More Dimension, More Color: 5 Helpful Things To Know About Bezel Setting Stones on Stones with Michael Boyd
I was super excited when I first saw that we were releasing the Stone on Stone Setting video workshop with Michael Boyd. I’d long been impressed and fascinated by the stone-on-stone work I’d seen by Michael, Jim Dunakin, and other artists, so I couldn’t wait to watch the video and learn all the technique steps and secrets. Here are five helpful tips and technique points I learned about bezel making and setting stones (or metal) on stones from Michael’s video.
1. Michael’s bezel-making technique is a little different from the way many of us are accustomed to making bezels for stones. One handy tip I learned from his technique is to use scissors–specifically Joyce Chen kitchen scissors–for getting a cleaner, perfectly straight cut on bezel wire. I’ve already heard great things about these shears from Queen of Wire Denise Peck; this is another reason to get a pair of these scissors!
2. To help your bezel wire ends be perfectly straight, Michael recommends using a separating disc on a flex shaft (like a flat lap) to sand the ends straight. He prefers this over a hand file, as would I–I always seem to file a curve when I use a hand file.
3. When making bezels for stones, consider the type of jewelry you’re making when you select the metal for the back plate. Michael recommends using a heavier-gauge metal sheet (such as 18) for the back plate of a stone that will be bezel-set in a ring or bracelet, because of the added durability and support that a heavier gauge of metal provides. For earrings, however, he uses the lightest gauge possible. Earrings and pendants don’t need as much support as an easily bumped piece of jewelry like a ring or bracelet would need, so you can create their back plates using a lighter gauge of sheet.
4. For most of his bezel making, Michael uses 22k gold bezel wire paired with a silver back plate. The silver is much less expensive and, in many jewelry designs, it won’t even show. For jewelry pieces that do show the back plate, you’ll have a stylish and versatile bi-metal design that’s right on trend. This is an obviously simple but really clever idea that never occurred to me before!
5. In his video, Michael also shows how to set metal on stone, such as a textured or bicolor mokume gane piece set on a larger cabochon or gemstone slice. It’s an interesting topsy-turvy layered look, and learning to achieve it can help you create more unique jewelry designs. In this case, the stone becomes the bezel and the metal is the focal piece. You’ll even learn to create triple-layered pieces in eye-catching metal and stone combinations.
I love that I learned many helpful pointers and new approaches to making bezels, working with metal, soldering, and more from watching Michael’s video–all things that came as bonus sidebars, in addition to the lesson at hand: setting stones on stones.
In just the few short weeks that it was available, Michael’s Stone on Stone Setting video became one of our best sellers with mostly five-star reviews. Join your fellow jewelry makers and learn these advanced metalsmithing skills with one of the industry’s most proficient teachers!