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A bezel setting is a method of securing a stone onto a piece of jewelry. The bezel setting is probably the oldest setting for stones, and it is somewhat amazing to consider that this simple and versatile setting has been in use for thousands of years. A bezel setting consists simply of a band of metal wrapped around the stone to hold it in place. Numerous examples of bezel settings can be seen in jewelry stores, and if you want to see ancient bezels in active use, many museums have a section of old jewelry which will often include bezel-set stones.
There are a number of advantages to the bezel setting. In the first place, it is one of the most secure possible settings for a stone, as when it is well-made, it will keep the gem firmly in place without the risk of loss. A bezel setting also protects the stone from nicks and dirt, and this setting can be used in a wide variety of ways, making it extremely versatile. Many people think of bezel settings as sleek, with clean, smooth lines, making them popular in modern jewelry design.
In addition to a full bezel, gems can also be set in a partial bezel. As the name suggests, a partial bezel is made from several strips of metal which are wrapped partway around a gem, allowing some of the side to be visible. Bezels can also be combined with other settings in complex jewelry to meet a variety of needs.
Making a bezel setting is fairly straightforward, although the details of the setting can get tricky. The jeweler cuts a piece of metal of the desired thickness and height and solders it together before inserting the gem and wrapping the edges of the bezel over the stone, essentially enfolding the stone in a tight metal pocket. Many bezel settings are designed to be flush with the surface of the ring, creating a low profile for the stone, which can be an advantage for active people who do not want to risk damage to their jewelry.
There are a number of things to look for when inspecting a bezel setting to make sure that it is of good quality. The first thing to check is the stability of the stone. The stone should not wiggle or give at all in the setting; if it does, the bezel is loose, and you risk losing the stone. If the stone is faceted, the facets should be aligned with the design of the jewelry. The stone should be even and level, as should the material used to make the bezel, and you should check for damage to the stone as well.