Once you’ve mastered the many skills involved in creating bead jewelry, you may want to move on to another handy jewelry skill: bezel setting. Bezel setting is a form of metalsmithing that involves mounting diamonds and other gems inside a metal band. Round-cut or rectangular-shaped gems are typically used in a bezel setting.

In a bezel setting, the metal wraps around and covers the majority of the gem. It also extends above it. The only visible part of the gem is the top. The bezel can be made from any metal, although, for diamonds, white gold and platinum are most commonly used.

Jeweler placing bezel set diamond

Bezel settings have many advantages. They are good for covering chips in the gem. Because a bezel setting encircles the gem and keeps it secure, it is ideal for those with active lifestyles. They are also good for protecting soft stones, such as opal, turquoise, fluorite, and apatite. A well-created bezel setting can also be very attractive.

However, bezel settings also cover up much more of the gem than prong settings, which means less shine. That’s the main reason why many people choose prong settings for rings. Because a bezel involves a large piece of custom-made metal, a pre-made bezel setting can be costly. Therefore, the ability to create your own is a great skill to have, especially if you eventually want to turn your love of jewelry making into a profitable business.

If you enjoy creating your own jewelry and want to add odd items such as river rocks into your creations, then you need to learn the art of bezel setting. It’s time-consuming and requires a lot of materials, but the time and money you invest into this skill will be well worth it when you create a unique piece of jewelry.

Tools of the Trade

Before you begin your bezel setting journey, you need to make sure you have the right tools. Here are the supplies to put on your shopping list.

  1. A Dremel tool or drill
  2. Bits and burs
  3. Vice or clamp
  4. Prong-setting pliers
  5. Magnification tool, such as an Optivisor or CraftOptics telescope
  6. Burnishing tool, such as a bezel pusher
  7. Beeswax
  8. Lubricant, such as Burlife

Types of Gemstone Settings

Once you have your gems and tools in place, there are four types of gemstone settings to choose from.

    1. Coronet or crown setting. This is basically the same as a prong setting, which is not typically used for bezel setting.

    1. Bead setting. This is similar to a pavé setting, which places small diamonds together as part of the setting. As a result, you get continuous sparkle.

    1. Tube setting. This type of setting involves the use of a small portion of tubing to create the bezel. This contemporary look gives the stone some height for a cool effect.

    1. Gypsy setting. In a gypsy setting, the gem is flush mount with the metal. This makes the gem look suspended in the metal.

There are also full and partial bezel settings. The full setting covers the circumference of the bevel set gemstone completely. A partial setting covers only a portion of the gem’s edge, offering some degree of safety while allowing you to show off more of your stone.

Bezel set diamond engagement ring

Keys to Success

Precision is the main thing that makes bezel setting a success. There’s no guessing – accuracy is a must. Your measurements must be as precise as possible. You then have to cut a piece of metal that fits those measurements exactly. The bezel must then be carefully attached to the jewelry base, with the gem secured tightly. Not an easy task!

It’s also important to know the Mohs hardness of the gem or item you’re setting. This scale determines the scratch resistance of various gems. For example, diamond is ranked at 10, meaning the hardest, whereas talc and gypsum would be considered soft. Opal is also considered soft and should be used with caution.

By knowing this information, you can use the right tools to avoid scratches. For soft stones, for example, you can use plastic, copper, or wood as the bezel material.

Varieties of bezel set gemstones

Bezel setting is not the easiest skill to master. It’s tempting to simply buy pre-made bezels in order to save time and reduce headaches. However, once you get the hang of it, you open the door to a whole new world of jewelry-making opportunities.
February 13, 2017 — Arun Yadav
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