Bezel Setting a Hexagonal Faceted Stone in a Custom Made 14k White Gold Ring
Bezel setting stones with sharp corners always makes my heart race, partly from nervousness, partly from the thrill of the challenge. One measure that allows me to move forward with confidence is preparing the bezel for maximum protection of those delicate corners. This is especially useful for brittle materials, thin girdles, and unusual cuts in softer stones such as this faceted hexagonal lapis lazuli being set into 14k white gold.
Using a 1mm ball bur, I created a hollow where the sharp corners will reside, only removing metal from the very tip and what will eventually be the upper portion, while making sure that the bottom support remains unaltered. This allows for the metal to be pushed over to the crown without direct pressure being placed on the corners. The metal then can be worked flush and inline with the adjacent sides of the bezel.
It's essential to go slowly, only removing enough metal to make a slight hollow. Going too far means running the risk of over-thinning the metal, possibly exposing a hole during the finishing process. I use the slow speed Foredom motor for this step.
When closing the bezel around an angular stone, the most important thing is to make sure that I have properly annealed the metal. When in doubt, I give it flick with my fingernail and listen for that unmistakable “dead” sound. This is of primary importance when working with low karat, springy alloys such as 14k white gold.
Using the hammer handpiece, again, with the slow speed Foredom motor, I work on opposing corners first, stopping short of completely flush. Then, I close the center of each straight side, alternating between opposite sides. Going back to the corners, I work each side of the point, moving toward the center of the straight sides, but still not closing completely.
Finally, I close the bezel completely flush to the stone by working from the center of a side out toward the corners. For a stone with longer and fewer sides than this hexagonal cut, it's often beneficial to split the difference between the center of the side and the corner, and work these areas independently as an additional step.
Once the stone is nice and secure, I go back to the corners and work them to match the height and angle of the bezel's sides.
Every custom designed piece of jewelry seems to call for a slight variation in technique, but this general process consistently produces clean, even, and secure handmade bezel settings for challenging faceted cuts.