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Claws keeps snapping off

Please, please help! My claws keep snapping off at the joint when I try to bend them for the first time after soldering them. Something else to note is that the claws are very hard after soldering. Any advice would be precious!
Other detail -
Im soldering silver and using silver paste solder.

Its a nightmare!!!

Thanks, Kate

Have you tried annealing the whole thing before attempting to set stones? To do that, heat the whole piece to dull red, then quench immediately. Heating it from underneath using a trivet and screen will help avoid melting delicate protrusions.

Kate, a couple points to note. First, paste solders are often the easier, lower melting solders. And they sometimes can seem to have fully flowed, when they have not actually done so. Try switching to sheet solders, using clipped paillons placed next to the tightly fitted seams. Try to use at least z medium flow solder. Hard is even better. The higher melting the solder, the stronger the joint.

Next, and this is important, design your piece so the claws of prongs are not being asked to bend right where they are soldered on. Usually, the bending point, and where the seat is cut in the prong (if you are cutting a seat) should be above the solder seam, not at the level of the solder seam. Unless you are using hard or IT solders, the seam will always be a bit weaker than the silver itself, so dont ask the seam to bend.

Then, you say the claws are hard after soldering? Why? You should be starting with annealed soft metal for the claws. In order to have them harder, you have to have only heated it to below annealing temps, and then cooled quite slowly. This isn’t actually easy to do, especially if using actual silver solder. Please make sure the solder you use an actual silver solder, an alloy if silver, copper, and zinc. Melting at temperatures above 1000F where your silver is near to glowing. Not some of the confusingly labeled silver-containing low melting solders that are primarily tin with a bit of silver. These are commonly used for repair at temperatures from 200 to 450 F, similar to electronics lead solders. They have little strength, and would never hold a prong in place. Sold with names like “TIX”, “Stay-brite”, and others. When you are using actual silver solders, let the metal cool until it is no longer glowing, and then quench in water. This assures that it won’t age harden from too slow cooling.

And finally, please be sure you have not accidentally used a metal other than silver. Accidentally soldering on prongs of “nickle silver”, or stainless steel binding wire, or similar, when the piece is sterling, will give you very hard prongs that just snap off… it would seem difficult to make this mistake, but its not. Prongs are small and the color difference might not be obvious… if you are not sure, use a little silver oxidizing solution, or liver of Sulphur, to blacken a tiny spot and be sure it reacts the same as other, known to be silver, stock does.

Hope that helps.
Peter Rowe


Thanks for your advice Andrew,
No I haven’t purposely annealed the setting before adding the claws but, with all the soldering, snapping of claws and re-soldering I think the setting is officially annealed at this stage but, I will try annealing a test piece and anneal the claws, solder and see where we are.
Thanks a million!
Ill let you know what happens.


Kate, you say that the prongs keep breaking off at the point you bend them.
This is not the area that you soldered them on to your jewelry, I assume from that?
If so, then this does not seem like a failure of your soldered seam, but possibly of work hardened, or porous metal.
Have you annealed your wire before making prongs from it? I work mostly in Gold, but especially in white Gold wire that I am using to make prongs from needs to be annealed first.
As suggested above, you might try to reanneal your entire item once the prongs are all attached, and before you begin to set any of the stones.
Not working much in Sterling, I am having difficulty seeing why a prong in a metal I personally see as too soft for setting valuable stones in securely, should be acting as yours is.

Keep us up to date on your progress.

Peter thank you sooo very much for all information,

I am so grateful to you for taking the time to help me out here. The backstory to this clasp is that I had someone make it many years ago to my design and now I have quite a high-end gallery interested in the necklace it is attached to and I have just noticed how badly finished it is, so I have been doing some repairs. The first thing that happened was, one of the stones fell out. They are all cabs and because at the time I had no real stone setting experience, I had the maker glue them in. I now realize that was a big mistake. Hence my attempt to add some claws and do a better job. My plan was to add two claws and some glue. What do you think about that idea? Are two claws too few? (probably a stupid question) I have never added claws before but it’s the only option right now and I’ve got to meet the challenge. Epoxy resin probably the only glue option? 24hr setting?

Now to address some of your points.

The silver solder paste I am using is Hilderbrand & CIE SA from Switzerland (CF 67 H722 E -2). Metal = 65% (680 degrees C) PRO 96415
I will try pallions in future but I am stuck with this choice for now. How can I make it work?

The claws are being asked to bend at the solder joint. I have them sitting right on the edge of the bezel. So, as you say if the solder hasn’t fully flowed and connected it should snap. I have not used any flux either… I sound like a real twit now don’t I? But, even with all the frustration I have learned a lot and thanks to you, Andrew and the Ganoskin family I will gain more valuable insight.

Do you think the claws are hard because I didn’t anneal them before soldering? I have taken them off quite a few times and re-soldered them (without pickling) and to be honest… they should be well and truly annealed by now but, as I mentioned to Andrew, I will try annealing a test setting with new annealed claws and see how it goes. But they are rock solid right after soldering. I noticed this happen with a ring I was working on where when I soldered detail to it, it cracked so easily… Why would that happen? Is it as in this case because the area around the solder joint wasn’t annealed? I wasn’t using Argentium.

I am 100% sure that I am using sterling silver. I am using sterling half round 18GA (dead soft) wire. But, it’s not dead soft anymore :slight_smile:

See Images of clasp below.

Thanks very much Peter,I’ll keep you up to date.




Looking at your images I have a much clearer concept of the job.

Were it me ( and I do much of this in my repair work) I would cut a “notch” down the edge of each of the bezels for my new prong to fit into.
This way I could solder the wire in place, and do all of my “bending” well above the soldered seam.
Bending any soldered seam adds a lot of risk of failure.

Of course, having a laser, I would also be inclined to weld the prongs in place, using the same method as if I was going to solder them with the torch. Welds can also fail if they are stressed too much.

I would also suggest that Every time you solder, you use flux. This prevents oxidation within your new seam, and is a very important step


That’s a really smart idea James!!

It makes complete sense. I will try it out on a test setting first. How many claws could I get away with? looking at the cab shapes where would you put the claws. You can see where I have them right now, would that positioning work? added with a bit of glue to hold everything in place? or would you avoid the glue altogether?

Thanks, Kate

I see no reason that your choice of adding two prongs in that orientation would not work well.
You could do 4, but I think your current idea is more than suffivient, as long as your prongs are adequate.
Glue is something I avoid like the Plague, unless I have no choice, as to me it speaks of desperation, or cutting corners.
If you can secure your stones with prongs then you should not need any epoxy at all.

Brilliant!! Two claw shuffle it is:) To be honest I hate glue too! It’s soo messy.
Thanks for yr advice and support.

Buy this book. I use it to teach my students how to build crowns for stones. It comes with templates too. And please in the future do not glue stones in place unless they are pearls with pegs.
It’s available on Amazon.

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Oh and I forgot to add that paste solder is not ideal for soldering. It tends to be brittle and break easily. All of the jewelers I know won’t tough the stuff.

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I don’t know whether this is allowed but if you want that book I would be doing a price comparison with Rio Grande. There seems to be a large price difference.

Thanks for the heads up on the book being at Rio for $24.95. $82 for a 32 page book is way too high for me. Isn’t this info available elsewhere also? After all, making settings is not a black art… -royjohn

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Thanks Jo,

I will have to make some changes. I started out in a repair workshop and thats all we used so… I didnt know any better. Great to get your feedback.


Yes! BIG difference in pricing… Roy

Thanks very much James for your advice. Cutting a section and soldering the claws in worked great! I used 1mm wire filed down on one side and now I’m looking at cutting and shaping the claws. I am being extra careful because I only get one shot at this and I’ve got to get it right the first time. I cannot replace the stones either sooo there is absolutely no pressure :- 0
Any tips on shaping the claws would be much appreciated. I love what this jeweller does with her claws. It’s inspiring!

Thanks everyone!