Brooch/pin back advice

In an effort to expand my skills and so on, I decided I need to work on making some brooches/pins.
I am curious what folks here do/recommend.
Do you purchase pin backs, if so, from what supplier, what material/metal and can they be soldered if not silver (my primary metal) and pickled? If nickel? (I’ve never used nickel, so I don’t know.)
Is nickel stronger than sterling?

Do some of you fabricate the pin backs and clasps? If from silver, my worry would be strength.

I see on Rio’s site that they carry clasps) mechanisms that are sterling, and nickel pins. I presume you could solder the sterling parts, then add a nickel or stainless pin.

Thanks in advance for the array of replies, opinions, advice and good reading in advance!



Take a look at this discussion that was held not too long ago.

You can also do a general search and find lots of advice…Rob

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Hi There! After much research and some trial and error, I have discovered that it’s very easy to make your own pin backs and it adds a bit of class. I use Sterling for the components EXCEPT for the pin stem. I use spring back stainless steel wire for that, it’s the BOMB. I get it from McMaster-Carr and the order number is 8908K38. It comes in a tube of straight, 12" lengths. I have a file dedicated to stainless steel, which i use to shape the point. I also recommend the book BEHIND THE BROOCH: A Closer Look at Backs, Catches and Pin Stems. It will give you lots of ideas and approaches to making your own backs. It’s fun.

Thank you so much! This should be super helpful!

I will check out the book for sure. I am almost as much a fool for books as I am for tools!

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I suppose you can make your pin out of steel, but the books I have consulted just advised using sterling and twisting the wire to make it springy enough for a pin and then sharpening it. Then you don’t have a problem with hallmarking something as sterling when it has steel components. -royjohn

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Hmmmmm. Good point. Can you harden sterling enough to make it as tough as necessary?

Yes, you can make it springy…in fact, if you harden it too much, it will get brittle, but twisting the wire for the pin will work to make it springy enough…you can experiment until you get the hang of making it just springy enough…-royjohn

I find that sterling silver and yellow gold make for lousy pin stems. They tend to bend and fatigue, sometimes to the point of breaking. And they don’t hold a sharp point. A proper steel alloy works,
( not all steel alloys work), but then you cannot legally hallmark your work as sterling or gold. When I work in silver I always use kiln or work hardened Continuum silver for things like a pin stem, or a tension based clasp. Before Continuum was available I used a nickel white gold alloy on silver pieces.
When working with yellow gold I always use nickel white gold for the kinetic parts. It’s something one finds in high end fine jewelry that is expected to last a life time and longer.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry