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Making gold nugget pendant

I’ve been asked by a cousin to make her mother’s wedding rings into
a gold nugget pendant with two 1mm diamonds set. Anyone with ideas on
how to proceed? Thanks, Brenda

Brenda- Back in the late 70’s-early 80’s when metals were high we
used to do them a lot. Sadly, I was especially good at it.

Pull the stones. Then melt the metal. Not to the liquid point but to
the temp where the metal is crumbly and chunky. At that point I
would get out a solder pick and start shoving it around and fusing
the pieces together in the shape I wanted. Be sure to do this on a
solid rather than a honey comb soldering block. Solder a bail on it
and set the stones. Then plate with 24 kt to make it look like a real

I’ll never do another again though. Some folks wanted their gold to
wear as a commodity not as a piece of fine hand made jewelry. That’s
what happens when metals get high in price. It turns into a commodity
rather than an artists material. Personally I think that they look
just like what they are. Lumps of misshapen scrap metal with old
solder and diamonds in it and a bail stuck on the top. As a designer
I’d much rather design and make a nice new piece of jewelry with the
customer’s stones and use the scrap metal for trade for fresh metal.

However it can be fun to squish and poke metal around. It’s a good
way to learn torch control and the limits of what you can do with

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer

Plenty of ideas. However, communicating them to a finished piece is
not easy.


a gold nugget pendant with two 1mm diamonds set. Anyone with ideas
on how to proceed? Thanks, Brenda 

Brenda, put your rings on a charcoal block and melt them together
well, so the alloys are well bended and the gold is homogenous. Then
let it cool - you can just let it cool to a certain point or you can
pickle and start over with heating. Heat it again on the block, but
this time just heat to a point where it wants to collapse. It’s hard
to describe, but there’s a point where the gold will be mushy but not
truly molten. Get a small carbon rod and just poke at it until the
shape is to your liking - heat, poke, heat, poke, keeping it at or
near that temperature. Pickle, bale, maybe tumble and then just pick
a spot to set your diamonds. It will be fairly flat on the back,
which most people don’t mind. If you want a true 3d nugget, you’ll
probably have to cast it.

This takes me back to the 70’s when I was learning to make jewelry!
This is FUN. You can cut a hole into a charcoal block the size and
shape you want the pendent. Leaving it rough inside, blow out the
fine dust and loss pieces. Place the ring on top and melt it into the
hole you and push and poke at it with your solder pick to make it
more irregular. The main thing is don’t over think it just play with
the metal. If you don’t like it heat it up a poke some more. Add a
beal and set stone. Have fun! I may go up to my studio and make one
for old time sake! Thank you for the memory…next I think I will
carve a wax bamboo ring Some time we all need to go back to where we
started and fell in love!


Hi Jo,

You have reminded me of one of my earlier responsibilities as a
relative newbie at one of the local firms in the 1970s.

I, too, had developed a feel for working semi-molten blobs of
mixed-karat gold and, once I pickled the assembled atrocities, and
then electro-stripped them to remove the rest of the nasty
oxidation, the recipients were overjoyed. The fumes we inhaled,
though, I can’t imagine. There were no fume extraction devices. I
think I held my breath as much as possible.

There has to be hundreds of them still around, to my horror. I never
plated mine, the electro-strip took care of the off-colour and the
cyanide vapour was like a ticket to heaven on any given day. A former
employer died of cancer in the mid-eighties. He was a hard-ass who
ridiculed me for trying to upgrade the safety regimen for the
company. When he was on his way out, he blamed the chemicals, the
polishing, the various contaminants, and vowed to document and
publish how dangerous the processes are. He never made it that far.

Fast forward; No plating or electrostripping in my shop. Our alloys
are all high karat and premium, and for a reason. Low oxidation
potential equals less labour to finish. High-white alloys don’t need
rhodium plating, ever. They weld beautifully without oxidation. My
staff will never get the cyanide whiff I have been accustomed to. I
wish the same for all of the tens of thousands of trade workers who
assemble and finish jewellery worldwide. Rhodium is a nemesis for
me, and if I had my way, nobody would be using it.


This takes me back to the 70's when I was learning to make

Isn’t this called learning to solder 101 :-).

Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing

Gold nugget jewelry… you can also take a broom and cut it off and
tie the fibers (natural not plastic…) together with wire and then
soak it in water for 30 min -hour. then melt your metal and pour it
onto the clump of fibers they will burn at different rates and will
give you a nugget look.

Vernon Wilson

I have made a lot of the the gold nugget looking jewelry from
customers old gold over my tenure as a jeweler.

I just used a charcoal block… melted the gold and as it solidifies
drag you soldering pick through it to create your design. Never the
same but does get the look. Then, to get the flat look I would use
an adolox disc to sand down on parts to give it the worn look.

Hi David

After reading your story about making gold nuggets and having no
protection against the chemicals, I was reminded of another jewelry
teacher who died of cancer. I used to work in a college, that has
such a bad jewelry studio, I would routinely get sick twice a year of
bronchitis. It was me and the other jewelry teacher who taught there.
I’ve heard of stories regarding that jewelry teacher and her complete
disregard for the dangers of jewelry making. She would pluck silver
right out of the nitric acid bath with her bare hand after etching. I
was horrified to hear that. In fact, there was a covered container of
acid in the storage closet. I refused to touch it and left that up to
Maintenance for disosal. The teacher developed skin cancer and then
it became brain tumors and she died not too long after. I can see it
was a direct result of her carelessness. Her tools were put up for
sale and they were so bad, it was amazing she could get any work
done. I would have to come in early, just to clean the jewelry studio
before I could get started on my classes, for she was that messy.
There was an open line of gas with one switch that was rather loose
that I’m surprised nobody got gassed. All that had to be addressed
before studio was finally upgraded to meet college accreditation

Now, I refuse to have all kinds of toxic chemicals in my studio.
Even red rouge is banned from my studio. I keep a vac next to the
buffer so that the buffer does not get full of buffing compounds and
dust. I’m alot more careful. I’m told I’m very organized and neat
when I’m teaching, and those are hard-earned lessons I learned.


you can also take a broom and cut it off and tie the fibers
(natural not plastic..) together with wire and then soak it in
water for 30 min -hour. then melt your metal and pour it onto the
clump of fibers they will burn at different rates and will give you
a nugget look. 

I’d completely forgotten that technique! Thanks so much, Brenda

I really hate to add to this, but… Besides the forementioned
charcoal block techniques (which work fine), I have also poured the
molten gold into rock salt. Dissolve the salt, and there you go. I
have also dumped the molten gold into water and then fused the
pieces together…all those years ago…