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[Beginners' Corner] Black Spots on Silver


I’m extremely new to metal as I mostly work with beads. I am trying
to create a new design and was looking for some advice. I have made
several “beaded beads” (glass beads covered over with tiny sterling
plated beads woven together in a netted fasion). I would like to
thread the beaded bead onto a 1 mm sterling cable wire along with
some semiprecious beads and some sterling or fine silver bead caps
that I have made. I would them like to use low temp silver solder
from Rio Grande and a soldering iron to secure a sterling bead to the
cable wire on either side of the design. On my first attempt I got
some black spotting on the sterling beads which I intended to clean
off (I think it may have been fire scale?). I put the whole thing in
a ziplock to store, but, when I came back to finish, the whole thing
was black and the beaded bead was ruined. Any ideas on what I did
wrong? Thanks in advance…I would experiment more but those darn
beaded beads take 2 hours to make under a magnifier :slight_smile:

Kim Starbard
Cove Beads

The beads you are weaving with sound like they are so tiny that they
are in danger of melting.

Using soldering irons and lead solder is a no-no in jewelry. I don’t
think anyone on this list will give you directions on how to do it.

To hold the design in place on the wire, could you use a crimp bead,
and then cover the crimp bead with a larger bead with a large hole?

Otherwise, perhaps you could use epoxy to hold the end beads in


Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

Hi Elaine:

The epoxy may work well. I thought that if I used epoxy though,
people might think the jewelry lesser in quality. Am I being
paranoid about that? Will epoxy hold over the long term?

The solder that I have is Solderfast from Rio Grande. It’s mostly tin
and doesn’t have any lead in it. I think I should call Rio Grande
tomorrow and tell them what happened. I thought it would be ok to use
since the solder will be inside the bead and not seen on the piece
itself. Thanks for your input. I really want to take a class, but it
doesn’t start until the end of the month.

Kim Starbard
Cove Beads

Yes, epoxy is great stuff, it will hold. It’s kind of water
resistant, even. Lots of people prefer the stuff called “330,” you
might try that. Rio has it.

Glad you found a class!


Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

May I make a suggestion unrelated to your problem. If you are
spending 2 hours to make a single bead, why don’t you use tiny
sterling beads instead of plated. The cost is still small and the
value and durability of the piece would be increased. Epoxy is better
than low temp solder in my book. I use 330 as well.

Betty Belmonte

Thanks Betty:

I didn’ t know they made sterling beads so small. The beads I’m
using now (you string them) are about 40 beads to the inch. Do you
know where I can get silver beads that small? I will try the epoxy
and see what happens. If Rio Grande markets the low temp silver
solder as a great alternative when the solder will be hidden, why is
everyone so hesitant to use it? It’s the only way I can think of to
protect my beads.