How to make a bezel set opal pendant.
The first thing I need is some bezel wire and as today I have run out I’ll need to make some more. This is a time consuming task. I often buy bezel wire but as I am not always happy in the quality I get from a goldsmith I tend to make it. Also, the gold merchant has only two sizes 3mm x 0.3mm and 5mm x 0.3mm. Sometimes I like thick bezels that I can cut down and file to shape.
Step one is to get some scrap metal left from castings that I have not used or ones that have failed and also bits of cut up scrap. I do not use any old rings or pieces which might have impurities in them.
I am going to melt this gold down in a crucible with a mixture of propane gas and oxygen using a large torch specially bought for this purpose.
I put a pinch of borax powder on the metal so that it will flow. Once the gold has melted and is the correct temperature I pour it into a mould which will make it into an ingot that resembles a big nail. When I am pouring I keep the gold hot with the torch.
Once it has been poured I open the mould and take the gold out and quench it in water.
I then anneal the metal. This means that I heat it to a cherry red colour with a bushy blue/yellow flame and then I quench it again. This will happen many, many times as the metal needs to be brought back to its original state.
When you hammer or squash metal it gets hard and brittle. This is called work hardening. It makes the metal unworkable so I need to anneal it and bring it back to its correct form.
I now pass the gold through a rolling mill. When the metal gets about half its thickness I need to anneal it again. Eventually what stated off as a piece of metal about 100mm long will be around a metre long and will be ideal to use as bezel wire.
Now I have some bezel wire and I wrap it around the opal. I get the rough shape and the size is nearly perfect. It has taken me a long time to be able to guess where I need to cut the wire to make it the right size. Next I solder this together with hard solder.
I now put this on a steel mandrel and with a rawhide or bounceless hammer I hammer it to the correct shape and the opal fits snugly into the bezel.
The next step is to solder it to a piece of plate which I will show next time.