Metalsmithing - learning to set a bezel story.

rhodolite garnet cabochonAs some of you may know I am just learning to expand in the craft of metalsmithing after all these years of beading. I have been making and hand forging my own earwires for dangles, but recently, I actually made some post earrings! The key here for me, is learning how to set a cabochon in a tiny 6mm sterling silver bezel .

Okay well...this is tricky folks. I will tell you that this is not exactly what I thought it was. It is really much harder then it looks. You have to apply a tremendous amount of pressure with a rolling action onto this tiny tiny set up ...without bending the earring post in half. I have been using my vise to securely clamp the earring, but I feel like I am going to break the whole thing!

It does come with a bit of practice and I finally get how to do this. But, the trick is really how the cabochon fits. Even if it fits, it maybe too tall and the bezel wall will not secure itself around the cab correctly. It really makes you think in terms of architecture and structural engineering. So the bottom line is, not all 6mm cabochons are going to work in those pre-made commercial bezels. You simply have to make your own if your gonna want to use that particular cab.

antique cushion faceted labradorite cabochonSo, I decide to try to make my own bezel. Now please don't laugh ..yet! I have no formal training and I only own one book here " The Complete MetalSmith". It took me literally four tries to make this bezel for this ring, and to me it still does not look right. Oh gosh, yes, I am so frustrated! The bezel wall is probably too high here and therefore it cinched around the stone! Although I must say, this baby is not going anywhere. That gemstone is firmly secured in this setting. ( I say this proudly, because a lot of my smaller practice settings have this tiny rock to them. It drives me crazy!)

Maybe I should have tried a more simpler round bezel, but instead since my patience is not my virtue and I assume that I can make this happen no matter what. I simply go for the harder piece in trying to set a antique cushion cut labradorite gemstone.

So, I show this thing ( the ring above) to my husband and he giggles..yes giggles. And, because I wasted so much silver and it's price is going up like crazy I really want to scream...yes scream! But instead, I just start laughing really hard! I guess its better then throwing a tantrum. Geez, have you ever felt this way? I tell you that I love a challenge, and learning to metalsmith has its moments. I hope I can do this, I do.

faceted labradorite cabochon
This ring is not complete yet. I just needed to blog about it, to relieve my stress! It actually wears really nice and it is quite pretty in its own unique way. It really appears handmade which I think is the beauty of this whole thing. I mean, why am I trying to make everything look machine made. Whats the point here?

But, back to the ring. I am contemplating if I should list this in my shop. It would make a pretty cocktail ring. The photo's of this are not that great. I am thinking of darkening the silver and polishing it after for that aged look. I will have to see after that.

prehnite cabochonAnd then I also recently made this prehnite simple ring. It will be added to one of my stacking ring sets soon. It came out nicely as planned.

Thanks for letting me share my work and ventures with metalsmithing. Any comments, advice or tips are highly appreciated. Have a great day!

30 comments:

Metallo Bianco Jewelry said...

Great job on the earrings!...practice makes perfect! :) And I love the last ring..for the stack rings..I LOVE stack rings!

Tamara said...

It looks like you're using a pretty heavy bezel on that labradorite ring - the heavier the bezel, the harder it is to set. I know some people really like the look of a thicker wall, but I just find it so difficult to work with. Get yourself some 28 gauge bezel wire and you'll be in heaven.

As for the labradorite ring, I think it's very cool - just call it 'rustic' and you're good to go.

Tamara said...

Also, are you using fine or sterling silver bezel wire? Fine silver is softer than sterling, and therefore easier to push over the stone. :-)

Helenes Dreams said...

Hey Tamara! Thanks for the tip. I am using 26g here. I finally realized that the thickness of this bezel wire is too much for this stone. This stone is NOT that tiny..so I have a lot to learn! I will try fine silver 28 gauge now. Off to buy some!
Thanks for checking in. You are truly my greatest inspiration!

Gemheaven said...

I love that ring ~ you can always send it to me for approval ;0)

Cate said...

Hey, lovely work! I'm just starting smithing too (actually made my first simple band ring last night), and I found your blog through your Etsy supply store- looking for cabs to set of course! I'll def be following closely, so thanks for being so open in sharing your learning experience!

Japlish Delights said...

Great job! I'm just starting with setting stones in bezels myself, so I can totally relate to the frustrations that you're going through. But the feeling you get after it's completed is absolutely worth it. I'm going to be posting more of my attempts at bezel work on my blog, so I will definitely share if I come across any good tips or techniques. Best of luck!

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