William Fretz


Articles and Videos by William Fretz:

Tricks for Hollow Rings with Miniature Stakes

Make the inner band the desired size first. 18 or 20 gauge is about right. Next make the bezel or inlay unit if it is an integral part of the design. Cut a paper template of the desired ring shape from stiff paper that fits over the inner band. The top part of the ring pattern should be slightly smaller than the bezel as it will stretch in the forming stages. Use small pieces of tape to hold the paper pattern together.

Handling Stakes and Anvils

Shaping a bezel on stakes is a process of forming the metal by stretching. First the metal is bent with pliers to fit the gem, forming a shape smaller than the stone while following its contour. The gauge of the sheet metal chosen is slightly thicker than the final result. As the process unfolds, the metal is plannished (hammered) on small stakes, causing the metal to conform to the stake as it stretches. If the gemstone and the shape of the stake are the same, a very accurate bezel can be made with a minimum of time. The advantages of this technique become obvious to the craftsperson that uses creatively shaped stones or gems that do not conform to the bezel mandrels on hand.

Making a Bezel

Making a bezel for many stones such as an antique cushion garnet can be difficult when the mandrels on hand do not fit. With the miniature stakes the whole process is quick and easy. The side benefit is that they are more precise than only using pliers or unstable jewelry anvils…