Starting at the end, here’s a finished brooch. It’s made from etched sterling silver with an aquamarine cabachon, a phrenite faceted round stone, and small brilliant cut orange round sapphire.
These three stones have different shapes. The cabachon is flat on the bottom with a smooth, domed too. The other two are cut with a table (flat top), girdle (widest point) and culet (pointy bottom).
The phrenite is fairly large, about 8mm, while the sapphire is only around 2mm in diameter. For the small sapphire, I opted for a tube setting. For the phrenite, I chose to build a step-bezel.
The aquamarine cabachon has the simplest setting, a bezel.
All of the settings employ the same principal: a small lip of metal is pushed over the edge of the stone to secure the stone in place.
Bezel wire is a flat strip of fine silver (or other metals like gold), which soldered into a loop and shaped to fit the stone.
This bezel wire was a bit tall for the aquamarine, so after soldering the ends together, shaping and finishing the outside, I sanded the whole setting down a little more than half a millimeter. The bezel needs to come up to just higher than where the stone begins to taper in.
The step bezel is two concentric circles of bezel wire, where top of the inside ring is lower than the top of the outside ring. Usually a shorter height of bezel wire is used for the inside ring. In this case, I just staggered the two circles.
They fit together perfectly, and when assembled, the faceted phrenite’s girdle will rest on the inside circle. Just as with the simple bezel, I needed to file down the height after soldering.
For the tube setting, I used a heavy walled silver tube. The diameter of the stone’s girdle should be smaller than the outside diameter of the tubing, but larger than the inside diameter.
To get a perfectly flat end on the tubing, I like to use my flex shaft as a mini-lathe: I can spin the end of the tubing flat onto sand paper.
Everything is set to go! I soldered all the settings onto my brooch along with the hardware on the back side of the brooch.
The sapphire’s tube settings needs to have a seat cut: it’s exactly like the step bezel, except instead of building it out of two pieces, I’m going to cut away metal to creat the step. I generally use a hart burr, and remove just enough metal so the table of the stone is flush with the top of the tubing. Although this can be done before soldering the setting in place, I find the tubing hard to hold onto easily, and there’s more risk of melting the edge of the setting during soldering when it’s thin after cutting the seat.
Once all soldering is done, the brooch is cleaned and any finishing work like sanding is done. I set the aquamarine bezel first, and then the phrenite followed by the sapphire. I have four tools to push the tops of the bezels down. For larger settings like the phrenite’s, I use the large rocker to avoid crimping the bezel. On the smaller settings I tend to prefer the small square pusher, which has a nice rounded end.
The other two bezel pushers have tapered points, which are great when there are hard to reach areas.
The process for all three settings is very similar: I use a tool to push one point of the bezel wire down towards the stone. I then move to the opposite side and push that point of the bezel down. I’ll continue moving from opposite sides of the bezel until the entire top edge has been firmly pressed down, and all lumps are burnished our.
Once the top edges of the bezels are pushed over, the stones are secure and I can patina the piece.