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Soldering Jewellery

Required equipmentIntroduction to Soft Soldering Jewellery

This is not so much a project, but a guide to help answer some questions and to address any queries or misconceptions that people have about soldering jewellery. The bracelet is used as an example displaying how soldering can be utilised.

Hard and Soft soldering

There are two main forms of soldering, soft soldering and hard soldering.


Hard soldering involves a open flame torch, pressurised gas and, almost always, added oxygen. Hard soldering is preferred but more costly and somewhat more labour intensive. However, when it comes to sterling silver jewellery, it is the only option. The solders used are made of silver alloys. Note: even when all materials used are sterling silver, once a “soft solder” is used you are not allowed to mark or call your jewellery “Sterling Silver” or “925”.

Soft soldering is almost always used in fashion jewellery since it is relatively cheap and easy to learn. On the downside you will need to electroplate the articles that you make (See comments at the end). This form of soldering cannot be used on Sterling Silver jewellery.Wired up frame The reasons for this are simple; the solder used is not silver but a greyish coloured tin alloy. You cannot use a soldering iron on solder designed for sterling silver, as it will not melt. Melting temperatures will vary depending on what solder alloy combination is used. However, you generally can only use one kind of solder.

Metals

Since there is no “quality mark” involved when using soft solder, this leaves you open to use all kinds of base metals and their alloys. Yes, you could still use Sterling Silver if you wish, though, it should be noted that it does not mean you can call the finished piece “Sterling Silver.”

Preferred metals are brass and copper based since they conduct heat very well and electro plate easily. Stay away from anything else. You can also use plated parts, preferably silver or gold plated. Nickel and Rhodium plated parts are harder to solder, and are less desirable for this reason. The bracelet created for this example uses Sterling Silver as the base frame for its malleability (Picture 1). Additionally, since it will have lots of wear from rubbing against the wrist, it will still look silver when parts of the plating wear off. Other parts are copper and brass alloys in raw (not plated) as well as silver and gold plated findings. Hence the multiple colour scheme (Picture 3)!

Jewellery Soldering Tools

Tools for jewellery you will need are basic.

The electric soldering iron should be 80 watts. Don’t try and save money by getting some cheap 25-watt iron, these are designed for electronics and will not generate the required heat. You should later consider an adjustable iron, which regulates the wattage between 75 and 100W for more detailed work. The tip of the iron should be a fine chisel tip, note that several sizes are available, get the smallest possible tip. I don't use the pointed tip available since, although it can get you into small spaces, it tends not...

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