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Soldering Precious Metals

Soldering is one of the most useful techniques a metal smith can have. It is used both to create new pieces and to repair damaged jewelry.

11 Minute Read

What is Soldering?

What a jeweler calls soldering would be called welding, if done using non-precious metals.

The basic procedure calls for taking two pieces of metal to be joined and placing them together. For jewelers, the solder usually consists of the same metal as the jewelry, only as an alloy with a lower melting temperature than the pieces it will bond.

When heated to the sufficient temperature, the metal’s molecules expand, leaving space between them. At this moment, the solder melts and flows into those spaces. When the metal cools, you have one solid piece.

What is Annealing?

Metal gets progressively harder when you work it. This has advantages, such as strengthening the prongs that hold a gem. However, when fabricating a new piece, this can make the metal difficult to work with. In extreme cases, you might even break the piece.

You can make work-hardened metal more malleable again by annealing. This is a simple process. Flux the metal to protect it from fire scale, then heat it with your torch. Heat white gold to a bright red and red gold to a medium red. Other gold alloys and silver should be heated to a dull red….

Donald Clark, CSM IMG

The late Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters “CSM” after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff’s ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book “Modern Faceting, the Easy Way.”

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