Annealing 6 gauge wire

Hello, My name is Ann and I just joined. I would like to know about
annealing 6 gauge sterling silver. My problem is, that I am making 6
gauge 3.5 inch earrings that I bend at about the half way point and
I am not able to get the metal soft enough to bend easily which will
be a problem in the long run for the wearer of these earrings. Is
this possible or is 6 gauge just too thick to work it easily? I
have brought the metal up to red let it cool back to grey then
quenched it numerous times, is there something I’m just not getting?

Ann, Once the metal is annealed, it is annealed and repeating the
process does not make it any softer. You can specify "dead soft"
when you order and then you know that you are starting with annealed
metal. These earrings will be very heavy. You might want to compare
the weight to other earrings to make sure they won’t be beyond the
comfort level of the customer. Good luck. Jan

Heat up to cherry red and plunge into cold water/pickle. That’s how
to anneal sterling.

Tony Konrath
Key West Florida 33040

An idea I’m working on for large but ligher earings is to use tubing
instead of wire, could also allow different surface texturing of the
earring as well.


Heat up to cherry red and plunge into cold water/pickle. That's
how to anneal sterling. 

It might be useful, too, to define cherry red. It’s often
misunderstood in these days of artificial lighting in our studios.
The term came into use back when we heated things over a dimly lit
charcoal furnace, on an otherwise dimly lit room. And the red
described is that very dark blackish red that some cherries have, not
a bright red. In bright light, you can’t see it glow at all. The
temp is around 900 F. If you’re really seeing the silver glow in an
environment with decent light, such as a normal jewelers bench these
days, you’re actually getting it hotter than it needs to be, and
perhaps getting some grain growth. this won’t affect fabricated
work, but it can reduce the malleability and strength of metal you’re
forging. And in quenching sterling, if it hits the water while you
still see any significant glow, you can easily shatter it.


Ed, the tubing would be much kinder to the wearer’s ear lobes than
the six gage wire! Tubing will kink when bending but there are
several ways to avoid this. One way is to insert a spring that can
later be removed and another way is to fill it with water, cap the
ends in some way, and freeze before bending.

Marilyn Smith

Okay, I have to jump in: I have been taught at George Brown College
and in various texts for example Tim McCreight’s handbook, to quench
in cold water for safety reasons and then pickle. There are those
that are convinced that quenching in pickle is superior to cold
water, that the heated pickle will speed up the process of
eliminating the oxidation on the surface of the metal. And oh yes,
to anneal silver, heat it up until there is a white colour change on
the surface of the metal only. If the piece becomes cherry red,
you’ve gone to far, you’ll get firescale etc. And thank you to all
those who responded to my Organizing my Orchid dilemma, I am not
ignoring you, I’ve just been soo busy. I’m trying to read through
all these posts and eliminate them as I can…It’s all too much too
much… Heartworm season is upon us. Judy