Part 3 15 August 2012

My challenge for last weekend was to jump in the deep end and solder bezel settings onto rings. I had done some practice soldering rings from copper but hadn't tried using more expensive metal so I started off my adventure using 8g half round sterling silver wire and made a number of rings for myself.

What I really wanted to do though was solder a bezel setting onto a ring. I had a few purchased bezel settings so I thought I would prefer to ruin them rather than mine that took me hours to make!!!!!! I had done quite a bit of reading and watching YouTube videos on the subject but still wan't that clear about how I should proceed so I just jumped in knowing I might waste a bit of silver along the way. I had also recently purchase a "third hand" so was keen to try it out.

Here is the first attempt. I filed the top of the ring flat so that the bezel setting would sit steadily on it. After placing guide lines on the bezel setting using a Sharpie, I fluxed it, then placed it face down on the fire brick. The ring was fluxed then placed in the third hand so that it sat between the lines on the bezel setting. I placed a piece of easy solder where the ring shank came in contact with the bezel setting and heated the whole piece from the other side. Solder travels towards the heat so I was hoping the solder would run, then disappear under the ring shank to the other side. Happily it did with very little cleaning up needed.

So here is my very first ring with a bezel setting. The stone is labradorite. If you look closely you might see a small hole in the back of the bezel setting. Lexi Erickson advises drilling this small hole so that the cabochon can be removed if need be. That small hole has saved me already. Several times I have gotten very excited and put the stone in the setting then suddenly realized that I had forgotten to do something or the ring needed a little more sanding. The biggest challenge for me was positioning the ring shank in exactly the right position on the bezel setting.

The next ring was a smaller setting with an amethyst stone positioned horizontally on the ring shank. I was much happier with the placement of this bezel setting.

I started to feel a bit more confident about the process and excited about the possibilities. It was time to make my own bezel setting. I chose a 10mm round piece of malachite. Malachite is a solf stone, every easy to scratch so I had to take special care. For added interest and to try another skill, I fused a twisted piece of argentium silver around the edge of the bezel setting.

My fingers seem to go up and down in size depending on temperature, time of day etc. Layering the rings holds the malachite ring secure and central on a 'thin' day and on a 'fat' day I can wear it on its own :)

So what did I learn?

1. Take a lot of time measuring and placement before soldering the setting onto the ring shank.

2. 12g wire once annealed can be easily formed into a ring shape with fingers. Much easier than shaping around ring mandrel with rawhide hammer.