TIPS AND TECHNIQUES:
SETTING CZ's (Cubic Zirconium)
by Karen Barefield
CZs can add some real sparkle to your beads. There are a number of techniques to prepare and hold them before you get them in your bead. There are also some limitations to the size that can be accommodated in beads, especially when encasing.
Any CZs over the size of 2 mm. cannot be safely encased without cracking the bead. Some of the information indicates that you can safely encase CZs up to 3 mm. without the bead cracking, but this is not universally agreed upon. The inclusions are just too big. You need to use at least grade A and above CZs (according to Kim Miles). I have found that colored CZs are more fragile than white, but even the white will fracture from too much heat. You don’t want them to fracture once you implant them in your bead, because they are very difficult to remove (ask me how I know this). If you want to put big CZs on the surface of your bead, make your indentation where you want it/them to go, and when annealed cold set (a jewelry term for gluing them in) them with jeweler’s epoxy/superglue. I identify CZs that I am going to cold set by trying them in a test bead that I made with a number of different sizes and depths of indentations. I find the size indentation that best fits the CZ I am going to use, and then make a corresponding indentation that size and depth in the bead that I’m making.
Three Techniques for holding stones
1. Place a tiny drop of white (Elmer’s) glue on the flat end of a mandrel and put the flat end of the CZ on it. This may require magnification in order to adequately see the CZ and to get it squarely on the mandrel. Make sure you don’t get the glue too hot when warming the CZ prior to setting, the glue melts and the CZ droops or falls off. After you have set the bead, the remaining glue burns off when you warm the bead. This is a very time intensive technique, but you get a really good shot at setting the CZ perfectly.
2. Put the CZs on a flat surface with the flat end of the stone up. Use a tweezers to pick them up. You may put a marver on a hot plate and put the stones, flat end up, on it to warm them.
3. Make a holding bead with a number of indentations in it just a bit smaller than the CZ so it sits a bit above the surface. Then, put the bead on a hot plate. Use warmed tweezers to pick up the stone when ready to set.
Techniques for setting stones
1. Spot heat the area on the bead your are making and use your tungsten pick to make an indentation where you want to put the CZ. Pick your CZ up with tweezers. You need to warm your tweezers if you already have a warm CZ. Waft the CZ in the flame to slightly warm it and using a pinpoint flame again spot heat the area where you are going to put the CZ.
2. Place the CZ in the indentation pointed end down, and use your tweezers or other tool to gently push it in and make sure that it is straight.
3. Waft the bead in the flame, and gently heat the CZ area so the glass wells up a bit surrounding the CZ to make sure it is securely set.
4 You may put a dot of glass over it if you wish, remember CZ size constraints, and melt in.
5. If encasing encase as usual.
6. Anneal as you usually do.
Although I thought up the bead with depressions for holding the CZs, I must give credit to others for the information they have freely given on CZ setting. Use the search feature for CZ in both Wet Canvas and Lampwork etc. if you want more information. Kim Miles has the CZ tutorial on her website.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/ (Go to Glass Art, then to the Technical Forum)
Enjoy setting CZs to add bling to your beads!