Introduction: Double-Sided Bezel Bead
Inspiration for my work comes from many places. This design came from a desire for a long necklace that showcased my enameled cabochons. I knew the weight of an enameled cab would need an equal counterbalance, or the bead would flip over when worn. I conceptualized the double-sided bezel bead, and immediately fabricated a prototype. The first one turned out… wonky. I realized that this simple design has real technical challenges. To effectively execute this design, I would have to emulate my jeweler heroes who demonstrate great precision in their work. I recommend this design to anyone who wants practice at precision in their metalwork.
This double bezel setting is very versatile. It is well-suited to an elegant silver design like the cherry blossom cloisonné, but it also works well in a casual setting. Before tackling the silver beads, I made several copper “practice” beads and created designs using colored leather remnants under pierced silver discs. These beads would also look great with stone, ceramic, resin, or polymer clay cabochons. The sky is the limit!
Step 1: Tools & Materials
- Disc cutter
- Bench shear or Guillotine shear
- Fine metal ruler
- Bench block
- Ring mandrel
- Nylon or rawhide mallet
- Small round file
- Bezel roller or burnisher
- Spinning soldering block (optional)
- 22 gauge argentium silver
- 2mm diameter sterling tubing
- Bezel wire
- 2 round cabs (3/4”) per setting
- Scrap metal with minimum 3” of flat edge
- Painter’s tape
- Hard and medium silver solder; pickle, brass brush
- Thin Sharpie
- 320 grit sandpaper
- 3M sanding sponges
- Plastic gift card/grocery reward card (optional)
Step 2: Cut Out Discs
Decide how many beads you want to make, and cut out that number of 7/8” discs with a disc cutter in 22 gauge argentium silver.
Sand/polish both sides of the discs with 3M sanding sponges to desired finish.
Step 3: Line Up Discs
Take a piece of scrap metal with a flat edge. Align it to the flat edge of a bench block on a flat surface.
Line up the discs on the edge of the scrap metal up against the bench block, directly next to each other.
Cut 2 long, thin strips of painters tape and tape down. Leave the upper, lower, and middle section of the discs bare (see photo).
Remove the bench block.
Step 4: Scribe a Center Line Across Discs
Using a fine metal ruler as your guide, set your dividers to 7/16” width. Bring the dividers to the taped discs. The bottom edge of the scrap metal will be the guide for the dividers to mark the center line of the discs. Hold the dividers in position and make a little mark in the center of one of the discs, then flip the dividers over and hold them against the top of the disc, making sure the mark is truly centered. If not, make adjustments until the dividers are exactly centered on the disc.
Using the dividers, scribe a line that marks the diameter across all the discs.
Step 5: Scribe Lines for Guiding the Bench Shear
Using the metal ruler again, set your divider to exactly 1mm width longer, or exactly half the width of the outside diameter of tubing you are using. I am using 2mm tubing.
Using the scribed center line as your guide, scribe another line exactly 1mm above the center line (see photo). Set dividers again to scribe exactly 1mm below the center line. The marks are most important at the points that intersect the edges of the disc, because these are your guide points for the next step.
Step 6: Cut Discs With Bench Shear; Sand and Measure
Using a bench shear or guillotine shear, cut each disc exactly along each of the outside lines (removing the center 2mm wide strip).
Put 320 grit sandpaper on a flat surface and rub the cut edge of each half disc until smooth. Using calipers, measure the height from the center of the cut edge, to the highest part of the arch. It should be very close to 10mm (within 0.15 tolerance). If one side is too tall, sand the flat edge until it is the correct height. If one side is shorter than 9.85mm, cut a new disc and start again.
Cut tubing 1 inch length.
Step 7: Soldering
You need to stage your components for soldering. The two semi-circles need to be pressed on either side of the tubing and centered so that when viewed sideways, the circle of the tube is centered exactly between the 2 flat planes of the semi-circles (see graphic). You can do this by either propping up the 2 semi-circles to the correct height (24 gauge scrap metal will elevate the semi-circles to the correct height), or by carving a shallow ditch in a soft soldering block for the tubing to sit half-way below the surface. After accidentally soldering my piece onto the scrap silver propping up my piece, I did the carving method.
Flux the 2 disc halves and tubing and place together for soldering. Look directly over the top of the setup and focus on the disc edges around the tubing. Make sure the discs are properly aligned with each other. Look at it from the horizontal viewpoint at one end of the tubing and make sure the tube is centered and the 2 halves are centered and aligned (see graphic). Check again from the other end of the tubing. A spinning soldering block helps!
Place 3 pieces of hard solder (or medium-hard argentium solder) along EACH side of the tubing (6 pieces total). Solder, pickle, and brass brush the piece.
Step 8: Prepare 2 Matching Bezels
Wrap bezel wire around circular cab. Measure and cut. Wrap it again to verify the sizing is correct.
Cut a second piece of bezel wire to exactly match the length of the first. Measure with a ruler and make a note of the length, in case you must make a replacement later in the process. My enameled discs required a 60mm bezel wire.
Solder both bezels closed with hard solder. Pickle, rinse, brass brush.
Step 9: True the Bezels
True up the bezels on a ring mandrel with a rawhide or nylon mallet.
Stack the bezels on top of each other to verify they are the same size. Sand flat one side of each bezel with 320 grit sandpaper.
Step 10: File First Groove in the Bezel to Accommodate the Center Tube
On the solder line and on the sanded flat side, use a round file to make a groove. The groove needs to match the outline of the tubing on the setting. File and fit, file and fit (see photo). Once it is the correct profile and fitting properly around the center tube, true up the bezel on a ring mandrel.
Step 11: File the Second Groove on the Opposite Side of the Bezel
Place the bezel on the disc/tube setting. Look down at it, adjust to place bezel exactly in the center. You may want to use the assistance of calipers, ruler, and/or dividers. Holding it securely in place; use a thin Sharpie to mark where the center of the tube meets the other side of the bezel (see photo).
Use the round file to make a second groove on the bezel according to the Sharpie mark. File and fit, file and fit, to get it exact. You may need to true the bezel on the ring mandrel several more times during this process, to make sure you are filing in the proper place. Once it fits perfectly, true the bezel one last time, and check the fit one last time.
Step 12: Solder the First Bezel Onto Disc
Flux the disc and one bezel, then prop the disc on the soldering board for stability (see photo). Using medium solder, solder the bezel into place pressing down with the solder pick to ensure full contact. Pickle, rinse, brass brush.
Put 320 grit sandpaper on flat surface, rub top of bezel in circular motion until surface is smooth and even.
Step 13: Repeat Steps 10 & 11 for Second Bezel
File grooves into second, matching bezel. Once you have a perfect fit, you are ready for the next soldering step.
Step 14: Solder Second Bezel on Other-side of Disc
Place setting bezel-side down on soldering block. Flux disc setting and second bezel, and place together. View from top-down and then multiple side-views (rotating the soldering block) to ensure the second bezel is precisely aligned with the first bezel, and centered on the disc (see photo).
Using medium solder, solder bezel into place pressing down with the solder pick to ensure full contact. Pickle, rinse, brass brush.
PLEASE SEE GRAPHIC – This illustrates misalignments to look for and correct before performing all soldering steps
Step 15: Sand Top of Bezels; File Tube Ends
Put 320 grit sandpaper on flat surface, rub second bezel in circular motion until surface is smooth and even.
Carefully file ends of tubing to match circular curve. I like my ends to be slightly longer than the edge of the disc.
Clean up setting with 3M sanding sponges to desired finish. I end with 600 grit.
Step 16: Raise Cabochons to Proper Height (if Needed)
Use disc cutter to cut old plastic grocery rewards or gift cards into two ½ inch discs. With scissors, cut each disc in half. Place one half on each side of center tube.
Step 17: Set the Cabochons
Place object to be captured on top of plastic spacers. Close bezel with bezel roller or burnisher. Do any final polishing/touch-up. Now you are ready to string your bead!