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Inlay gold intricate pattern



I am new to this process so I was hoping I could find help here. I
would like to inlay an intricate pattern of 22K gold into a cuff of
another base metal preferably oxidized silver. I am using 22K to have
the rich color. After doing some research i wanted to see if chemical
etching was the best way to carve the design out of the base metal. I
was planning on melting 22K gold into the etched portions and then
filing off the excess. Is this a viable approach? I was told that 22K
gold and silver have near the same melting points and may cause

Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated!



The way I was taught was to cut the depressions with burrs and
graverers causing a slight undercut. 22k close to a good fit but
thicker than needed, beat 22k in with a hammer and file flush.

You could probably cast the 22 into undercut areas but I would still
hammer it down, there is no bond between the the two metals.


Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing

After doing some research i wanted to see if chemical etching was
the best way to carve the design out of the base metal. 

At the least, it’s a good way to get a start on it if you wish. A
key requirement for normal inlay (done cold) is that the carved lines
be undercut. You could start with an etched design, then use burs or
gravers to undercut the lines more if you wanted. Traditional methods
just use gravers or chisels from start to finish. They have one
advantage in that it’s possible to carve the lines so that a raised
burr is formed on the sides of the lines. As the gold is
driven/hammered into the lines, that bur folds back down, further
locking in the gold. This method, that of simply hammering/punching a
soft annealed gold wire down into the grooves is the usual method for
such inlay, and 22K is soft enough that it’s not hard to do this. I

I was planning on melting 22K gold into the etched portions and
then filing off the excess. Is this a viable approach? I was told
that 22K gold and silver have near the same melting points and may
cause problems. 

You’ll be melting the silver before the 22K flows. not a good idea
with those two metals. You could flow in a lower melting gold solder,
but 22K gold is pretty high melting stuff. won’t work. If you were
planning to inlay the gold into platinum, then your plan would work
fine. I’ve done that with24K into platinum any number of times. Easy.

You “might” be able to inlay 22K gold into silver via bi-metallic
casting, where rather than just torch melting the gold into silver,
you cast it. Especially with centrifugal casting, so the silver and
the flask can be cooler, the gold might be able to cast into and
fuse to the silver without a lot of damage to the silver. Not sure of
this, but it might work. Spruing for the pattern might be complex,
as you’d not want the gold to have to flow very far within the
silver. You’d want it so that the gold would be freezing pretty
quickly after it contact the silver, so that any melting taking place
is limited.

The other way to do this obeys the usual rule of bimetallic casting,
which is to cast the lower melting metal into/onto the higher melting
one. So if you make your intricate design in the gold, and then cast
the silver plate down onto it, you’d not have the melting problems.
Again, designing the models for casting might take some thought…



This is probably better done with engraving.



I would agree with Ms Brubaker.

I don’t remember who initiated this thread, but I would recommend
that you look at James Meek’s book “The Art of Engraving”. The
responses that I’ve read seem incomplete probably because of all the
detail that one would have to provide to be complete. James Meek, in
Chapter Seven ‘Advanced Engraving’ gives complete info on this
technique with lots of visuals so that the reader can understand
what’s involved in the process.

It’s a fairly sophisticated process that requires engraving skills,
but it is the best way to inlay one metal into another metal.



Hello Vikas,

I would simply use sharp gravers keeping your sharpening stone of
choice handy as you’ll need to resharpen them periodically since
sterling will dull them in a few passes) and excise the design into
your metal(s). An under cut can then be easily made with an inverted
cone bur or any bur you like to give the 22kt wire a place to expand
and ensuring a firm hold in the next step. Inlay the shaped wire most
appropriate into the space and using a rosewood or other lightweight
non marring mallet pound the anealled wire in place against a
polished steel bench block. The 22kt wire will expand and fill the
opening without a lot of force, just match the gauge to the design as
closely as is possible without exceeding the size of the excision.

Then pass the whole through a rolling mill to flatten. It is not
necesary to solder the 22kt in place with this method, though you can
flux everything after cutting the design, build up a coating of flux
on the shaped wire before placing it into the channel you create with
the gravers, and set some pallions of 22kt easy solder into the
design, flux everything again after inserting the wire with the
mallet and heat it from underneath using a tripod set-up- but that is
the hard way to go…The undercut helps hold it in place permanently.

Alternatively, you can cut your design out using gravers and/or burs
and flood the openings with 22kt easy solder, but that requires a
lot of clean up and risks making a hole in the piece depending on the
heat source and how evenly you can keep it distributed with your
torch and talent…The first method is foolproof and easy to execute
with excellent results as long as you plan your design well, match
the shape of wire to the excisions and ensure a good undercut to hold
it tightly in place. After pounding the anealled wire into the cuff
or metal, you can re-aneall the sterling and burnish the design to
help hold it (and move a small amount of metal over the edge of the
gold as well) in place if you don’t have access to a rolling mill.
22kt gold being so very malleable will not become damaged from the
quick anealling of the sterling, in fact it will help tighten the
silver around the gold as anealling expands the alloy’s structure to
some degree, albeit small.

If you quench the sterling in anything this is one time I would
definitely use methyl alcohol instead of water or oil, however if you
let the piece cool to gray then dip in water that would be acceptable
too! If using oxidized silver as your base the alcohol will help
preserve the colouration and cool the piece down faster than water or
oil quenching, oil being completely unnecessary in this case unless
you are trying to spring harden the base metal before finally forming



I think the ‘normally’ recommended way is to make each line with two
cuts of a lozenge graver - one cut with the graver leant over to the
left and the other with the graver leant over to the right. This
produces a small undercut and the line has a small ridge down its
centre. The gold wire is then hammered into place and the ridge
helps to force the gold into the undercuts.

Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK