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First time working with 18K yellow gold


#1

Good morning!

Thus far I’ve only worked with sterling silver, but I’ve designed and carved wedding bands in wax for myself and my fiancee to be cast in 18K yellow gold. These will just be simple bands with no soldering, stone setting, engraving etc.

Once I get the bands back from my caster (who cuts off all sprues and give the pieces an initial clean and tumble) I’m wondering what is different about working with gold (besides the price tag of the material!). For instance can I use the same files as I use with my silver if I make sure they’re cleaned well first? Are there certain flex shaft polishing attachments that work well with yellow gold or conversely should not be used with gold?

I’m anticipating I’ll need to grind a little where the sprues were attached and then polish the bands, and I’d love to know about any gold tricks or hangups to be aware of before I make a costly mistake! Also any basic resources for working with gold you’d suggest?

Thanks in advance!
-Rachel


#2

As far as I know, you don’t have to worry about contamination as much as you would if you worked with platinum. I don’t see how any attachments would be different either, 18K is softer than sterling.

I have no idea as I’m not a professional jeweler but from what I’ve read over these 8 years of being self taught is that it seems once you can make/sell 18K and up you won’t want to ever go back. It’s a dream to work with like casting and soldering compared to any type of silver. I have trouble even with premium silver alloys like Argentium. I don’t have the clients at all for 18K as I do this as a hobby but if I did, I would’t go back. I’m sure though that my struggles are because I’m not properly trained and not really the fault of silver alloys.


#3

You can use the same files for silver and gold. Biggest difference is it won’t tarnish like silver and easier to solder but it is softer than 14k. 18 k and up in karatage its harder to get that super high luster because the metal is softer but 18k you can still get a good polish on with a progression from file to 220 grit paper to 400, then a hard felt wheel then a muslin buff with fabulustre or similar. If these are the only rings you’re really doing in gold you can use your silver polishing equipment.
18k is euro stamp 750 or 75% gold. 14k is 585. It’s got that warm oranger color. If you see gold chains from India or Thailand etc. They are really high karat like 20 to 22. That stuff you almost have to burnish to a shine and it’s very orange (or gold color). The surface just smushes around and doesn’t polish well. The gold in those is so soft the clasps are just U shapes that you bend open to take off.
You’ll like 18k.
If the sprue is significant you can saw off pieces that you can play with later. Make granules for eutectic bonding or pull some wire, or see how flat you can hammer it. SD


#4

And you’ll like yellow -green, or Hoover and Strongs 18kt royal yellow even better. So much easier to solder, and the customers love this color.


#5

Thanks for your input Rick! I’ll keep in mind that it’s softer than sterling and maybe start with gentler polishing tools, I don’t want to wear too much of that expensive metal away. I’m excited to see how gold feels after only experience with silver and base metals. Hopefully not too amazing because it certainly won’t be a regular thing for me to work with!

-Rachel


#6

Thank you for sharing your experience Shannon! Luckily I’m planning on a softer satin/brushed finish for the bands so I won’t have to worry about getting them up to a high polish but good to know how to go about it if I change my mind. If I do try for a higher polish do you think a felt wheel on the flexshaft with Zam compound might work in the place of a muslin buff with fabuluster?

Sadly I don’t have a maker’s mark so I don’t believe I’ll be able to quality stamp these rings. I’ll keep your suggestion for any extra sprue material in mind (I did have to google eutectic bonding!), my caster generally cuts them very short to non-existent but a little extra gold would be fun to play with!


#7

You’ll really gonna love working with 18 kt. It’s muuuuch easier to solder and finish than silver. No special tools needed.
If you need to size the rings for any reason be sure to use 18kt hard solder or fuse with a piece of the same metal.
Have fun and welcome to the world of gold.
-Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com
https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=jo%20haemer%20gold%20and%20platinum%20smith


#8

Just wanted to updated this to say that our wedding rings turned out great, and I’m now a bit addicted to working with gold! Thanks again to everyone who contributed their knowledge! :hugs: