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Best white metal for wedding bands


#1

Hi Orchid, I don’t usually do wedding rings but my brother is getting
married and wants me to make the rings. They are not sure what metal
to go with but they know they don’t want yellow gold and have
reservations about white gold, though they say they’re not “platinum
people”. I work mainly with argentium and a little yellow gold. I’ve
thought about argentium, but especially since they want a matte or
satin finish, I just don’t think argentium would make a nice matte
finish band that will stay looking nice for very long. Argentium does
tarnish and I can just imagine what a matte finish band would look
like after a year let alone 10, 20, or 50 years. Even a florentine
finish, which i’ve never done, probably would’nt last very long. I
suppose that heat hardening and activation treatment would help a
bit, but not enough for daily wear for a lifetime. There is also
platinum sterling, which I know very little about. My brother asked
me what I would do so I told him about mokume and he seemed intrigued
by the idea. I am thinking about using the pre-patterned palladium
white gold/argentium mokume sheet from rio with an extra argentium
lining for strength and a little more thickness. Does anyone have
experience with this stuff? what kind of solder should i use and what
are the specs regarding soldering, quenching, anealling, etc? Or is
there some other white metal than I can use that would make a durable
matte finish band?

Thanks,
douglas


#2

argentium would defeat the purpose of matte finishing. Platinum
would be easy to deal with as it’s softer than say atainless steel.
White gold isn’t worth the money as it’s part nickel and in 14kt. you
are essentially paying for nickel…titanium is too hard to work with
so rule that out. The pre pattereened mokume gane seems the best
possibility if barring platinum (though the investment is worth it
particularly if you can buy a jeweler’s scrap Pt rather than paying
full spot price - just test it well and avoid 10% iridium containing
scrap)- if you go with hoover’s mokume that you listed above in the
white billet combo they will sell you the appropriate solder for
karat you order or have made up as a special order, though in general
14 karat -18 kt hard white gold plumb solder will work fine (just
don’t over pickle and potentially pit the sterling in the billet. I
would not buy into the platinum sterling as when one goes to sell
their scrap it is impossible to get rid of at most dealers without
having to send it off to a refiner. So order just enough to use in
the rings and don’t consider it an investment uless you buy a say, 1
1/2" x 3" sheet and cut a strip off the length,roll print or etch the
strip for a cuff bracelet or similar to use it up in one swoop!!..
rer


#3

I do a lot of wedding bands in palladium (the Pd 950 alloy from
Hoover & Strong). I have a ring made of this myself and am very happy
with its performance, and I am very hard on rings.

I have some info on metal choices on my website heRe:
http://www.afmetalsmith.com/contents/learn.html#metals

including pictures of what the various white metals i use look like
compared to each other.

Personally, I recommend the Pd 950 alloy or 14k palladium white gold
for wedding bands- these are sturdy, pretty non-allergenic, and
metals that are nice to work with (important for my designs).

Argentium is a GREAT sterling, IF people really want sterling.
Argentium has not made my customers happy when they choose it for
price reasons, because it DOES behave like sterling (it gets dinged
up far more easily, for instance). So: if they want silver- then,
yeah, Argentium; if they want white gold or platinum- but can’t
afford it- they are much less likely to be happy with Argentium even
though they themselves chose it because they could afford it more
easily.

I’ve done some work with a sterling with 3% Pt, and was not at all
happy with the porosity of the mill goods. H&S’s Pd/sterling is far
better- no porosity!- but I am not convinced it’s worth the premium
over Argentium, though it’s a lovely metal in itself.

Amanda Fisher


#4

Douglas-

I just loves me some palladium! It seems to hold a finish very well.
We like to bead blast and high polish the high spots in our work.
Contact James Binnion about Mokume. He’s the very best and will
steer you right.

And remember, If you can’t charge your family and friends… Well
then who CAN you charge?Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#5

R.E.

I agree any silver is not the choice for wedding bands, unless it’s
your 4th wedding and they plan on a few more :slight_smile:

Platinum is very nice, almost a guaranteed satin finish soon, but it
takes different techniques and tools than silver and gold. Stainless
is not expensive, the colour can be an acquired taste and a lathe is
really handy for bands. Titanium is not impossible to work, again a
lathe handy, but no solder. It is also very light for some peoples
perception of a wedding band.

I like white golds, lots of different shades and it is possible to
avoid Ni alloys. Last time I looked there was a price difference per
gram between 14K and 18K sort of proportional to gold content. You
are not buying Ni at gold prices. Harder to work than silvers but
easier than stainless or titanium. Nice stuff, just NEVER rhodium
plate. I like the metal. Recess the matte or textured areas for
protection and it is good for a long time.

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#6

950 palladium has recently been given a hallmark by the UK assay
offices, which indicates it’s growing popularity here. We’ve been
using it more and more over the past 3 years, but we’ve done a bit of
a u-turn. On paper, it seems a great alternative to platinum for
cost, and to white gold for strength, but our experience is that it’s
unsuitable for stone setting because it’s too “bendy” (not a very
technical term, I know). While that isn’t important if we’re talking
about wedding bands, the problem occurs a year or two down the line -
when I get them back for re-polishing, they’re always covered with
wide smooth indentation, which need massive amounts of abrasion to
remove. This might just be the alloy we used, of course, but it seems
to be the same regardless of which bullion dealer or caster we buy
from. From other subjects we’ve discussed on this mailing list, I
think that US alloys are more varied than the ones we use here.

Jamie
http://primitive.ganoksin.com


#7

The problem of the lack of hardness in the cast Pd 950 alloys has
been raised as an issue here in the US as well. I know there has been
some effort in looking at new alloys or processes that might change
this but I have not seen anyone offering a “new improved harder” cast
Pd 950 alloy yet. One solution is to use a platinum or 18k white head
on the Pd 950 shank but that is obviously a less than optimal
solution and unfeasible for many designs.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#8
950 palladium but our experience is that it's unsuitable for stone
setting because it's too "bendy" 

That’s very interesting Jamie. Thanks for bringing this up. I was
going to sing the praises of 950 palladium with regard to this
thread as I have made wedding type bands from it, but I’ve never yet
attempted to set stones in it, so your observations are very handy
to know, thanks.

I suppose it would be fine for more casual jewellery, as it is
harder than sterling silver (which I regularly set stones in, and
which last for years with casual use) but then this thread is about
wedding bands and therefore the associated engagement rings would
fall under the same discussion.

Helen
UK


#9

I said previously that I use a lot of H&S’s 950 Pd alloy for wedding
bands. I don’t know that I’ve ever set a stone in it, though, and am
interested to heard people’s experiences with that.

Also: my rings are not cast- they’re made of mill goods and often
forged past that, so they’re pretty solid and hard by the time
they’re done. I can believe that cast Pd might be too soft.

For the record, for this alloy the best solder match I’ve found is
H&S’s 21k white gold solder; I’ve tried the Pd solders and the color
wasn’t great, plus they tended to dent during polishing. Thanks to
Orchid for that tip- I was getting frustrated before someone
suggested this solder!

-Amanda Fisher