Soldering Jump Rings Using Sterling Silver Solder

Soldering Jump Rings Using Sterling Silver Solder

If you’re serious about making good quality jewellery, learning to solder is an essential skill. Not only will your jewellery look better and more ‘finished’, but your clasps and fastenings will be stronger and more secure as well. If you are planning to sell your silver jewellery commercially, you will also have to ensure that the solder you use is silver solder and conforms to the same hallmarking standards as the findings to be able to call your jewellery ‘sterling’ silver.

Soldering is actually far easier than you may first assume. You do need to ensure that your work surface is heat resistant and that you have considered all safety issues before beginning. Make sure the area you are working in is free from clutter and well ventilated and that you have prepared your equipment before starting. A pair of safety goggles is a worthwhile investment as they protect your eyes if impurities in the silver or silver solder cause the liquid metal to ‘spit’. The easiest and most controllable heat source to work with is a butane torch, which is very similar to the kind used in kitchens. These are perfect for small jobs such as soldering jump rings. You will also need flux, a charcoal block, safety pickle and a pickle pot and tongs (copper or plastic). An optional extra, and one that can help you a great deal in particularly fiddly jobs, is what is commonly referred to as a ‘helping’ or ‘third’ hand. This is a tabletop tool that has crocodile clamps that can be angled to hold your work in place, leaving both hands free to work.

Before you begin soldering, make sure that your jump ring is spotlessly clean with no grease marks or dust on the surface. Ensure that the seams of the jump ring fit together cleanly. Solder does not fill gaps, so a good tight fit is essential for a quality finish. Make sure the two ends of the jump ring spring together, as you will be using this tension to hold the final shape of the jump ring. If necessary, use a fine jeweller’s file to flatten off the ends so that they meet perfectly.

Place the jump ring on the charcoal block or in the ‘helping hands’ clips and carefully put a very small amount of flux on the join. Flux is a chemical cleaning agent that removes any silver oxide from the surface of the jump ring and also allows the solder to flow freely when heated. Silver solder is normally sold as a thin sheet of solder that can be cut with jeweller’s snips into the right size for each job. Place a small piece of solder on the seam (the flux will also act as a binding agent to hold the solder in place). Once you are happy with the position of the solder, gently apply the heat to the solder, keeping the flame moving rather than focused in one spot so that the solder flows evenly across and into the seam. As soon as the solder liquefies, remove the heat and allow the jump ring to cool. As soon as it is cool, place it in the pickle bath to remove any oxidation. You can then rinse the jump ring in a solution of water and baking soda, which neutralises the acid of the pickle bath, and give it a final polish.

Your jump ring is now ready to use on your final piece and will give you a professional finish and secure fitting for any clasps you wish to add. With practice, silver soldering is easy to master and will raise the standard of your work above the ordinary and into the realms of the professional.

Adam Hunter – E-commerce Marketing Manager of cooksongold.com. Cookson Precious Metals offer a choice of jewellery making supplies from over 10,000 products including Sterling silver solder, jewellery tools, precious metal clay and more. Contacts Adam Hunter E-commerce Marketing Manager Tel(DDI): +44 (0) 121 212 6491 E-mail: adam.hunter@cooksongold.com

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