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First time with gold

A friend has asked me to make a pair of stud earrings for her using two small (5mm) garnets she has supplied which are in a ring, she does not want the ring. She wants the earrings to be made using yellow gold and she has given me a small cross (which she has been told is gold) to melt and turn into wire for for the earrings.
She does not think the ring is gold, however I scratched both the ring and the cross on unglazed ceramic and both had gold colored scratches that look the same as the scratch from a known 14K gold piece.
The cross has no hallmarks, the ring has two: 1) a rabbits head with a “3” next to it, and 2) a “G1” mark. Some googling suggests the ring is a Czeck production and the rabbit’s head with a “3” means .9 silver, but the ring is clearly gold colored, so maybe plated ?
I’m going to assume that I will not know the karat of the gold cross. Any advice here ?

The earrings I will be making, I have made in sterling several times and always go through hard,medium and easy solder. Is this the same procedure I should follow for the gold soldering steps? Also, should I use the lowest karat gold solder I can get in case the gold piece is a lower karat piece. The gold piece she is supplying is sentimental and its important to her to have that gold become the earrings.
Any other advice? I feel like I need to by some gold wire and solder to practice first since I dont want to destroy her gold.

danb43736,

In my opinion, re-using old metal in new jewelry isn’t a good idea. I’ve tried it, more than once with unsatisfactory results.

First off, I found that you need about twice the amount of metal to begin with, as what the finished piece will be. If you add new metal to the mix, and there is any remaining, it can be contaminated and unusable, and should not be sold as 14k or 18k.

Mixing unknown metals ~ brittleness, & porosity.

When using known metals that are stamped, but from different manufactures you run the risk of ~ brittleness, & porosity. Different manufactures use different combination of alloys that won’t blend well together.

I was told that some gold manufactures will use trace elements like zinc, that makes the metal flow better, this is then burned off in melting, and new metal needs to be added to your old remaining metal if it’s to be melted again. In casting for example. But, here again combining metal from unknown sources, you run the risk of ~ brittleness, & porosity.

Another reason ~ very disappointed clients, when it doesn’t turn out the way they thought it would.

Tjones

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Thank you for the advice Tjones. I will keep it in mind. Unfortunately, I have no other options, fortunately, I am not a professional and this is just a favor to a friend. I will make her aware of the downsides.

Dan,

I have to tell you I work with gold and this is a project I would not take based on what you have told us. Half your metal is unknown to you and may be silver. Some of the metal sounds to be enameled and you may be considering melting a nice piece of old European work. I would try and talk her into the earrings you already make in silver only make them in 14 K yellow gold. That way you have a better idea what to expect. And buying gold wire to work with to get the experience to work on your friends project may be expensive.

Doing a friend a favor is a great thing. The better favor may be in saying I am sorry I can’t do this particular project.

Don Meixner

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I agree with the advice others have given you. You can recycle old gold objects if you know the karat and they are clean of solder and other metals. Keep in mind that to get to a finished piece with enough stock to complete your project, you will need more metal to start with than you finally use. Depending on how you cast it there may be a sprue or you may just need enough extra to be able to handle it while you forge it, roll it or draw it. If have done what you are being asked to do, but was always given enough known scrap to get to the point where I could make the piece that my customer wanted. I always precaution them that the project may not work and that they will lose the original objects. Good luck…Rob

Well, my project turned out wonderfully and my friend was ecstatic with the outcome. I took the two stones out of the ring and then carefully cut the setting portion away and saved it. I melted the gold cross and produced a tiny ingot which yielded a 70mm long, 1mm diameter gold wire. I incorporated the gold wire and saved setting , reset the stones , added a few bits of sterling wire to tie everything together and a sterling bail and made a small pendant. I’m not a professional, so I had nothing to loose in taking this on. I do very much appreciate the advice that was given!

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