Tag Archives: soldering

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 3

smithing – creation of a pair of gemstone and sterling silver earrings

Lots of people like to know the process behind the creations I produce, and I sometimes forget – just because I know how I do this, doesn’t mean everyone does! These lovely dangly gemstone earrings were a wedding gift from my friend and client Natasha to a dear friend of hers.

Natasha found these sparkly amethyst, Rose de France and aquamarine rose cut cabochons in my gemstone collection.

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 1

First I shaped the bezels.  A bezel is the part that goes around the stone and holds it in place on the piece. I take a strip of silver, bend it into shape with my half round pliers, and solder the join. Once the bezels have been immersed in pickle (an acid solution) to remove the buildup of borax and the oxidisation, I rinse and dry them and hammer them into shape with a mallet on my ring mandrel.

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 2

I solder the bezels onto a silver backing plate. After I pickle, file and emery the bezel settings, I check that the stones all fit nicely into their little housings.

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 4

Then it’s time to add some links to join the bezels together. I create the links, line them up and solder them on.

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 5

I add the ear wires. As always, I am amazed that something that looks so unappealing will soon become something beautiful!

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 6

After some more cleaning up, I mount the earrings in sealing wax to hold them still while I set the stones with my engraving ball and chasing hammer.

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 7

After yet more emerying and finishing, the earrings are ready to go off to their new home!

Amethyst, Rose de France and Aquamarine Sterling Silver Earrings

In case you want more, I have written before herehere here and here about my processes. Happy reading!

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

smithing – creation of a freeform gemstone and sterling silver ring

I always love to see behind the scenes of manufacturing – maybe it all stems from that cool crayon factory clip that used to be on Sesame Street? One of my gorgeous clients, Natasha, asked me to use this charoite in a ring for her mum, and her mum was interested to see the work in progress.  I have written before herehere and here about my processes, and I thought you might like to see some more!

Charoite Cabochon

It started with this luscious piece of charoite which Natasha spotted in my gemstone collection.Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction Using a strip of silver and my trusty half round pliers, I made a bezel for the stone.

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

I fitted the stone to a piece of sheet silver.

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

After sawing out the shape of the backing plate, I prepared to solder.

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

After soldering, the silver becomes oxidised and it seems far-fetched that this will ever turn into something beautiful!

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

Some careful measurement, and more bending with my half round pliers, and a ring shank is made.

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

A quick check that the stone fits properly, then I’m ready to solder the shank to the top.

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

The shank is lined up on the top, and soldered firmly in place.

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring Construction

Time for lots of filing and emerying to get the silver ready for the stone to be set.

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring

After plenty of time with my engraving ball and chasing hammer, the finished product!

Charoite and Sterling Silver Ring

 

smithing – creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

It’s always a joy to see other people’s creative techniques. I have written before here and here about the process of silversmithing, and I thought you might like another little insight into this world.

Emerald Green Drusy Agate Oval Cabochon

First, the drusy gemstone (from my never-ending collection!) and a rough design sketch. I’ve already created the bezel (the metal that wraps around the stone) in this picture, bending a straight strip of metal (like the one pictured) around the stone.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

The next step is preparing the backing plate. He’s some sawing and filing in action.

After filing, comes emerying.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

And laying out the component parts to see how it will look. The balls of silver are made by heating some little pieces of silver until they melt – the molten silver naturally gathers up into a sphere. It’s fun stuff!

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

I emery the back of the bezel flat, so that the join between the two pieces of metal will be exact and the solder will flow correctly.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

Then it’s time for a bit of heat.

I love how from this dirty blackened thing comes an object of beauty!

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

Into a solution of sulphuric acid to remove all the oxidization etc.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

While the piece is pickling, I create the bail (the part from which the pendant will hang), and a little plate stamped with my maker’s mark and ‘925’ to show the piece is made from sterling silver.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

Those are soldered onto the piece, then it’s back in the pickle and after that, a rinse off.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

After a good clean-up, with lots of emerying down to a fine grade, I mount the piece on a wax dop so that i can set the stone.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

My engraving ball comes in super-handy here!

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

Some time with my chasing hammer, and the stone is set.

smithing - creation of a gemstone and sterling silver pendant

And finally, the finished piece!

Bright Green Drusy Agate and Granulation Sterling Silver Pendant

If you like this pendant, you can see more of it here in my shop.

smithing – creation of a teardrop shaped gemstone and sterling silver ring

I love seeing other people’s processes, and I thought it was time to give you all another look into what goes on in my workshop. I have blogged before about how I create one of my signature big chunky rings, and I thought it was time to examine that process again. Here’s how I do it!

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

Firstly, an appropriate width strip of sterling silver sheet .6mm thick is selected.

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

This is curved by hand using a pair of half round pliers to fit the gemstone.

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

Next, the strip is cut to approximately the right length on my bench peg using my jeweller’s saw, leaving a small extension for soldering against.

In this video, you see me prepare and apply the borax, position the solder (not usually quite so fumbly, I had a bit of stage fright!) and solder the bezel together.

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

Once the metal is cool, it goes into the pickle to be cleaned. An explanation of pickle can be found in my previous blog post.

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

I trim the excess bezel metal away from the solder join.

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

I check to make sure the bezel is a good fit.

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

I emery the bottom of the bezel so that it is completely flat and will make a good join with the base plate.

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

I select a piece of 1mm thick sterling silver sheet to fit the bezel.

I solder the bezel to the backing plate. Here you see me applying the paillons of solder with borax, and soldering the join. Then it’s back to the pickle.

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

After rinsing and drying, a bit of a check to see how it’s looking!

Now, I saw the excess metal from around the bezel setting.

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

After filing the edges of the bezel setting, I start creating the ring shank.

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

Using the appropriate width of 1.2mm thick sterling silver plate, I bend the shank to the right shape and size.

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

I trim the shank to the right length.

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

I hammer the shank with a mallet to get it perfectly round (this shot is for explanation only, I actually have the mandrel hard up against the bench to absorb the force when I’m really hammering the ring!).

Emerying the inside of the shank with my flex drive makes life easier.

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

After more filing and emerying, I stamp the inside of the shank with my maker’s mark and 925, which marks the metal as being sterling silver (the 92.5% is the fine silver content).

I solder the shank to the bezel setting assembly.

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ringSilversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

Then it’s time for plenty more filing, and coarse to fine emerying to bring the ring close to it’s finished state.  (Zen or tedium, you decide!)

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

Next, I head over to my trusty engraving ball to set the stone.

Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring Silversmithing - creating a bezel set ring

Plenty of gentle hammering with my setting hammer later…

IMG_1003

And my work, bar some tidying up, is done!

Persimmon Orange Drusy and Sterling Silver Cocktail Ring

There it is, a beautiful drusy agate ring. I do so love what I do!

smithing – handcrafting a sterling silver spiral chain

The process of creating is sometimes more intricate than you might think when looking at the final object, so I thought we’d take a look at how chain is handmade.

 
To start, I use some lengths of wire (which is made by rolling a block of silver repeatedly in the same direction through a rolling mill, until it is thin enough to draw through a draw-plate down to the right dimension).

 

Making a sterling silver chain

 

After annealing the wire (a process where the wire is heated to a dark red to line the molecules up, making the silver malleable), I pickle it, by placing the metal in an acid solution to remove any oxidisation, dirt, or flux.

 

Handcrafting Sterling Silver Drusy Ring 003

 

I then wrap it around a steel post of a suitable diameter (this tool is called a jump ring maker, and comes with steel posts of varying widths).

 

Making a sterling silver chain

 

Once the wire is wrapped into shape, I remove it from the steel rod.

 

Making a sterling silver chain

 

I saw each link with a jeweller’s saw.

 

Making a sterling silver chain

 

Each link is individually created.

 

Making a sterling silver chain

 

After a tidy up of the links if required, I join them together, in this case in a specific mathematical combination. (I love how science, maths and creativity collide!)

 

Making a sterling silver chain

 

Once all the links are joined, I make sure the chain is the correct length.

 

Making a sterling silver chain

 

Then I solder each link closed. Yes, each and every link! In this case, that means around two hundred and eighty links to be made, joined and soldered individually.

 

Making a sterling silver chain

 

Once that is complete, the final links are added which join the chain together in a specific way to create the spiral effect. Then it’s back in the pickle for another bath, followed by some time in the tumbler, to polish and harden the chain. (I’ll post about my tumbler another day, I promise!)

 

Sterling Silver Twisted Chain

 

The finished product is quite spectacular, IMHO. You can see more pics of this twisted spiral chain technique being used here and here. I love what I do!

 

Tool of the Month – Soldering Torch

Silver Soldering Torch

One of the most important pieces of equipment a jeweller needs is the soldering torch. I use an LPG gas torch. LPG is a mixture of propane and butane.

Nearly every piece requires some amount of soldering. Soldering is the process of joining two pieces of metal together by heating them, using a material of another similarly coloured and structured alloy metal with a lower melting point than the metal being joined.

Silver Soldering Torch

There are three types of silver solder commonly used:
Hard solder – the highest melting point of between 745-778⁰C.
Medium solder – melting point of between 720-765⁰C.
Easy solder – the lowest melting point of between 705-723⁰C.

As sterling silver melts at 893⁰C, the solder will reach melting point before the silver and fuse the two pieces together.

Silver Soldering Torch

Flux is painted onto the surfaces to be soldered to prevent oxidization and firescale and ensure that the solder will fuse to the metal. I use borax, which you can see in the dish at the back of my heat resistant blocks.

Silver Soldering

Paillons of solder are positioned so that they touch both pieces of metal to be joined.  The entire piece is heated evenly with the torch to the melting point of the solder, causing the solder to run and join the pieces of metal together.

Once the metal has cooled, the piece is placed in a sulphuric acid solution (which is known as pickle) until it is a white silver colour to remove any oxide and flux, then it is rinsed in water and dried.

Swirl Ball Cuff Ring

This ring is an example of a piece that required soldering. The ring itself is soldered together at the bottom. The swirls and the balls are all soldered individually to the top of the ring.

One of the many joys of silver is that no matter how many times it is heated, melted, beaten, bent, twisted, cut, it maintains the same qualities and substance, so can be repurposed over and over again. I’m proud to say that the supplier I source my silver from manufacture right here in Australia using reclaimed silver wherever possible, so that no unnecessary mining takes place. This recycled silver is refined and tested to ensure that it is 100% pure sterling silver. The planet thanks us!