A bezel is a metallic rim which sets or encapsulates jewelry and ornaments, either as a mild protective barrier or allowing attachments to loose gemstones. It is one of the earliest forms of setting gemstones into jewelry. Easily worked by hand or with a small amount of pressure (using a bezel roller), the bezel is thin strips usually consisting of silver, brass, gold, and other soft, pliable metals, the purpose of which can be manipulated with the least amount of effort and also appreciate the item's overall value. Some gemstones, such as diamonds, need no protection with bezel setting, but rather the setting protects surfaces that the diamond may scratch or damage, as opposed to prong setting which exposes the gemstone.
Bezel wire is a single piece of wire that has a much smaller width, and must be stacked or coiled in order to achieve the same purpose as a strip. This gives more options of preference to the wire shape, such as rounded or circular, squared, serrated, or flat-rounded (circular, with a flattened side). The individual wires, though more time-consuming and difficult, give the jeweler more artistic freedom. The advantage of using wires than strips is avoiding the use of solder to join the ends, instead wrapping one length of wire around another to create a coil.
Bezel setting has been associated mostly with jewelry, though it can be applied to almost any object. Cabochon stones are primarily used for bezel setting, their shape having a flat surface that a back-plate can be soldered onto the bezel, securing while faceted stones require grooves into the bezel metal itself.