Gold solder inlay into silver, strategy


As you all know I made a couple hand forged rings for a couple who
were going to marry in April. They had to put off thier wedding
until 20 July in order to round up the rsvps on the brides side of
family. So I have extra time to attempt something really special:

I would first forge a new pair of fine silver bands. Then somebody
on thisgroup suggested that instead of engraving my lettering that I
instead pierce out the letters with a jewelers saw on a separate
piece of silver then solder. The letters will be Hebrew cursive. I
was to then solder that to my main ring using hard solder.

The next step I want to review for correctness. I have now 14k plumb
easy solder with a 1350 melting point. Will all I need to do is
smear lightly the pierced letters with stay-silv flux, then lay
paillions of gold solderand melt them into the recessed lettering?

I sure hope so. Also, I have questions where to put the lettering.
If Ihave the lettering along the outside circumference won’t some
letters meltand run while I try to establish the others. Running it
around the front or back would be easier for me and I think would
wear better but wouldgit be noticeable enough?

Please advise,

Andrew Jonathan Fine

Wedding bands, get more hard wear than any other jewellery, so using
silver with gold inlay wont last as long as say gold with silver

Be that as it may, you have set yourself a rather formidable task,
with the time frame at your disposal…

As you ask for guidance how to proceed, the 1st step is to run a
trial with a small piece of the ring section, flat on your soldering
carbon block, with one jewish letter pierced out, to see if the gold
solder has enough of a temp difference to fill the pierced areas
without damaging/melting the silver.

If you can succeed with this step, you have now 2 options, 1. make
the ring as a flat strip and replicate the above test for each
letter, then forge it round and solder up the join.

  1. or, proceed as you originally intended but mask the ring all but
    the letter your filling with say wet clay, to insulate the areas you
    want to keep cool.

As its a “first time” you might just want to run a trial with saya
copper ring with the letters filled with silver solder.

Running trials is the normal way to explore a new process.

Mind you, If it was me, id go a different route.

Id cut out the letters in the reverse on the heads of a steel
punches then strike the letters into the metal. Id be able then to
replicate this idea in many letter combinations and have a speedy way
to produce a profitable product to order. No different to all the
other punched designs ive used for many yrs. These are pictograms so
i can actually make a picture around say a bracelet to reflect the
clients lifestyle.

Finally, trying a different technique with every new project you do
is making a rod for your own back. Make say 10 of anything to develop
your skill level. Then tackle the next more demanding project.

Skill level is built up on repeated PRACTICE!!

NO I suggested the solder inlay (i think I was first), But you can’t
"smear " or puddle gold solder on a silver cut out and then attach
it to a silver ring. the melting and flow points are too different
and the silver would 'absorb" the gold, particularly if overheated…

You would just print out the lettering in the point size you want
and transfer it to the band (using at least 16 g. silver sheet) then
incise/scribe the shape of the hebrew lettering on the bands (do it
while they are flat “templates”:, the bands) and then refine the
depth and kerf of the outline of the letters with a fine dremel bit,
a 40 degree bur in a 1.2mm size, a tapered diamond bit, or krause
like microrasp (in other words - the smallest and sharpest bit or bur
you have). Next apply a firecoat/flux like Cupronil on the flat
bands- build up a few layers by warming the metal and letting it dry
fully before a next layer goes down-this will prevent firestaining
and work to indicate when the flux is near 1100 degrees f, then take
gold wire of a slightly, and I mean slightly larger diameter/kerf as
the channel you have made around the lettering and with a very light
rawhide hammer or non-marring fixturing material on a lightweight
jeweller’s or watchmaker’s hammer work the wire or solder (see below)
into the channel then heat.

Pre-polish the finished band and* if absolutely necessary* use
gradually finer grits of a wet-or-dry paper like Tri-m-Ite by 3M to
bring the gold and silver level and smooth- don’t use a file or
anything like tripoli, bobbing compound, sandpaper, etc. they have
too strong a cutting action.

-You can use paillions of plumb gold solder, although plumb wire
works/looks better for this as well and is easier to get into a
small space and less is more in this case- you want a contrasting
coloured metal that won’t melt the silver stock. So look up your melt
and flow temps and experiment making some lines on a scrap of silver,
and incising and puddling the solder or a wire. You may just want to
go with yellow silver solder and save the plumb gold solder for gold
projects. The stay silv/clean flux you seem to use a lot is for easy
flow low melt tin based solder that has little if any silver in it.
It’s fine for the solder that it comes with but not for soldering
with silver and gold. it may seem to work fine on soft copper as you
described in another project you wrote about but that’s precisely
what that solder is for copper pipe brazing, brass,bronze even if
it’s thinner gauges, electronics etc. a slightly different operation
that using sterling or fine silver and plumb gold…

Lets just say the.925 or 80/20 silver you have melts and flows
between 1485-1500 F, and the 14 Kt easy solder you have melts at
1375-80 and flows at 1400…that leaves a range of maybe 120 degrees
F. pretty easy to melt right through the silver even with the utmost
care. Every manufacturer’s solders melt and flow at a different
point. melting is when it is molten, flowing is when it moves along
the cleaned degreased fluxed line. that’s why I suggested some
practice with the scrap and solder or a cheaper yellow coloured
solder. The alternative is to use a cheaper yellow metal like
"jeweller’s bronze" to form the ring and solder pierce out the
letters (work intensive) then puddle the solder where you want each
piece to land on the straight band. Then you would have to form it
on a mandrel with a rawhide hammer, make sure the joins are perfect,
clean degreased no gaps, build a firecoat flux layer and then and
then quickly solder the rings closed. voila, done!..if you have
specific questions on how to inlay solder of a specific type please
contact me with the melt and flow point of the solder and metal and
gauge you will be using for the ring. I’d be happy to help. I love
solder inlay but only use hard plumb solders, so a bit of temp.
tweaking for what you have may be necessary… rer

1 Like

Hi Ted, RER:

Based on your advice.

  1. I’m using a fine silver shank (.999) which will have the highest

  2. I’m going to also create a .999 strip and either engrave or
    pierce with lettering.

  3. I will solder the strip to the shank with intensive silver solder
    (higher temp than hard).

  4. I will drop the 14K easy solder paillions inside each letter,
    then apply heat to flow.

  5. I’ll sand the outside of the strip to make the lettering level
    with the strip.

I’m not too concerned about wear on fine silver. This is going to be
a sentimental object worn to church or to family dinners only. They
will not be for constant use. The couple understood this when I
explained the care and use instructions.

This couple is getting these wedding bands for free, because they
are my test audience.

They have no problem because they cannot afford to buy real wedding
bands. They are both in their 30’s and seriously underemployed.

han repetition.

Every new skill I learn builds upon the ones I learned before, so I
get some repetition anyway. I am reasonably confident now about
rolling and cutting strip, forging a round shank, soldering pieces of
fine silver together with various temperatures of silver solder. and
using my small, medium, and large torches. Thanks for the tips.

Andrew Jonathan Fine

If you wernt so far away, youd be most welcome to nose around my
workshops for a day or so.

I had a hunch that you would succeed despite all your obstacles.

Keep up the good work.

Using “IT” solder won’t work. When you solder the strip to the band,
then add the gold - you said you were going to use PLUMB 14 Kt Y
solder, not EZ.- When you reheat the “IT” and band with strip (who
knows how thick this will be at this point even if pierced, the
strip) it will probably move! You will probably heat using a tripod
and stainless mesh to get an even heat on the entire band… fine,
but how much gold solder will you estimate you will need, (you could
easily estimate this using a piece of parchment under your work and
weighing the scrap based on the weight of the removed pierced out
lettering or bits from engraving + a little extra weight for the
difference in the relative weights of each metal- Ag and Au, and then
the “EZ” alloy)* without* having to do a lot of “sanding " after you
have gotten the band finished and ready to close? Which again
presents another heating problem as well as potentially knocking the
"strip” off while forming around the ring mandrel for each ring even
with a rawhide hammer.

I use fine silver all the time (very little sterling) and wear is no
problem as long as the gauge is appropriate for the type of piece
you are making. Don’t go lighter in gauge even if you decide you want
to play with spring hardening the silver. If anything go a gauge
heavier than you had planned for the band- the gauge for the
lettering isn’t as important (particularly if you are using higher
karat golds than 12-14) since it’s just going to serve as a
cloisonne, essentially for the solder as a contrast.

One interesting and colourful alternative may be to get some 14
karat green gold clay(it also comes in rose gold- a waste of money on
its own but the person that makes it sells a “sampler” of the green
and rose so you could have even more versatility) and it will fuse to
the fine silver make your lettering out of that. One strip, direct
transfer the lettering by scribe or tissue knife as large or small
thin or thick as you like, not to mention it gives you far more
design latitude and FAR less likelihood of problems in that after
firing/fusing the clay strip to the band (no need to even touch IT
solder, or any at all) it’s one simple solder to join the ends of the
band closed and voila done! Pack it up and give it to them. finito