Though I have etched some larger pockets for animal figures to be
inlaid into steel, I’m not sure that you can get narrow line channels
to work - but then I’ve never tried etching in white gold - I’ve
always just engraved the channels.
Don’t try to use a “dull graver” to punch down your gold inlay. Make
yourself a brass punch and use it with a light weight chasing
hammer, you’ll do less damage to the adjacent surfaces
The larger pockets I mentioned still need quite a bit of work after
the initial etching when done in steel. We just use the etching to
remove the majority of the material - then go back and put in the
undercuts and locking crosshatch or “spikes”.
You would not be using these crosshatches or spikes on the white
gold base, because they would just mash flat when you hammer the
inlay into place. You will have to depend on a “dovetail” lock.
If you succeed in getting your lines to etch, I would probably
undercut the dovetail with a high speed rotary tool - one of the
electronic or air turbine tools - using.25mm cutters. A regular
flexshaft only goes 14,000 rpm max, and will tend to “walk” where you
don’t want it to.
You could also use a specially ground inlay tool in a power assisted
impact handpiece to displace the metal and form a “dovetail” to lock
the wire into place. I don’t have any images of this tool… we
usually make them in class and then demonstrate how to use them. One
of those things that’s much much easier to show someone than
24K gold - if kept completely grease free - will cold weld to itself
when hammered together. There is no need for solder if it is done
You can combine wire, rows of wire, and sheet pieces - allowing
enough extra material at the junctions to hammer your cold weld. Plan
ahead, and think about what is going to hold the inlay in place when
it gets wider…
Yes, I would put the inlay in slightly higher than the final surface
and sand down flush if that’s to be your final surface.
Be careful with your sanding, fine gold is soft and gummy and can be
dragged right out of your channel, leaving a depression. This can
also happen in your final polishing stages if you aren’t paying
Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
Stockton, CA USA