Jewelry with an Organic Style

Jewelry with an Organic Style

Over Coming Step Bezel Fear

posted by LjB on , , , ,


For some time now I have been wanting to try to make a step bezel but I never got around to it or I was a little to afraid to give it a whirl. However the desire to get this technique under my belt was strong so I forced myself to find the time and dive in. The reason for wanting to add step bezels to my repertoire is because I wanted to make high bezels in hopes of soldering some decorations on the side of the bezels.

Of course as always I have to start with the most difficult.

 I had this little turquoise stone that I had wanted to set in a high bezel. I measured the outer bezel and soldered  it together with hard solder. Then I measured  the inner bezel and solder the seam together also with hard solder. Fit your inner bezel inside the outer one making sure the solder seams are on opposite sides of one another and there are no open spaces in between the two bezels. Place some medium wire solder on the inner ledge of the inside bezel and and solder both bezels together. Move the flame of your torch in circular movements around your step bezel and not directly on it or your little solder wire will fly all over.

                Of course you must also take into consideration the height of your stone and how high you want the outer bezel and calculate accordingly the height of your bezels. You need enough outer bezel to set your stone and enough inner bezel for your stone to sit on.  I wanted the outer bezel to fit perfectly on the curved ring band so I had a lot of sanding to do. You can see in the photo above to the right how it came out after I finished sanding. To create the curve underneath the step bezel I used a circle template.

 First I  had previously soldered with hard solder my ring shank.  Formed it on my ring mandrel, cleaned and sanded the ring band.  I found the hole on my template that match the size of my ring band. The ring band should fit nicely in the hole of the template, just like two puzzle pieces that fit together. Then I put the ring mandrel through the matching hole and marked on the mandrel where the template stopped.

I taped sand paper near the marked area of the mandrel and sanded my step bezel in that area. With a lot of patience the curve will begin to form under the step bezel and will eventually match and sit nicely on your ring band just like the above photo.

Now to solder the step bezel to the ring band. I used binding wire to hold the two pieces together and placed the solder wire around the inside seam.
It did not solder completely the first time so I pickled and cleaned then soldered again.

Here is the ring all soldered and cleaned, not to shabby for a first time. Of course I had to go a little further and solder on some decorative wire and silver balls.

 Here is the ring finished, and I must say I am pretty pleased how it came out. It will be hard to let go of this one. Naturally I went on to try other step bezels. Next I made a carnelian and pearl ring but just with a simple step bezel. The pearl was much higher then the carnelian and I wanted them to be the same height so I added a little step to raise the carnelian.

With the carnelian stone I was able to use the "Formula" to calculate the length of the bezel and step wire needed. Since the carnelian stone is oval, with you calipers measure the width, and add the length, then divide by 2 and you will get the diameter as if it were a round stone. Then take your diameter add the thickness of the sheet bezel and divide by pi (3.14). This will give you the length of your outer bezel. This formula obviously works with round and oval stones but for the above turquoise ring I will admit I had to eye ball it. I haven't found a formula for a rectangle shaped stone yet. For the step wire, take the diameter subtract the thickness of the wire and multiply by pi (3.14) and you will have the length of the step wire needed.

For the last ring I used a prehnite cabochon.  I wanted to solder a leaf to the side of the bezel so I needed a raised bezel. I needed a step wire for the pearl because it has a round bottom instead of a flat one. The step bezel will help it not rock when you set it. However in the end I decided against the pearl and will use it in another project.  I also remembered to take a photo of how I set up the step bezel before soldering. Just place the the solder chips on the ledge of the inner step bezel and move the flame around the step bezel and not directly on it. Obviously I used the above formula on this one to calculate the length of the outer bezel and inner step wire.

Here below is the ring shank and the step bezel soldered to the base with a leaf and silver balls. I used a jeweler's saw to cut out the leaf and hammer textured the edges of the leaf. The leaf however is soldered to the base and leans against the side of the bezel. The silver balls are however soldered to the side of the bezel.

In the end I slightly pushed the leaf over the stone. This one will also be hard to let go of.  I think I have over come the step bezel fear. The next technique I want to learn is casting, ha ha.  I just bought a delft clay kit and I am itching to cast some silver!!! Of course I will do my best to blog about the whole casting adventure, stay tuned..........


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