I want to include gems in settings on my enamel cloisonne pieces- fine silver bezels on fine silver backing. Problem is- how to attach the bezel. I fire the enamels at up to 1480F. Regular easy to hard solder won’t stand up to that (that is my understanding.) I’ve used eutectic solder for jump rings and ear wires and that seems to hold up in the kiln. Anyone have any other suggestions and is it possible to fuse the bezel to the pendant- that would be the cleanest? If so - has anyone one had success in doing so?
Use tightly fitted bezels and use a minimum amount of hard solder, or better yet, I.T. solder if you can find it. When soldering, keep the heat there a bit to keep the solder melted a bit longer. The solder will slightly dissipate into the silver just enough to reduce the degree to which it will repeat. Even if it tries to melt while firing the enamel, you should find the bezels staying put, since likely, not all of that solder will still melt. If you used I.T. solder, its likely that it won’t melt a second time.
Hi Peter, regular solder reacts with the enamels, it won’t work in this application- and that is why I use eutectic silver solder that contains no zinc to attach ear wires before enameling- not easy to work with but does the job. I can try a bit of the eutectic to solder the bezels in place- I will give it a try.
I am far from an expert so I’m sure others have thoughts.
In my experience either fusing (fine gold/silver) or using IT solder should solve your challenge.
I think IT solder is not alloyed like others it is very close to mother metal in terms of purity I don’t think it contains zinc but I’m not 100%.
I’m sure someone out there has a recipe for a zincless IT solder?
Halsted claims " The flow temperature of this solder is 1490F. IT Silver Solder contains silver (80%), copper (18%) and zinc (2%)" Seems like a minimal amount of zinc.
This is 10 degrees higher than you are using in the kiln. I have not had a problem with IT even with opalescent and transparent. Not sure of the composition of my IT solder had it for 20+ years.
Peter, I have seen a few references to I. T. solder. I have researched to find out what is meant. What is I. T. solder, why should it be preferred over others? Where is it available?
From Beth Katz in 2008:
It is not common practice to
use this Intense Temperature as a name for the 80% silver formula for
the solder as “IT” is much easier and faster. The periods after both
letters have been dropped in common usage. The solder itself is
composed of 80% silver and other part (20%) of the formula is made of
Please note that the “other part” of the solder does contain zinc,
which is why this formula (IT) should not be used when the intent of
your project is to use vitreous enamel over that particular spot to
which IT solder has been flowed. The zinc does not allow the enamel
to adhere properly; there is a chemical reaction which makes the
enamel bubble, chip or flake. This reaction may not happen in the
immediate time frame, but will more than likely happen in the future,
so it is prudent not to use IT for that particular application. IT
solder, can however, be used safely for the attachments of findings
before enameling is to take place and where enamel application will
not directly be touched by the enamel. IT solder melts at 1345 F and
flows at 1490 F.
When enameling over any join that you wish to hide, please elect to
use the Eutectic formula which contains only silver and copper as the
metals. The Eutectic melts and flows at 1435 F.
For silver solder there is It (Intense temperature), melting point 1490 degrees F., Hard, 1425 degrees F., Medium, 1390 degrees F., Easy, 1325 degrees F., and Easy-flo, 1270 degrees F.
There is also Eutectic solder that does not have a problem with vitreous enamel and melts at 1435 degrees F.
I will modify Peter’s suggestion of using IT solder and try Eutectic Solder for my pieces and then keep the enamel firings on the low end of temperature. I will also try isolating sterling designs and bezels on fine silver sheets that are fused to the main body of the piece- I think both of these techniques will allow me to add soldered elements to my pieces without running into problems with the enamel.
Instead of silver hard solder or IT solder, if the base plate and bezel are made of fine silver, you can solder the two parts with sterling silver or silver 925/000. The soldering or working temperature of these alloys is over 900 degrees Celsius. You can use niormal flux for soldering. These procedre I use since more than 50 years. Edmund
If you are using fine silver for your backings, then you could fuse a fine silver bezel to the back before enameling. You won’t have to worry about any solder and you will have a seamless join.
I fuse fine silver for bezels, jumprings and links for chains. If done correctly, there is no indication of a join and no solder to worry about. Both sides of the seam need to be heated evenly so one side doesn’t melt before fusing. Since I usually use sterling for backplates with fine silver, I solder the bezel to the backplate. You can try to fuse the bezel to the backplate too with just a torch but if the two metals are different thicknesses or sizes, the thinner one may melt before fully fusing. The thicker bottom backplate needs to be heated underneath first. Then add heat to the top. You may need to use two torches for better heat control, one on top/one on the bottom to get the metals to fuse well without melting.
If you use a kiln for enameling, you can work like with granulation - heating the metals in the kiln until they glow red and then concentrating the torch on the seam until the bezel fuses with the backplate. This is a more consistent heat source if you don’t have a second torch or another set of hands to help.
Before starting, be sure your metals are all cleaned well, free of oils on the fusing surfaces. A light sanding or cleaning with wet pumice powder works well. When fusing granulation, the back is coated with yellow ochre to prevent the bottom from overheating and melting. If you have a similar product used in enameling, that may work too.
Fusing the bezels closed is the easier part, getting them fused to the backplate will need some work. You could definitely do it, it will just take a little practice to see what method works best.