Spectac-ular Bezel Setting: How To Make a Spectacle Setting to Show Off 2-D Designs

Make Spectacle Settings to Set Enameled Disks, Mixed-Media Art, Resin Designs, Etched or Patinated Metal Designs, and More

Do you know what a spectacle setting is? I admit I’d never heard of this kind of bezel setting until I saw it in Anastasia Young’s book, The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques, but now that I see it, I realize that I have a necklace that features a similar type of setting (below). I wore it daily for many years after college, never knowing I’d someday be making one similar to it!

spectacle setting

Back to the spectacle setting . . . What’s with the name? “A spectacle setting is used to hold spectacle lenses in position, without chipping the edges,” Anastasia writes. “It consists of a frame with an internal groove for the edge of the lens to sit in, with a cut in it that can be closed with a rivet or screw thread that passes through two small sections of attached tubing.”

The lens in a spectacle setting is held in place by tension, so when used to set your flat jewelry design–such as a metal disk decorated with beautiful patina, stamped messages, enamel, resin and mixed-media art–almost all of the design will be visible. “The closing of the gap exerts a small, but equally distributed, force around the edge of the lens, and reduces the chances of it being chipped or cracked during setting,” Anastasia writes. “Spectacle settings are useful for setting glass, stones, cloisonné work, or metal disks that cannot be soldered, and are not limited to being round in form.”

Anastasia writes that spectacle settings are ideal for making pendants, especially those that have fragile contents like enamel, mica, or glass. You can also double the process to create earrings. Here’s Anastasia’s tutorial on how to create a spectacle setting for an enameled disk (or your own masterpieces), excerpted from The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques.

how to make a spectacle setting

Project photos courtesy of Quarto Publishing.

1. Make two wire rings. They need to be just a bit smaller than the diameter of the enameled disk. Solder the rings closed, then true [round their shape], clean up the solder seam, and solder the two rings together, one on top of the other.

how to make a spectacle setting2. Make a bail or loop to hang the frame, and cut a piece of small-diameter tube, which will form the closure of the setting. Solder the tube and bail on opposite sides of the frame, using easy solder. Use a ball burr the same diameter as the gauge of your metal disk to follow the groove between the two wires, making an even channel.

how to make a spectacle setting3. Clean up and polish the frame. Cut through the wire and tube at its midpoint, and lightly file the cut ends to make them even. Insert the disk and check that it fits, squeezing the setting to close the gap. If the setting is loose, you can file the ends more.

how to make a spectacle setting4. Rivet one end of a wire that is the same gauge as the internal diameter of the tube, and thread it through. Cut, file, and rivet the other end of the wire on the edge of a steel block, using a small punch to spread the end of the wire. A second pair of hands may be useful to hold the piece steady while you are riveting. –AY

If you want your spectacle setting to be interchangeable–or if you just want an easier way–try using a tiny nut and bolt in the tube instead of a rivet. My necklace has threaded ends on the top part of the frame, similar to a bolt that has been cut in half vertically, and the bail screws down over it. It’s very secure but I can swap out the contents easily.

Anastasia Young’s The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques includes 200 pages of jewelry-making techniques, covering everything from sawing and filing, soldering, creating patinas and textures, making findings, piercing and embossing, all the way to etching, casting and mold making, chain making, unique bezel types and ways to set gemstones (like this spectacle setting and others), fold forming, enameling, and inlay.

In addition to all of that, this extensive book includes nearly 100 pages of jewelry history, an inspirational design gallery, studio workspace and jewelry-making tool information, reference guides about gemstone types and shapes, conversion tables and measurements, a jeweler’s glossary, and information for selling and photographing handmade jewelry. It’s a hugely helpful and thorough jewelry-maker’s resource. Get The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques for half off now along with dozens of other books in our Flash Frenzy Sale!

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