This is a great project to try as a beginner’s introduction to fabricating your own simple bezel stone setting, soldering and making a ring!
This tutorial is for a sterling silver D wire ring with a 5mm round bezel set cabochon but the techniques and process are transferable to other size and shape cabochons and ring wire. This ring design is perfect for wearing as stacking rings and looks amazing with lots stacked up together, so the possibilities are endless.
I'm a fire loving Aries metalsmith jeweller based in a lovely little town in Devon. Playing with gemstones. fire, fusing, melting and soldering are my favourite parts of creating jewellery. I'm bit of a gemstone hoarder and love working with all sorts of beautiful natural gemstones especially opals!
You can find our more about Oonagh and her beautiful handmade jewellery in our 'Meet The Jeweller' interview series.
Using a ring sizer, measure your chosen ring size and mark the length of wire you need with a scribe.
Shape your wire into a rough circle using either pliers, a triblet and hammer or if it’s thin wire you might find it easy enough to manipulate it by hand. You want to make sure the ends are flush together with no light shining through when held up to the light.
Flux the join and place a piece of hard solder on it. Using a gas torch start by heating the whole ring equally, keeping the flame moving in circles until the flux bubbles and burns away then focus more of the heat on the join (still keeping the torch moving) until the solder flows sealing the join. Quench the ring in water.
Choose your stone, for this I will be choosing a lovely little 5mm round Chinese spider web matrix turquoise cabochon. Measure the depth your bezel needs to be by using a calliper gauge to measure from the bottom to just above the curve on the top of the cabochon.
Use the depth measurement to mark along your 0.3mm sterling silver sheet. Use shears to cut a length longer than you think you will need to go round the perimeter of your stone.
Make sure the ends of your bezel line up perfectly with no gap. Flux and place hard solder on the join on outside of the bezel, using your torch slowly heat the whole bezel until the solder flows along the complete join. Quench in water.
File away any excess solder (careful not to file the bezel too thin).
Flatten the ends of the bezel of a flat surface using either emery paper or an emery stick.
Place your bezel on a small piece of 0.5mm sterling silver sheet a little bigger than the bezel to make heating it evenly easier. Flux all around the join between the bezel and back plate sheet and place a few pieces of hard solder on the inside of the bezel at the base.
With your torch circle the flame around the outside, focusing the heat on the back plate then when you see that start to heat the a ‘warmer’ colour start moving the flame in circles over the whole setting, until the solder flows around the bezel. Quench in water.
Use a flat file and then wet and dry sanding sheets (or emery stick) to clean up all around the outside and the base of the setting.
Flux the contact point between the band and setting then place a piece of easy solder either side of where the ring meets the setting.
The setting is smaller so will heat a lot faster so slowly heat the ring band first until the flux burns away and the band starts to turn a ‘warmer’ colour. Then circle the flame over the whole band and setting until the solder flows around the contact point.
Soak in safety pickle until the whole ring turns white (about an hour in warm pickle). Remove from the pickle bath using plastic tweezers and rinse in clean water.
Clean up any marks left inside and outside of your ring using wet and dry sanding sheets or emery stick.
Pop it in the barrel polishing machine for about one hour then rinse and dry.
Check the fit of your stone in your setting by putting some dental floss across the setting then test your stone in it (the floss makes removing the stone easier). If your setting is too tall just take the stone out and use emery paper/stick to sand it down a little.
Now you’re ready to set your stone! Place your ring in a ring clamp and tighten it up. Place the stone into the setting making sure it’s firmly pushed all the way in. With a bezel rocker or pusher start pushing the bezel wall in over the edges of the stone - start by pushing in the opposite corners (NE, SW, SE then NW and so on) then work your way evenly around the setting until it is flush to the stone and your stone doesn’t move at all.
Using the rotary tool with the felt tip/bit carefully re-polish around the edges of the setting.
A lovely simple ring with a bezel set stone, design customisable with any shape/size band and stones!