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"Hardening ear wires"


" I am new to silverworking and have made several pairs of
earrings with soldered on 24 guage wires. I have tried working
the wire to harden it…" To harden these sterling silver pieces,
you might try heat hardening. You simply heat your pieces to
about 600 degrees F for 30 to 50 minutes. This will bring the
metal to about 3/4 hard. Let the sterling air cool before
pickling. You might also want to try using pripps or a
borax-boric coating on the metal to prevent firescale.

“I have also been making a bunch of simple half round sterling
wire rings. I am soldering with medium solder,quenching and
soaking 10 minutes or so in a diluted sulphuric acid pickle,
texturing with a hammer or a dapping punch, polishing
with a soft buff inside and out with red rouge, then a
cleaning with dish soap and if neccesary a little scrubbing with
a toothbrush and baking soda. The rings seem very
clean but I have had a couple complaints of green stains on
fingers after a day or so of wearing with a few
of the rings (not all?)”

The problem with the rings are coming from soldering technique.
Are you using a protective overglaze on your silver when you
solder (pripps, etc)?? The green stains on people’s fingers are
being caused by a copper oxide just beneath the surface of the
metal. The “firescale” you remove with the pickle is only half
the problem, because when you solder, a different kind of copper
oxide form within the metal itself. This will migrate to the
surface of the metal, turn the skin green and darken the surface
of the metal. I have had this problem many times and it can be
remedied with pripps flux, a borax-boric coating, or deplating.
If you want the recipe for pripps flux, look at the digest
archives at

Marshall T. Jones