I have a co-worker who sizes rings in what he refers to as "the
European" fashion in which he takes the piece of gold removed from a
sizing, lays it over the top shank and heats the piece until it
melts into the shank as opposed to using solder. He then pounds the
ring to size (he never measures the piece) with a metal hammer. This
is not how I learned and fear this would cause porosity. I also have
noticed that it leaves severe hammer marks that he polishes away but
that to me seems like it is removing far too much metal. Has anyone
hear of or used this technique? Are there up sides to this that I am
missing? I'm receiving alot of pressure to use this method and won't
feel comfortable doing so until I have a little more
Thank you for your time and consideration.
interesting method. What he is actually doing seems to be fusingthe
two metals together. However, is he using a piece of the same karet
asthe one it is being fused to? Also, it seems there is a lot
ofwaste when he polishes out the hammer marks. His polishing buff
mustcollect a lot of gold. Hope he salvages it. Looking forward
towhat other have to say about this method. Alma
Theresa, I have worked with a few European trained goldsmiths and
that is not how any of them sized rings. When sizing other peoples
rings it's important that your work is undetectable when you're done
with the original shank not at all thinned or distorted. A minority
of bench people fuse the seams, most use solder. What I think is
alarming about the technique you describe isn't as much the fusing,
it's the hammering of the shank and the roughness of the work. It's
much better to be precise in all of your work, put in or take out the
piece you need to get it to the right size, solder it with as high
temperature solder as you can, and then carefully remove any excess
stock or solder without thinning the original shank. Doing it well
and quick get pretty routine after a few hundred sizings. I think
you're right to think you can do it better, pounding on it like
you're making horseshoes isn't the way to go. Stay strong, don't let
peer pressure cause you to pick up bad habits! Mark
sizing, lays it over the top shank and heats the piece until it
melts into the shank as opposed to using solder
sounds similar to welding platinum, which is how it was done where I
used to work. What you're describing was not standard procedure
where I used to work, a custom and repair shop on jeweler's row in
The only way to find out Teresa is to run some trials yourself on
some gold that not a customers ring! What works for one person doesnt
always work for another.
Not for me to critisize, but your co worker sounds as tho he had his
training in a car body shop.
Working on small scale metalwork needs precision, accuracy and
Do what works for you.
Theresa- Welding a sizing seam is a useful skill to have.
We always, when we can, weld a sizing seam rather than using solder.
It works best on 18kt and platinum.
I measure and remove the metal. Then I roll it out on my mill as
thin as it will go. I then use that super thin piece to weld my seam
old with a torch. it makes for an invisible seam that will not break
under the kind of stresses that the bottom of a shank is exposed to.
I take great pride in not thinning my sizing seams. I file the
inside first most of the way. Not all of the way. Then I round up if
ness on a mandrel. Just a couple of hammer strokes with a a rawhide
mallet. This also helps burnish the file marks on the inside of the
sizing seam so little or no emery is needed on the inside. Only then
do I file the out side of the ring. Now here's the trick. I only file
70-80% of the way to smooth. Then I use emery to finish and then
polish as usual. If you file it smooth and then remove your file
marks with emery you thin the sizing area too much.
14 kt doesn't weld as easily. For sizing 14 kt I will take 14 kt
hard solder and mix it half and half with 14 kt gold. Roll it out
thin and use that. For silver I use IT solder for sizing.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
this European method of sizing a ring is the preferred method by
European and Asian Masters, it is much faster, and it is in its pure
form of metallurgy, no soldering but fusion, which also means no
solder seamsor different color lines or blobs, there is very little
chance of porosityshowing after its been hammered and all the air
bubbles pressed and hammered out, if done correctly it is faster
cheaper and invisible, and on topof that the shank is now hammered
and hardened vs soldered and annealed. with all this said there are
those times that you can not utilize this method, I worked side by
side to a Chinese master ring sizer in one of the trade shops I
worked for, and he was so good at this system that he used itin
every imaginable scenario, the secret is to know your torch and heat
source very very well, be in control of it, and to know the alloys
that youare handling. this Chinese master hated to work in silver
because he did not like the way silver reacted to this method. with
practice I did figure out the silver method and came up with my own
formula and still use it. very different then the gold sizing. the
American style of sizing is more like engineering parts to perfectly
fit each other and then soldering them gently together with no gaps
or seams. the European style is more like a blacksmith-ing method of
forge fusing, not hot. parts do not have to fit but fuse well and
then hammer, carve and clean down to the shape and form needed. both
beneficial styles. I believe.
Atelier Hratch Babikian contemporary Jewelery and sculpture
That would be a really really, really great video.
I would happily pay a dollar to watch that one.
Better your gold ring than my customers'.
Best wishes.... John Stapleton
I wrote an article for Hoover and strong a few years back that has
illustrations of this process. If you are interested here is the
I didn't show the complete hammering done on the ring. Used carefully
a hammer can leave the surface quite smooth. Ask a silversmith. They
are experts with a hammer.
I also do hard welding sometimes, especially on higher karat alloys
(14 to 22), using my "little torch" and LPG/oxygen flame. Porosity
sometimes occurs in lower karat alloys (below 14k) especially those
containing zinc. I use steel punches with half-round concave faces
to chase the welded joints especially on half-round ring shanks
instead of direct hammering.
Fusing is welding, although I'd define welding more specifically as
a more directed and controlled process with a deeper penetration.
Before I got my pulse arc welder I torch welded many gold shanks,
including 14k rose and yellow golds. 18k yellow welds very nicely.
Palladium white seem to do so as well.
I still torch weld gold shanks. But almost entirely for pieces that
I have made (rather than a client's ring, etc.). If done well,
welding gives a truly seamless product. Any filler material is rolled
from the same stock that the original piece was made from. So there
is no difference in alloy and so color.
I always try to hammer my welds. It refines the coarser crystal
(grain?) structure of the welded area. Welds tend to be bulky to
begin with and hammering helps to begin the refining process. It also
tests the weld.
For what it's worth.
I have done both methods and still use both depending on the job. I
do not hammer though. Just fuse and sand and polish. Both methods
work and fusing works great if you are out of solder:-) you should
The only metal that I always fuse or weld when sizing is platinum. I
did have a good friend who was a great goldsmith who would fuse
everything he sized. We would compare work and have friendly
arguments about the merits of each method. What I didn't like about
fusing was that it melted and slightly rounded the edges of the shank
slightly beyond the seam. So when he finished it he had to reduce the
shank slightly. His argument was that if he wanted to avoid that, he
would roll and fuse a thin piece of the metal onto the seam, either
by putting it on top or inside the seam and melting it over and
around the seam without reducing the shank in any way. My feeling
about that was that If I use hard solder and do it right, I am
pulling the solder through the seam while his method likely did not
always penetrate fully though the seam. Neither of us had any
problems with comebacks or complaints. Really I found those
differences in technique and opinion to be one of the great joys of
working with a group of goldsmiths.
I'm not sure there is any such thing as the "European method", the
German trained guy who trained me made me dovetail every single ring
I ever sized up. He wanted a perfect fit on the joint and said I
should be able to drop it on the floor before I solder it and the
piece should stay in. Then solder it with high temp solder. He is
just one guy but he was trained in Pforzheim, a big jewelry town
with a pretty systematic training program. Mark
There's nothing wrong with forging a shank up as long as its not
more than a size or so. Heavy silver rings I've hammered two sizes.
White Gold you can't hammer much and it gets real hard. Fusing is OK
and sometimes might be necessary. I use white 19k weld solder to do
white rings Sometimes. I have fused gold onto spaces where metal was
missing, that works also. Have to use good flux and control the torch
Thank you kevin Lindsey, that is the technique I was talking about
and saying to use. hammerwork is key in forging and sizing the fuzed
rings, but youdo need to know how to use a hammer, where it leaves a
polished surface that needs almost no clean up. I like useing the
fusion technique for sizeing rings, but when one says fusion it
doesn't mean horseshoe making, onecan be extremely precise with
fusion, and precise hammering too. With this said I still say and
believe its good practice to know and use both techniques, the
fusion ring sizeing and the engineered ring sizeing.
I have used this method for sizing rings for over 25 years. I ran a
trade shop, doing repairs for the trade, sometimes sizing more than
150 rings day, using this method. If done right and the piece that's
was cut out of the shank was used for fusing, the sizing is
seamless, a perfect color match, and does not reduce the shank
Another advantage for sizing wedding sets this way is the joint is
not soldered and will not come apart when soldering the set together
like it can with solder.
I have never fused to size up a ring. But I make my rings with
shanks at least 2. mm thick.
I can easily size them up a couple of sizes with my planishing
hammer and it makes little difference to the appearance of the band.
The planishing is on the back of the shank.
It did take a few LOL tries to get good quality but practice makes
Fusing looks like a good method. And using smithing skills is always
When I am asked what the difference between a jeweller and a
silversmith I say I like to "hit stuff with a hammer" my answer to
ladies, for trades people I say I like to belt the shit out of metal,
especially when fusing and reticulating bangles, 20 oz mallet and
'smash the shit out of it!' I find it relaxing to really hammer hard
and I find it exciting to gently planish. Also I like the sound of
metal on mandrels with my leather mallet, the ping when rounding a
ring band lets me know it is round, before I even look.
Note I have used Australian colloquialisms, no rudeness intended.
two comments on the video, which is great.
I would use my new toy, a green shofu cylinder instead of the file
these things are great.
I also use paper tape on the mandrel/spindle to hold the sandpaper
These mandrels/spindles are one of my most used pieces. 800, 1200
and 3000 grits
I really enjoyed this video, my comments are only to show variation
in application of tools.
The video looked to be in real time so you can see how quick this
For the best results you want to hammer it. The fused area is very
different in crystal structure to the rest of the ring and the
transition zone between them is called the Heat Affected Zone (HAZ)
and can have very high stress in it. It can be an area liable to
crack if not dealt with. Forging will equalize out the strain on the
James Binnion Metal Arts