie's Tool Emporium said...

Excellent tutorial! Thank you for sharing your skills!

emi savacool said...

thanks for the tutorial, it's awesome!

Phantasteria said...

Great tutorial!
How do you prevent the inner seat from falling through onto the front side when soldering it onto the outer bezel from behind?

fluxplay said...

Hello Phantasteria, thanks for your question. There's a few things you'd be doing to stop this happening; 1. Your inner 'seat' bezel would be a good, snug fit. It it's so loose that it falls out / moves then it's not going to make good contact against the outer bezel for soldering. 2. Flux the inside of the outer bezel first, then slot the inner one up inside, then warm up to 'set' the flux a little, but no so as you oxidise everything. 3. For soldering, when one is inside the other, lay it all on it's side if you like. Hope this answers your question.

tiny said...

this is so great! i have some sea glass i'd like to set for a pendant, but don't have any tools. i've never done this before, so do you have any specific recommendations for which types of metal and tools to buy, and websites to buy from?

thank you!

Fluxplay Jewellery. said...

Thanks for your question Tiny, I'll try my best to answer it. Sea glass is possibly the most difficult 'stone' to bezel set because there are no sharp, geometric edges to work against and the back (whichever side that might be) is rarely flat / even. If you've never tried this sort of thing before, I would recommend starting on a different tack for containing seaglass; low temperature soldering with a soldering iron, copper tape and lead-free shiny solder is an ideal way to try your first seaglass 'entrapment'. You'll get a feel for shaping and fitting, and directing solderflow. I found that this book is great for teaching you how to do that; Then if you catch the bug, you could invest in a gas flame torch and the equipment and materials I mention in the tutorial which is aimed at those who have some metalworking experience. Good luck and have fun!

Fluxplay Jewellery. said...

...oh, I forgot to say, if you're raring to try out this setting, then just refer to the top of the tutorial where I list which general types of stone the setting is suitable for.
Just google for the equipment. There are even Etsy Sellers who sell the basics as well as small quantities of different metals.

jwhite said...

Hi Fluxplay, I realize this post is several years old but am hoping you'll pick up my question. In this demo you're setting a square stone. I'm curious if you have any tips to share about creating a clean bezel edge at corner spots? I recently ran into an issues where my bezel folded over onto itself at a sharp point (much like a paper corner!). In retrospect, I think the bezel wall might have been too high at that point? Not sure though and could use some expert advice.


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