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Depletion gilding on sterling silver

I know there is a long article on this already available on Ganoksin
but I would like to hear how people manage with firescale and how
they do depletion gilding. I already use the de-natured
alcohol/borax mix and flux on all pieces but when making silver
boxes, they are repeatedly subject to the torch and firescale seems
to be inevitable!

I think I am doing the depletion gilding correctly but would love to
hear how others use this method on silver.

My method:

I gently (bushy flame) heat up the piece evenly until the first
obvious signs of oxidization appear, then I quench the piece in
clean pickle (citric acid), then I dry slightly and brush with brass
wire brush and finally I wash the piece with dishwasher soap and
warm water. I repeat this 6 + times. I think this is working but am
afraid of it coming back!

Also what I don’t quite understand is that if I want some areas of a
larger piece to have a high polish, certainly final finishing the
piece and then doing depletion will matte the high polished areas.
So do I then return and give those specific areas another polish
with rouge? Any help, insights, thoughts welcomed! Thanks

Emma Tallack

If you add up all the time you spend annealing pickling etc on
sterling, and you then still not sure that your plan will give the
results you want, you might just as well scrap the use of sterling
and go strait to using argentium. Make once, polish and sell. A much
better use of your time in my opinion.

However, if you insist in using sterling, then using borax and
alcohol as a protective is really the bottom line in anti oxide

To really dissolve fire stain out of sterling you need to move up
into using a much more reactive flux solvent. Like Johnson Mattley’s
stainless steel grade of brazing flux. This will actually dissolve
copper oxide ie fire stain out of sterling as well as the copper.
This will leave the silver almost pure for several thous thick…

You can buy it by the pound as a dry powder.

This will actually dissolvecopper oxide ie fire stain out of
sterling as well as the copper. This will leave the silver almost
pure for several thous thick..

Copper oxide (Cu2O) is red and not the same as cupric oxide (2CuO)
which is black in color Cupric oxide is firestain…

Copper oxide is formed on the surface.

Cupric oxide is inside the silver.