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Introduction to Faux Bezels
Bezels add a new dimension to jewelry making. If you have worked with bezels in the past, you are familiar with traditional bezels. Faux bezels create a contemporary look, do not require pre purchased wire and are typically easier to solder to the base. The negatives are that you are reliant on adhesives and you have less give in the fit.
If you can part with tradition of not using adhesives and realize that once the stone is set that is where it stays, you should explore faux bezels.
The bezel strip is cut from sheet metal. You may use a thin to a very thick gauge and can choose the height that suits you. For instance, a bezel of 18-gauge silver, that is taller than your black cabochon or round onyx stone, can be very attractive.
Painterís tape is used to make your bezel strip pattern. The length of the strip will be the circumference of your stone, plus 3 times the thickness of your gauge metal. Using a thin strip of painters tape, wrap your tape around the bezel. Use an exacto knife and cut the tape so the ends are flush. Lay the tape on your sheet and add 3 times the thickness of your metal gauge. For instance, if you are using 20 gauge metal, cut three small pieces and stack them on top of each other. You now have three layers of thickness. This thickness is the measurement you will add to the end of your tape.
The bezel height is determined after you measure the height of your stone with dividers. Your height may be the same as the stone or higher, this is your preference. This will be the width of your bezel strip.
Place the tape on the metal and use a scribe to mark the bezel's height. You now have the pattern for your bezel strip. Cut out the bezel strip. Now cut out the base, making it slightly larger around than your stone.
Sand both ends of the bezel strip so they come together flush. Shape the bezel strip, with ends together and solder closed with hard solder. Using a third hand to hold the bezel will keep your bezel stable while you focus on the soldering. Pickle, rinse and dry the bezel strip.
Fit your Bezel. Bezels for round or oval stones can simply be slid around the stone when using thinner gauges. Thicker gauges require shaping on a mandrel or by hand. If your stone has angles will need to do the final shaping with nylon jawed pliers.
Once you have the correct fit, sand one edge of the bezel flush on a piece of coarse sandpaper. If you have difficulty getting the piece flush, you may want to use a hand file. When your bezel sits flush, file the inside seam to smooth out any solder.
Now test your fit once more using dental floss wrapped around the stone to help remove it from the bezel setting. Remove your stone and solder your bezel onto your metal base. Place them on a soldering screen and tripod. Flux the base and bezel, placing the bezel's flush side down on the base. Place your medium solder around the outside of the bezel, where it meets the base metal. Using your torch, solder the bezel to the base. Pickle, rinse and dry the bezel.
Saw cut away your base sheet, as closely as you can to the bezel edge. File and sand where the base meets the bezel. Sand the top edges of the bezel so that it is flush.
At this point, add any other elements you wish to solder to your piece, such as a bail or an ornamental element. Finish the top and edges to your desired finish, using sandpaper, brass brush or your choice of polishing compound.
Glue your stone in place. Mix equal amounts from your 2 part "330 Epoxy" on a piece of foil or wax paper and carefully apply to the inside of your setting. A piece of wire or a toothpick work well to pick up and place the epoxy. Place your stone in the bezel and let dry.
There are many other techniques for faux bezels. Tabbed bezels and back set bezels are just a few more methods for making basic faux bezels. Watch for articles further exploring bezel setting.
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