Hi Guys, I have a question. A customer of mine is a chemistry
teacher. He spilled mercury on his 14kt yellow gold wedding ring
he just bought from me less than 6 months ago....
G’day; My wife who also worked in chemistry got mercury on her
wedding ring. It was easy to remove in the lab situation by putting
the ring on a tripod and gauze, in a fan ventilated fume 'cupboard’
and heating it with a bunsen burner until the ring became completely
black with copper oxide and free from mercury (the ring was 9 carat
gold - all I could afford!) I then tipped it into 10% sulphuric acid,
and the black almost disappeared in a short while. I buffed it with
tripoli (which is fine pumice powder bonded with soap or wax) and
finished it by buffing with rouge, then a clean buff and the ring
was just like new; she still wears it. Several students over the
years came with the same problem and the same result was happily
Possible problems:- Mercury vaporizes below the temperature of gold
solder, so you don’t need to heat it too strongly; NOT to red heat,
for instance. Mercury vapour is poisonous, and must not be inhaled,
so the vaporization must be done in the open; watch which way the
wind is blowing! Or do it close to an exhaust fan.
Someone may suggest the mercury is dissolved with strong nitric
acid, which won’t dissolve gold. No, it won’t, but you’ll have
mercuric nitrate solution which plates gold with mercury very nicely!
If an attempt is made to abrade the mercury from the gold, it won’t
be very successful; for mercury being a liquid at room temperature,
will rub over the the place just abraded and you will have to keep on
with it. Some will adhere to the abrasive and give the same result.
If the ring holds stones, then so long as they are diamonds, or of
the corundum family, such reasonable heat will not spoil them. But
don’t suddenly cool them in the pickle - there is danger of them
cracking. Heat and pickle sensitive stones must be removed before
treatment. The whole business takes only a few minutes. Don’t
charge and you’ll have a grateful customer to tell friends how good
you are! – Cheers for now, John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua,