Show Off Your Cabochons

Leslie Rogalski Working with cabochons

I used to have something called a worry stone. It was a small polished stone with a smooth indentation, offering a tactile path to serenity, like a kid who rubs the satin on a comfort blankie. I have the same sense of  “ahhhh” when I touch a shiny cabochon. Made of stone, glass, gemstone, or other materials, cabochons usually have no holes. They’re level on one side and domed to some extent on the other and come every shape and size you can imagine.

Bezels are the rims that hold a cabochon or other focal piece in place. I know many of you have already made pendants with wire or metal, enclosing stones, shells, even buttons. Some of you have even used metal techniques such as prongs to hold a special stone in design. I haven’t ventured too far into metalsmithing myself yet, but I am such a fan of cabochons in jewelry––whether rings, pins, or pendants, cabochons can be showcased in beadwork, wirework, even clay, as well as metalsmithing.

glass cabochons

Jeff Barber is a lampwork artist known for his beads but who also makes glass cabochons such as these with their striking swirls of pattern and color. And look, a couple have beaded bezels.

The Entangled Wire Bezel by Lisa Niven Kelly shows the adaptability and texture of wire for different-shaped focal cabs.


metal bezel

Editor Helen Driggs shows an unusual approach to a metal bezel in her Carrasite and Copper pendant. Her bezel plays around the shape of the focal piece.

Bead a cabochon pendant
Here’s one of the ways I incorporate a cabochon as a beader: I use circular netting because it allows more of the focal to show than if I covered its sides with a more solid beadwork stitch. It's more a cage than a bezel. Use a symmetrical round or oval shape for your first go at this. Shown here: a 35mm black tigereye cabochon, beading thread, and two sizes of beads: size 11˚ seed beads and 3mm round crystals.

1: On a comfortable length of thread, string a circle alternating 1 crystal and 1 seed bead, to form a ring that will fit on top of your cab but well within the perimeter, leaving about ¼" around the edge. My ring uses 18 crystals and 18 seed beads. Tie the tail and the working thread securely.

2: Form a starburst of picot points around this ring: string 3 seed beads, 1 crystal, and 1 seed bead. Pass back through the crystal. String 3 seed beads. Skip 1 crystal in the ring and pass through the next, forming a point. Repeat for 9 points around the circle.

3: Exit the 3 seed beads, the crystal, and the tip seed bead in one of the picot points.

4: Work another round of netting, looping between the tip seed beads of the picot points: string 10 seed beads,1 crystal and 10 seed beads. Pass through the next tip seed bead. Repeat to form 9 large loops.

5: When you return to the first loop, pass through the first 10 seed beads and the crystal in the center of the loop. Lay the cabochon face down inside this netted circle.

6: String twice through all the center crystals for a secure circle, pulling them into a snug ring in the middle of the back of the cabochon. And yes, you can wear this side facing out!

  7: For a bail, exit near the top of one of the back strands of seed beads. I used 2-drop square stitch to form a strip and joined it to a bead at the front of the cabochon.

Learn to bezel with the best
If I were working in metal, I’d be at my bench instantly after seeing the 10 Cabochon Pendant Jewelry Projects eBook from Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.  These designs are so unique and the stones and gems so gorgeous, I get goose granulations all over just looking at them! See if you don’t, too.

Have you found a way to wear a fabulous cabochon? Share it on our Beading Daily galleries!


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