Bezels
by Tammy Honaman, Author, Jewelry-Making Expert and Educator,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Bezels or cabochon settings are a great finding to use when incorporating flat back, undrilled materials, like cabochons or flat back crystals into jewelry. These items are "set" into the bezel securely then the settingl incorporated into your design accordingly. There are a few ways to set an item into a bezel but it is best to understand the bezel construction before getting to that.

Bezels construction consists of a back and a wall (the bezel).

The back supports the object being set and can either be a ''closed back'' or ''open back'' style. Closed back provides a solid surface to rest your object on. An open back style has a rim along the edge that is wide enough to support the object but is predominantly open in the center.

The benefit of an open back style is a lighter weight finding and so that light can shine through your stone or other translucent or transparent material.

The wall or bezel, borders the back and is about 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch higher than the back creating a "cup." The wall is what is used to secure items being set.

When setting a stone or suitable material in a bezel cup, you want the wall to be just a little higher than the edge of the object so when you use bezel setting tools to compress the wall toward the object, it is held securely in place yet is not obscured by too much metal.

In some bezels the wall is more like a lip and only slightly higher than the surface of the back, creating a shallow ''seat.''

For this type of bezel, glue, like 2-part epoxy would be used to secure a component.

Traditionally, bezels are made to calibrated sizes so they match stones that are cut to the same calibrated sizes. This logic makes it is easier to pair a stone to a setting no matter where or when it was purchased, as well as makes it easy to repeat a design. For non-calibrated stones and materials, you can create your own bezels using metal sheet, bezel strip and soldering techniques or using metal clay.

On a good day, I'd be more than happy to make my own bezels. For the other days and when time is short, I keep my eyes peeled for prefabricated bezels that can accommodate non-traditional materials as well as have a dimension that works when designing a piece that includes personal elements, like a photo and a piece of lace from a christening gown.

These particular prefabricated bezels not only allow for the use of nontraditional materials and unlimited creativity, they make it easy to bring flexibility to a design. They are available in three different colored metals (gold, silver and copper) and different shapes and sizes. They have rings already attached to use as a bail and are also available connected to a ring. Their depth allows for lots of "inclusions" which makes the hard part knowing where to start.

Fiber paper was where I started the first design. These new papers provide a great backdrop, help set a tone for the "what" you include as well as work well with ICE Resin®--my method of choice for sealing things in place. Once I got in a groove, the hard part was knowing when to stop--and for me, that was only when I ran out of bezels and had to wait for the next delivery. Single-Strand Necklace with ICE Resin® and Copper Leaf Sheets and Copper Embellishment

On the next round of designs I incorporated sheets of Kato Polyclay™ clear and colored medium liquid into the bezels. I'm out of bezels again and see there are even more shapes to choose from now. Back out I go to wait for the mailman. Pendant with Liquid Kato Polyclay™, ICE Resin® and Copper Leaf Sheets
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