Congratulations to our latest Student of the Week- Andy Mendell. Just because our work at JAI is based on ancient jewelry doesn’t mean we aren’t crazy about faceted stones. I’m sure if the ancient Greeks and Romans had the technology to cut faceted stones, they would have used them. We usually bezel set our faceted stones and the students often find this tricky. I thought I would go over some tips to smooth the process.
The first really key element is getting the height of your bezel right. In setting cabochons one third of the stone goes in the bezel and two thirds of it stick out. Taking into account that and whatever is going around the bezel, as long as you don’t go nuts and make a 1mm high bezel you will usually come out all right. A fa ceted stone has no leeway, it is either high enough when you go to set or you have to scrap your whole piece. Maybe a few of you are thinking, why couldn’t I just drill a hole in the backsheet if I don’t leave enough height? If the piece is a ring or pendant that would mean that small pointed culet is poking you in the finger or neck. Ouch! Also the light will leak through the stone (except for a diamond) and out the back, greatly diminishing it’s beauty. The last reason not to do this is that when you look at a piece that this has been done to it just screams, lousy execution!
To get the correct height you take a pair of dividers and measure the stone from culet to table. When the stone is set the bezel will only cover to the girdle. The extra height you are including from girdle to table is the height that insures the culet will be held in the air by the inner bezel and not touch the backsheet. The only other thing you must consider is your fusing skills. If you are still in the refining your skills phase, you may have noticed that when you fuse your bezels they melt a bit at the edges and you can lose a little height this way. Just make sure that you give yourself enough extra so that by the time you are done fusing and sanding the bezel level you have the height of the stone from culet to table left. Often I find with students that I may spend just as much time explaining what not to do and why as I spend explaining what to do. I think understanding the “why?” and the “why not?” is equally important to master the process. Andy clearly grasped both concepts in finishing this piece and I salute her efforts. Well Done!