Daily Wire Tip Jan. 14: Cabochons for Wire Wrapping

By on January 13, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
January 14, 2011


Hi Dale, I’ve got your book and am ready to order a cab or two to practice. Is there a difference between cabs for wire wrapping and those that are glued in a bezel? Also is there a particular size you recommend for a novice to begin using? Thanks for your help.

-Sandra in Lancaster, South Carolina


Yes, Sandra, sometimes there is a difference in the cabochons meant for bezel setting and those used in wire wrapping. Cabs made for bezel setting often have a special backing on them that is meant to heighten the stone, as this backing will be hidden within the setting. This is most often done on more expensive and/or fragile stones, mainly used in bezel ring settings, keeping the stone’s cost down and/or adding security to a fragile stone. Although they can also be used in wire wrapping, I prefer to have the natural stone back showing.

When teaching beginning wirework in person, I prefer to teach on larger stones so my student can see what they are doing. The choice is yours!

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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  1. avatar

    Jane Elizabeth

    January 14, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Sandra when I first started wrapping I found that the larger the cab the better for the reasons Dale mentioned… you have to be able to see what your doing! It also helps in hanging onto the cab! ;-)

  2. avatar


    January 14, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Another thing to consider is the type of cab… some stones (like Malachite) are beautiful, but very soft. They scratch easily and it could make your first few attempts frustrating. Give yourself as many breaks as you can, so you can enjoy creating!!

  3. avatar


    January 14, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    As a slightly advanced Beginneer, I found the smaller stones more difficult to hold and also to form the wire in place. To practice I used craft wire to keep my cost down. The half hard wire is much les forgiving if you don’t get it placed just where you want it. I am learning from some of your earlier DVD’s. I botch some of my pieces but have gotten some very nice compliments on them also. Your instructions are very easy to follow and i go back to them often for reference. Thank you for what you do.

    • avatar


      January 15, 2011 at 10:50 am

      Thanks so much Ila, for your kind comments regarding my teaching style. When I began wire wrapping there was very little instructional information available and what was out there was often confusing–as if people wanted to make money for ‘teaching’ but really didn’t want to tell anyone what seemed to be the secrets of the pyramids. My desire was to set the bar for instructors higher, causing folks to really push the limits of wire design. I am so pleased that I have been able to uncover some of these mysteries for you and so many others : )

  4. avatar

    Jim Harkins

    August 26, 2014 at 5:38 am

    Just a few thoughts to add to the mix. For classes at our local lapidary club, we always start the group of with larger (40×30) cabs, and they have their choice of mounting their projects in either a prong or bezel setting. They can cement their stones in the setting for the first effort, but they are encouraged to size their stones carefully, and are always prouder of something they can set firmly in a bezel without using any adhesive. Whether prong- or bezel-set, I make sure they use an open backed setting, and I have them finish the backs of the cabs, too. They earn their praise, and I always insist that they are their own worst critics — if they please themselves, they are well onm their way to pleasing others!

  5. avatar

    Roselyn Archambault

    January 5, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    I’d like to buy a dvd specifically on flat wire wrapping rings which one of Dale Armstongs should I get first?