Hello everyone. This is my 1st posting and I am also a beginner. I
have a question on doing soldering work on a ring that still has the
stones set in them (any item for that matter). I have read that one
can cover the ring & stone area with wet cotton wool or bury the ring
halfway in wet sand.
I have practiced and done a lot of solder work, I can do that well
enough now. My next task is to do work on a ring (not my ring) that
has a few gemstones set in it. I am a little bit nervous and cannot get
myself to wrap the gemstone part of the ring in cotton wool and do the
How exactly must I do solder work on a ring with the stones still in
them and how does one do it with pendants? Any response will be
Hello Johan, I’m sure several people will suggest using a "3rd hand"
soldering tweezer to hold the ring partially submerged in a shallow
metal container (tuna can) so that the stones are underwater. Then
turn up the heat and solder away. Check the archives & this nifty
website that Michael Matthews in Victoria TX put up. http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/Loge/9493/watersizing.html As to
the problem of soldering a pendant with stones, unless the stones are
located so that they can be protected in the same way, you’re
probably going to have to remove them. Maybe Michael has a slick
suggestion. Judy in Kansas
Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
221 Call Hall Kansas State Univerisity
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-1213 FAX (785) 532-5681
Dear Johan As someone not that far past the beginer stage myself ,I
clearly remember the first time I worked on someone elses piece ! I
use a product called GARNET SAND ( from RIO ) to hold and protect
pieces I am soldering …you must watch the sand as well as the piece
because if the sand dries out it will transmit heat to the stones!
…there are many products to protect stones, cool jewel ect. prehaps
the easist is just use a small can of water ( Alan Revere’s preferred
method ) and place the stones in the water…another tip from an
orchidian ( and I don’t remember who or I would give credit ) is to
use the water can but place a piece of fire brick in the opening of
the ring to help concentrate the heat to make soldering faster…but
the safest way if you can is to remove the stones unless they are
diamonds or corundum ( rubies or sapphires ) HTH
Johan, you neglected to say what the metal is. If you are soldering
gold you MIGHT get away with using a heat sink like you described.
If you are soldering solder, the stones need to come out. If you get
enough of a heat sink to protect the stone, you will not be able to
get the metal hot enough to accept the solder. The amount of time
saved by not removing the stones can be overshadowed by the cost of
obtaining a replacement stone (or stones).
If the stones are sapphire, ruby, or diamonds without filler
treatment, you can safely solder without the heat sink. Even if the
metal is gold, but the stones are heat sensitive, opal, pearl,
emerald, smokey quartz as limited examples, then it is wise to remove
the stone before attempting a solder operation.
No mater the stone, watch quenching after the solder. It is best to
perform the solder and wait until the piece can be touched without
burning your hand before putting it in the pickle. Again make sure
the stones are save in the pickle.
Hi Johan, Take a deep breath… now let it out. It’s always safer to
remove the stones, but that takes time and includes some risk in
Okay, there are a couple of factors on whether this should be done,
or not. First, what is the metal. Silver is an extraordinary conductor
of heat. It will transfer the heat to the stones much more quickly
than gold. Second, what are the stones? Some stones (emerald and opal,
especially) should never be subjected to any heat. Research the
properties of the stones if you’re not confident they can withstand
the thermal stress.
I have seen native American craftsmen successfully size big cast
rings set with turquoise and coral that I wouldn’t touch with a ten
foot pole. Whether or not to remove the stones depends on level of
risk you are willing to take, but make it an informed risk.
If you decide to go ahead, use a hot sharp flame and work as quickly
as you can. If you anticipate doing a lot of this type of work, I
highly recommend Alan Revere’s Ring Repair book, which has also been
featured as projects in Lapidary Journal.
All the best,
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA) email@example.com
My experience with using things like Cool Jool , etc., is that it
does not really protect the stones if you are soldering directly in
back of them. I recently tried wet sand and a heat resistant
substance like Kool Jool to put a new post on some earrings directly
behind the stones–it didn’t work! The greater the distance between
the stones and the soldering, the more likely they can be protected.
The other problem I have found is that even if the soldering goes
well (some stones just craze-- get fine cracks in them or experience
a color change) using the pickle can damage some stones. It’s alot
of bother, but removing the stones seems to be the best way of
protecting them. Sandra
Don, I’ve got to disagrre with your asessment that if you’re soldering
(silver) the stones have to come out. I regularly solder silver
without removing the stones using the water immersion method. Holding
the ring with tweezers with the stone barely submerged in a cup of
water, solder with a large hot flame. I usually use a Smith “Little
Torch” with a #5 tip with just a hint of yellow showing at the tip of
the inner blue cone. Sometimes, depending on the thickness of the
piece and the relative thickness of the area containing the solder
joint to the rest of the piece I may also use a second pair of
tweezers on the other side of the joint as an additional heat sink.
Just remember that the stone, as long as it’s submerged, will not get
hotter than the boiling point of the water. Drop the piece into the
water as soon as the solder flows. …Jerry in Kodiak
Just remember that the stone, as long as it's submerged, will
not get hotter than the boiling point of the water.
Not so. When a stone is completely submerged in water, the surface
of the stone contacting the water can be hotter than the boiling point
of the water. Remember, heat is conducting from the stone to the
water; from the hotter material to the cooler water.
The metal directly contacting the stone is the point where the heat
is being transferred to the stone. The heat is being transferred
within the metal. If, for example, the temperature of the metal
touching the stone is 800 degrees F, then part of the stone is in
direct contact with this amount of heat. Depending upon the thermal
conductivity of the stone itself, heat will transfer from the metal to
the stone, and then from the stone to the water. Both the metal and
the stone is heating the water. This would certainly be true in the
case of a diamond which has excellent thermal conductivity.
If the stone has poor thermal properties, you now have a situation
where there is a much greater temperature difference on the surface of
the stone. This temperature difference approximates the difference
between the temperature of the metal at the point of contact and the
temperature of the water contacting the stone at a point furthest away
from the metal contact. If the metal is at 800 degrees F and the
water is at 100 degrees F, you now have a 700 degree temperature
difference on the stones surface. This would cause stress within the
stone and may have worse effects on this type of stone than one with
good thermal conductivity.
The purpose of the water is to act as a heat sink. Primarily, to
draw as much of the heat out of the metal before it reaches the stone.
Below is are 2 previous posts that you should find helpful
Here is the reason why soldering with heat sensitive stones under
water is the safest method. When two objects are placed together
(physicists say when they are put in thermal contact), the object
with the higher temperature cools while the cooler object becomes
warmer until a point is reached after which no more change occurs.
When the thermal changes have stopped, we say that the two objects
are in thermal equilibrium. If you take a ring and put the heat
sensitive stones underwater and then apply heat to the shank the water
will only get as hot as its boiling point before it starts to
evaporate. As long as there is water covering the stone, the stone
will not reach temperatures much higher than the boiling point of
water. As long as you use enough heat to get your weld or solder done
before the water evaporates away from the stone the stone should
The following data can be found at my web page at
Whenever you have to size a ring or solder an item with heat sensitive
stones that are far enough away from the solder joint, you can protect
the stones by the following method:
Do whatever you need to do to get the ring to the right size. Pre-flux
silver or gold items with boric and alcohol but don’t burn it on, just
let it dry. Platinum items need not be pre-fluxed in this application
since we will be holding the stones under water. Put ring on
your third-arm tweezer. Fill a tuna can or crucible or the like with
water. Position the ring in the water so that the stones are under
water. The more of the shank that is above water the faster the solder
will flow. If the ring is open backed, I mean to say if the stone or
stones are visible to you through the back of the ring, you will want
to pack a small piece of toilet paper or Vigor Therma-Guard, that
cotton-like fibrous material that can be soaked with water to insulate
things from heat over the stone, to protect it from the flame. Anyway,
this will keep the fire from licking the stone through the water. The
pressure from the flame can move the water away from the stone and
cause the flame to come into contact with the stone. Once this is set
up, you flux the seam and either place a chip of solder
on the seam or melt it on a charcoal block and pick it up with a
solder pick. I use a carbide soldering pick.
I solder using my usual propane/oxy on shanks up to about 2mm X 2mm in
gold. On anything silver and gold larger than approximately 2x2mm, I
switch my tank to Acetylene/Oxygen. On platinum I always use
propane/oxygen because the heat does not sink away as quickly as with
gold or silver. This is an excellent method to weld platinum with
stones set and keep from getting that dark seem from using less than
1700 solder. It takes a little getting used to, because the water will
start to sizzle. The key is to be hot enough to get it soldered in
about 10 seconds. See how big a flame you can make with your torch.
Chances are if you do not have an Acetylene/Oxygen set up you will
have little success with this method. Because the water is sinking the
heat as fast as you can provide it, the
flame must be bigger than your good sense would normally allow. If you
have a “little torch” use a #5 or #6 or #7 tip. Always leave the ring
in the water after you weld. Grab it with another pair of tweezers
and, without removing the stones from the water, submerge the entire
ring in the water until it is cool. If this is impractical because the
tweezer on your third arm is so hot then, using another tweezer, dab
water onto the third-arm tweezer until it quits sizzling and is cool
enough to touch. Usually on silver I flow the solder on the outside of
the shank first then come from under the shank to pull it through.
I have tried all those cool jewel type products and this beats them.
Let me know if you need any more info.