On the other hand I'd hate to see this piece butchered by someone
who 'thought' he could fix it. But is that my responsibility? Do I
do the best I can, or plan for someone else's shortcomings?
Don’t make your jewelry in anticipation of it getting in the hands
of some butcher. If that happens, nothing you can do will fully
protect it. Instead, do the best job you know how, to make the best
jewelry you can. And advise your customers that if the work ever
needs repair, you’d be happy to do it right, and are in a position to
do a better job than some local hack while you wait repair shop…
Besides, in the case you describe, one could drill out the laser
welds to remove the old hinge wire, were it needed to replace the
clip. Only a little harder to do than if the wire ends are just
peened over in the first place. (balling them up isn’t a good way to
do it, since as you note, it make them catchy, even if the little
balls are decorative. Rivet them over and they can end up almost as
flush as if welded. Just takes longer, and is only “almost” as close.
And if you don’t have a laser, you can still weld them, if you’ve got
a small very hot torch flame. Ball up that rivet wire end right, and
the melting ball can be just barely fused to the omega clip body, the
same as you’d do with the laser. Takes a bit of practice, but works.
The clip itself is protected from the brief heat both by being a
physicall seperate piece of metal some slight distance away, and
because you can put a pair of cross lock tweezers across the omega
clip wire heat sinking it so it isn’t affected by the heat.