Bezel Alternatives: 4 Ways to Set Stones (and Shells, Beads, and More) in Wire with Janice Berkebile
Prompted by a large and growing collection of pebbles and sea glass I've found as well as cabochons I purchased in Tucson, I was recently on the hunt for some alternatives to bezels for showing off these treasures. I found my alternative–four of them, in fact–in Janice Berkebile's Easy Wire Stone Capture video tutorial.
"Each of these processes caters to the form of the stone, highlighting it in the best way possible," Janice says. Here's a look at the four methods for "caging" stones with wire that Janice shares in her video along with some tips and a bit of info about each one.
The Orbit Wrap is ideal for stones that are flat or round, as long as they are tip-drilled at the top, either from the front to back or side to side. Large briolettes work perfectly, and I think this technique and the Suspension Spiral would be lovely on chandelier crystals, too.
Because the Orbit Wrap features balled ends on the wire, Janice uses fine silver. You can use sterling as well, it just doesn't make as perfectly balled ends as fine silver does. This wrap design wisely has the bail built into it, so you don't have to create one later. Janice shares a great tip for forming a perfect bail that involves holding your hand and pliers as if you're waving hello to someone in front of you. It might sound awkward at first, but when you see it, you'll get it!
In this project and the others, Janice also shares important information about which parts of the wire to hammer and which not to, as well as when to do it during the process.
This design (above, left) is ideal for long, fairly flat stones that are top drilled from the front to back. The Suspension Spiral design cages the stone with wire that wraps loosely or "floats" around the stone.
For this design, you want to begin with a true circle in the center. Janice shows how to achieve this by squeezing/crimping the very end of the wire between round-nose pliers and turning the end repeatedly, tapering and curving the end into a perfect circle. Once the end is a well-formed circle, the rest will come much more easily and look better in the end, as Janice demonstrates.
Once your spirals are created, be sure to use a wire gauge at least as heavy as the wire you used in the spiral to create the jump ring bail that will hold the spiral and the stone together.
Basketweave Bezels are a little more detailed than Orbit Wrap and Suspension Spiral bezels and are perfect for cabochons (flat back, no holes). You could also use this technique on donut-shaped stones, flat round pebbles, large buttons, poker chips or large coins, fossils, and other similarly-shaped found objects.
This intricate technique uses basketweaving techniques with fine-gauge wire wrapped on a heavier-gauge frame. Janice shows that most stones will have at least a three-wire-thick frame; use four or more for thicker stones, as needed. The frame is woven "in the flat" like peyote bead stitching, so it develops a sort of zigzag appearance. This bezel also has its bail built into the design.
The Enchanted Lantern design uses basketweave-in-the-round weaving techniques to create a wire cage for center-drilled stones of all shapes and sizes, as well as for caging your small found treasures like shells, bells, pearls, large beads, and any other center-hole trinkets that bring you joy.
I can't decide which of these designs I like best, but I believe the Enchanted Lanterns are the most intricate and versatile. Janice demonstrates how you can add small beads or crystals to this design, further adding to the "enchanted" aspect of it. The whimsical pod shape and all those fun curlicues give the impression that something really precious is inside this wire cage.
Do you have standard stones that you want to use in jewelry but don't want to use a traditional bezel? Maybe you have nonstandard stones and other found objects that you want to use in jewelry but that are too irregular to fit in a standard bezel? Or maybe you just prefer the look of wire on your pendants? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, you'll love knowing how to create the four alternative stone settings that Janice shares in her five-star-rated Easy Wire Stone Capture: 4 Alternative Ways to Set Stones with Janice Berkebile DVD (also available as an instant download video).