Adding gold wire and beads to my silver

I have always admired jewelry with little beads or swirls of wire
added to the surface of a piece. I would like to incorporate some
gold wire and little beads of gold to some of my silver pieces but am
not sure how to do it. I had asked a few of my instructors and was
told that it is tough and many time the little beads fall off, but
was never given much else as the way of help. Are the beads actually
beads or are they little drops of gold or silver that are melted into
balls? Is this stuff soldered on? - the clean up must be a pain
then! If I use gold (I’ve been working with 18Kt for some accents
that I do on my silver) is there any karat better to work with than
others? Thanks, Elle the more I know, the more I want to know!

Hello Bijou481,

I’ve had good success with sweat soldering gold (14K or higher)
components (everything from stampings to wire) onto silver. My
success with 10K gold has not been so good - the 10K I used seemed to
have a melting point nearly the same as the silver solder. Yep, the
gold sort of melted onto the silver substrate. Not unattractive, but
not exactly what I wanted. The melting problem has not been a
problem with 14 K.

To make balls melt gold scrap on a charcoal block. File a flat place
on the gold ball and flux just the flat place. I cut a tiny bit of
Easy Silver solder and place it on the soldering block. Melt the
silver solder, and touch the fluxed part of the gold ball to the
melted solder to pick up solder onto the ball. Pickle, etc. You
will likely need to file that blob of solder flat again to keep it
from rolling when you place it on the silver substrate. Same process
with wire; CAREFULLY pick up the solder onto each end of the wire and
maybe a bit in the middle. That wire wants to melt or sag!

Make sure your silver substrate is clean before sweat soldering the
pieces of gold. Place the gold pieces where you want them. To help
assure a good flow, I touch the melted solder (on the bottom of the
gold) to a drop of Battern’s flux to carry the flux onto the silver
at final placement, then gently heat to dry it to a crust. Then do
the ol’ Prip’s flux all over (… Battern’s would probably work too)
to prevent firescale. Solder as you would with sweating silver to
silver, applying heat from below to bring the substrate up to melting
temperature. When the solder flows, you’ll notice the gold piece sort
of “settling” down onto the silver. Quench in pickle and polish.

Easy solder takes oxidation well and I really do like the black
background to the gold application. You might want to oxidize the
piece before polishing.

This sweat soldering technique becomes more tricky if the silver
surface is curved - like a half round band or bracelet. In that
case, fitting the gold to very closely match the curve upon which you
want to solder becomes sooooo important. You really want all the
little gold edges well soldered or you’ll lose them in polishing.

Hope this helps & good luck! Orchid is such a great resource - Kop
kuhn ma ka, Hanuman.

Judy in Kansas where we got rain over the weekend!

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Extension Associate
221 Call Hall Kansas State Univerisity
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-1213 FAX (785) 532-5681

   I have always admired jewelry with little beads or swirls of
wire added to the surface of a piece.  I would like to incorporate
some gold wire and little beads of gold to some of my silver pieces
but am not sure how to do it.

It sounds as if you want to try ‘granulation’. See Oppi Untracht,
pp. 348-363. I have done this quite successfully using tiny beads of
gold, made by filling a small tin with powdered charcoal mixed with
little snippets of thin gold sheet, putting the lid on the tin, making
the whole lot red hot in the sitting room fire, and finally washing
them out when cool. Next I ‘flashed’ a layer of copper onto the
grains by putting them into copper sulphate solution (with an iron
nail). I arranged the grains on the surface of the item using a
watered down mixture of seccotine (an animal glue) and a fine sable
brush. Then comes the tricky part. When thoroughly dry, the work
needs to be heated, preferably in a reducing atmosphere / flame, until
the grains fuse to the work. The copper film on the grains lowers the
melting point at the area of contact, which is how the process seems
to work. This worked for me with 18k gold. I have some doubts of it
working, as you wish, with gold grains on a silver surface. But its
worth a try! David Kelsall (UK) I

I think you will have more luck with the granulation if you heat and
quech your silver first and bring up a layer of pure on the surface.

I believe you would like to fuse or applique small pieces of gold
without the use of solder and this can be accomplished with careful
torch control and the understanding of some of the physical
properties of the metals involved. This technique takes advantage of
the high heat conductivity of silver and the low heat conductivity of
gold. I generally use 18K but it can also be accomplished with 14K or
other alloys. The technique is as follows: Place the silver piece on a
metal spider which will serve as a heat sink. Use a high heat flux on
the silver-such as Prip’s flux or Black flux (these are used because
they are longer lasting) Place the pieces of gold on the surface in
the approximate desired configuration. Begin heating with the torch,
moving it around to heat the entire piece. Periodically remove the
torch to allow the silver to give up some of it’s heat, while the heat
in the gold begins to build up. (because of the different heat
conductivities) You will have to reposition the gold pieces with a
pick during this buildup Eventually the gold will reach a temperature
at the interface with the silver where fusion will take place and this
can be recognized by a bright flash at the perimeter of the gold
pieces. The long lasting flux will have kept oxygen away from this

I hope this helps and if questions arise e-mail me directly J. Dule