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14K white gold repair


#1

I recently had a 14K white gold engagement ring in for sizing.
Usually I can solder 14K white gold with 19k white weld solder (1670
degrees Fahrenheit) with no issues and no solder seam. I ended up
using 14K white medium solder (1365 degrees Fahrenheit). The ring was
almost melting before the solder flowed. What are some manufacturers
using to karatise 14K white gold. Could not even laser weld it. I
have not seen anything like this in all my 39 years at the bench. Any
thoughts would be appreciated.

Thank you and take care, Paul Le May, Bracebridge, Ontario. Canada.


#2

Paul- I am so sorry to hear this. I hate it when a simple 10 minute
job pukes all over my bench.

If you still have the ring, metal test it for Karat content. If you
do not have a karat tester any good pawn shop, coin store or gold
buyer in your area would have one. If it is not actually 14 kt it
must be disclosed to the client and returned to the retailer for a
refund or replacement.

I for one am really curious to find out what karat it really is, and
the customer should really know before you return it to them or you
may be liable in the future if any more repairs are needed. “It was
14 kt when I gave it to that jeweler Paul to size. He must have
switched mountings on me.” Grrrr. Hate when that happens.

Let us know what you find out.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#3

While this will be no help, about 30 years ago I attempted to size
down a “14k” yellow 6mm band.

The metal melted lower than even extra easy solder! Acid tested as
gold, never did figure out what had happened to the ring to make it
sluff / melt so easy.

Ended up having to replace the band for the customer! Scrap recycled
long ago now.

Mark Chapman


#4

Send the ring to me and I will fix it for free with the latest
technology…fusion welding.

Terry


#5

I forgot aboout one other possibility…

Could it be a prank by a fellow jeweler? Many years ago I was working
in a busy trade shop. We had a rivalry with another one across the
street. The other shop was known for thier scholck work. They once
put lead solder tips on an emerald in a platinum ring. Yup.

That bad.

So for fun we took a whole bunch of really low karat repair solder,
I’m guessing 10 kt easy, and cast a ring out of it. We put it in a
plain job envelope and sent it to them with someone they couldn’t
trace back to us to have it sized.

We laughed for days about what would happen.

Much to our surprise, it came back in one piece and sized to the
correct size. We were amazed that they could do it and then realized
that they just regularly used 6-8 Kt easy solder for all of thier
size jobs.

More laughter ensued.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#6
The metal melted lower than even extra easy solder! Acid tested as
gold, never did figure out what had happened to the ring to make
it sluff / melt so easy. 

I’ve seen that too. The times I’ve had the pleasure of working with
it was pieces from a company that does remount shows. The store I
used to work at in the 80’s used to hire a company that does these
shows as an outside vendor, in the store. I’m not naming names, but
they also do “Going Out of Business” sales and all that kind of
thing. Pretty much anybody that’s been at this at the retail level
for a while in the US is familiar with, or at least has heard of this
company. Full page ads in National Jeweler, etc.

Basically, a retail store hires them to do these big two or three
day remount events. They market the heck out of it, hang bright
orange banners all over the place, put ads in the paper, send out
flyers to the store’s customer list and on the days of the sale,
bring in a goldsmith or two, complete with benches and tools, and
hundreds if not thousands of different styles of mountings. Customers
bring in old jewelry, pick out a mounting and the goldsmiths do head
and sets while they wait. They can be real money makers for the
business that hires them. They pay their traveling goldsmiths pretty
well too, with really good benefits, or at least they used to. But
they are not all that concerned with quality or long-term happy
customers. They don’t really have to be, they are in another city in
another state next week. Some have called them jewelry carnies
(people that work in traveling carnivals, many with a
less-than-honorable reputation for those not familiar with the term).

The metal they use in their mountings is really strange. It has a
slightly lighter yellow color than most 14K alloys and as Mark
wrote, it melts at just about the same temperature as medium or even
easy solder. It’s a real PITA to size or move heads around when the
customer decides they want this stone here and that one there,
instead of where they are, which is all but inevitable. I don’t know
what the alloy is, but I’d bet whatever it is, it’s cheaper than
dirt.

Paul, I’m not sure, but your white gold ring may be the same sort of
thing. White gold was out of favor back when I was messing around
with the jewelry carnies, so I never saw any pieces like that, but I
wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the same thing was true about
cheap, white gold remounts.

Is it an older piece? Some older white metal pieces are made with an
alloy that acts like that and I have been told that it is actually
alloyed with iridium and/or ruthenium instead of nickel. It
generally has a slightly more brown color. Not only does is melt at a
lower temp, but it sort of bubbles like it’s boiling. Getting a color
match with solder is all but impossible too. There were also pieces
made a while back that were made entirely of iridium. Really tough to
work on that stuff too.

Sorry I don’t have any good advice other than to do as you did and
use ultra-greasy flow solder. But at least I can verify that you’re
not crazy! And that you are not suffering from what we call here “The
Reverse Midas Touch”, which is what you have when all of the gold
you touch turns to S***.

Dave Phelps


#7

Checking the karet content of an item will not tell you the alloy.
Some time back I posted that the Chinese were using cadmium to alloy
sterling silver. I had a sterling ring in to size, because the alloy
was cadmium the ringevaporated, depleted badly. Also, as far as I
can find out, there isno requirements to disclose the alloy or
method of alloying. The problem is not with the parent metal but
with the alloy, as with cadmium the evaporation point is under
400deg. C. impossible to solder with conventional methods. As a
result of the bad experience with the Chinese silver, I now ask my
customers where the metal originated. If it is from a suspected non
standard area I do not guarantee that I can repair it and make sure
the customer understands. I have toyed around with trying to find a
method of checking the alloy of a metal but so far have not found
one that I could afford and employ. Most of what I have found has
been of a destructive method, notgood for a repair, have to tell the
customer that you checked the alloy and there item was destroyed in
the testing process. If anyone has a system that works I would
appreciate it if they would share with the rest of the amateur
jewelers lurking out here. Historically speaking I think lead was
used at one time to alloy silver, and was it not the Mexican
jewelers that came up with using copper as an alloy for silvere? As
Buggs Bunny would say, TTThats all folks…


#8

Hi William Great post.

One more (in an already long list) good reason to avoid Chinese
goods! Sam


#9

I’ve seen that stuff too. I assume it’s actually 14k but alloyed in
a way that reduces the flow point temp way down, maybe to aid the
idiots in casting. It’s frustrating junk to work on, doesn’t seem to
rhodium plate well either. By the time it gets to us all we can do
is try to find a way to make it work and of course curse the evil
bastards who made it.

Mark