Jewelry Making Tips: Create Your Own Bezels

21 Mar 2011

The difference in gauge between the bezel and the backplate is an important factor when soldering. Don't fry your bezel! Keep the torch on the thicker backplate until you are teetering on the brink of solder flow. Only then play the flame over those thinner bezel walls, and keep that torch flame moving.
Tammy Jones editor Jewelry Making Daily
Tammy Jones is the
editor of Jewelry Making Daily.

I  remember being shocked when my wonderful metalsmithing teacher told me that we were going to make a bezel next. Bezels are hard, right?

Not that hard, actually. Intimidating, but not impossible. There are many steps involved in making bezels, but like any other new skill, when you break it down into manageable pieces and learn step by step, it's doable. Having a good teacher there to guide you makes all the difference, but that's not practical for everyone. I think the next best thing is being able to watch an expert jewelry maker walk you through the steps in a format that you can control, stop when you want, watch again when you need to, refer back to it for a refresher.

So I fished through our Jewelry Making Daily archives to find a blog of wonderful bezel-making tips by Helen Driggs, goldsmith extraordinaire. In it Helen outlines the steps involved in making a bezel to set a stone in your jewelry design, from fitting the bezel wire around the stone all the way through to setting the stone in the soldered bezel and polishing it to perfection. But once you've learned to make your own bezels, there'll be no stopping you! You can turn just about anything into jewelry, and the limitations of using manufactured bezel mountings will be a thing of the past.

Check out Helen's bezel-making tips to learn what to look for when choosing a stone to set and how to accommodate special stone features. She also shares how to make your own bezel wire (or bezel strip) out of fine silver wire and great torch-control tips.

Helen's bezel-making tips will whet your appetite for making your own custom bezels and expanding your jewelry-making horizons. Don't stop now; order the Metalwork: Making Bezels for Stones and Found Objects DVD by Denise Peck, editor in chief of Step by Step Wire Jewelry, for step-by-step instructions for making bezels in five easy-to-follow lessons. You'll also learn soldering basics and finishing techniques as well as tips for making bezels and jewelry using just about any object. It's a valuable jewelry-making resource that you'll watch and return to watch again and again.

Have you made your own bezels for your jewelry designs? Share your story below and photos of your work in our Gallery!

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Metalwork Making Bezels for Stones and Found Objects with a Micro-Torch DVD

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Master micro-torch soldering basics as you boost your jewelry-making skills and your jewelry collection with these fun techniques for transforming stones, buttons, beads, and more into stunning jewelry.


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funkybeadz wrote
on 28 Apr 2011 8:32 AM

goodinfo - as I have melted quite a few bezels in my time!  You  mention a "2 step" difference in gage between backplate and bezel.   Can you expand on thta with actual gages?    Example:  If my backplate is 18ga - the typical bezel is 26 or 28 gage fine silver.  

TammyJones wrote
on 28 Apr 2011 11:46 AM

Hi funkybeadz, thanks for writing. Do you mean the part on Helen's post, under "The Backplate," where she writes that "the gauge difference between the bezel and the backplate is more than a few steps"? I asked Helen to clarify and here is her response:

No matter what the difference in gauge between the backplate and the bezel, focus the torch on the backplate and allow the heat of the backplate to bring the bezel to solder temperature. Once you perceive both parts are at the right temperature and when the flux goes clear, play the torch around the base of the bezel and tease the -- hopefully by now -- liquid solder around the bezel. Remove the torch as soon as you see the bright line of solder complete itself around the join. A soldering turntable is invaluable for this operation.

distar16 wrote
on 13 Oct 2011 2:18 PM

how can bezel  i fabricate a bezel strip for coin mounting