Professional Jeweler Archive: Setting an Oval Gem in a Partial Bezel

March 2003

Professional Bench/Defining Quality


Setting an Oval Gem in a Partial Bezel

Knowing how to professionally set an oval gem in a partial bezel demonstrates another aspect of quality in your shop


This process features Steece Hermanson setting a 7.5-ct. oval sapphire in a partial bezel. The ring was carved in wax, cast in platinum and set with diamond accents. It’s completely prepolished and ready for the center stone.

Creating the Bearing and Performing the Setting

1. Hermanson fit the sapphire into the setting when carving the wax. The partial bezel wall is 1.1mm thick and the sapphire’s table is even with the top of the partial bezel wall.

2. After casting, prefinishing, polishing and setting the side stones, Hermanson uses a 2mm setting bur to create the finished bearing. There’s minimal contact between the sapphire’s pavilion and the metal at the bearing.

3. After seating the oval sapphire in the bearing, Hermanson relieves the bezel wall using a small 90&Mac251; bearing bur inside the bezel just above the girdle. To provide the best relief, he angles the bur upward. Only 10% of the total wall thickness is removed for the relief cut.

(A) The sapphire fits into the bearing with no gaps, and there’s minimal contact between the pavilion and the bearing.

(B) A small relief cut is burred slightly above the bearing.

(C) The top of the outside bezel wall is lightly filed to create multiple relief cuts by using a #2 file. The direction of filing is parallel with the bezel wall, offering relief from the tiny filing indentations.

4. He places the sapphire into the bearing and begins bending the partial bezel. First he uses a prong pusher with a square face. After he’s satisfied with the overall alignment, he uses the GRS GraverMax with an air-driven impact handpiece and a specially made punch tip. He performs the work under a bench microscope for closer viewing.

Hermanson starts by partially bending the bezel in one corner. Next he partially bends the opposite corner. He moves across to the adjacent portion and finishes by partially bending the opposite corner. Then he partially bends the two central portions. He repeats the process until the metal is fully bent onto the center stone using the same order.

5. To finish the bezel, Hermanson removes all tool and percussion marks and performs the final polishing.

Bench Tip

Bending the bezel over the sapphire causes small working and movement marks on the top of the bezel. Before making the final movement of metal onto the stone, Hermanson uses a tungsten carbide burnisher to smooth the top. Once it’s perfectly flat, even and polished, he performs the final bending.

Procedure Summary

Setting the center stone and finishing and polishing the ring took Hermanson 70 minutes.

– By Mark B. Mann

Technical contributions by JA® Certified Master Bench Jeweler Steece Hermanson
Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC

For questions related to this process, contact Steece Hermanson at shermanson@ftc-i.net or Mark Mann at markbmann@aol.com.

Illustrations by Lainie Mann
©2003 Visual Communications


Setting Oval Gemstones in Partial Bezels

A. No more than 50% of the bezel’s thickness was removed while creating a bearing.

B. The top of the partial bezel is in full contact with the crown of the sapphire and has an angled, flat and highly polished appearance.

C. The partial bezel encases the rounded portion of the oval stone.

D. The partial bezel covers about 10% of the crown height.

E. The bezel and ring have no tool marks, fine scratches or indentations.

Potential Problems to Watch for

The partial bezel is sized insufficiently. It doesn’t wrap enough of the center stone and doesn’t secure it adequately. When bumped during normal wear, this stone will become dislodged.
The partial bezel wall isn’t in full contact with the crown, and lumpy areas are visible. Because the top of the bezel wasn’t polished before it was bent over the stone, it had to be finished and polished after it was bent, and the center stone was damaged in the process.
Too much metal was removed when preparing the bearing and/or too much was removed during the finishing process, making the bezel wall thin and weak. A partial bezel wall this thin won’t hold up during normal wear, and the center stone will become lost.

– by Mark Mann

Illustrations by Lainie Mann
©2003 Visual Communications

This series is sponsored in part by Jewelers of America, (800) 223-0673

Copyright © 2003 by Bond Communications