We have had a number of mercury contaminated problems.
Our first problem with mercury on a ring gave puzzled us quite a bit
until we discovered it was mercury. We tried polishing a small area
and this would remove the mercury for a while but the ring would turn
white again as adjacent mercury flowed back over!
Another was a customer who returned a chain following a repair we
had done for her. The 9ct gold chain had turned to “silver” she said!
What had we done to it? Upon examination with a x10 loupe you could
see the surface was fluid - the mercury could be wiped off for a
moment and would then flow over again.
But we did not have a problem with mercury in our workshop so the
mystery deepened - it was, of course our fault. We would have to
replace her chain.
A few days later the owner came to tell us that her daughter had
broken a mercury thermometer in the drawer that she kept her
jewellery and was afraid to tell her!
The chain being a fine Prince of Wales link was wrecked, the mercury
had eaten right through it and it eventually crumbled.
A dental nurse came in once with her wedding ring turned white. The
fact that she worked for a dentist gave us a clue immediately -
dental amalgam (silver and mercury). We removed the mercury by
heating in a fume cupboard.
One thing we have learned is that any gold turning white must be
handled with extreme suspicion. We had handled and polished mercury