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Platinum re-tipping


#1

Help! I don’t have a lot of experience in working with platinum
and am faced with a challenge. I’ve taken on a job that requiers
rebuilding worn prongs. The thin prongs are on the inside of 2
trillion cut 1 ct diamonds, that sit right next to and tucked
under a 2 carat center stone. I think (and may be wrong) that the
temperatures needed to flow platinum solder are too high to
expose these diamonds to. Further, I don’t know if you can use
platinum solder to draw a tip like you can with gold solder. I
mentioned, as an alternative to removing the diamonds, using
white gold solder, but they don’t want that. I wonder if my only
remedy is to remove and reset the diamonds (the jeweler I’m doing
this for cringed at the estimate and told me the previous
jeweler had quoted him $50 some dollars, which couldn’t include
re-setting I’d think). Any input will be greatly appreciated.

Tom Tietze, The Artisan Workshop


#2

Tom,

None of the platinum solders are low enough melting to be even
remotely safe for retipping diamonds.

You have two options.

  1. Remove the diamonds, rebuild the prongs properly with
    platinum, and reset.

  2. Pretend it’s white gold, and retip the prongs with the
    diamonds still set, using the appropriate white gold solder, only
    the metal you solder to the tips should be platinum. If you are
    careful to file the existing tips good and flat, and fit the new
    platinum metal well to it, using a minimum of solder, the result
    can be acceptable looking, especially after a good rhodium
    plating to hide the color difference.

Comments:

If removing the stones and restoring properly, consider removing
the entire prong wire and replacing it, rather than just
soldering on a new tip. If the mounting allows that, the result
can be a like new mounting, instead of a repair. Platinum
solders, though better than white gold, are still not as strong
as the platinum itself, will show after polishing, and can break
at times. This is the same as with white gold solders on white
gold, but with platinum, it’s often easier to disect and rebuild
the setting this way, and often, the value of the mountings and
stones well warrants this care.

In retipping in general, your reference to "drawing the solder"
into a prong makes me cringe just a little. Use solder alone to
build up a prong only as a last resort. Any time you can, please
solder on new metal to a tip. Solder is not as strong or durable
as the gold being attached with it, and when you rebuild a prong
with only solder, the result won’t last well. Plus, you then
have used far more solder, and if the piece later needs
additional repair, you’re faced with all that solder flowing
again, usually into places you don’t want it to go. I do well
know that retipping this way is more work. but the results
usually justify it. Obviously, there are, and we’ve all seen,
examples where using only solder is really the only practical
way. but it’s a decidedly second best, and unfortunate choice.

Hope this helps.

Peter Rowe


#3

Hi Tom,

here is a recommended procedure for re-tipping a platinum prong.
By definition, re-tipping implies that the stones are in place
during this job. First be aware that NO STONE CAN WITHSTAND THE
HIGH HEAT OF ANY PLATINUM SOLDER…so you have to use a trick.
Clean the ring totally. Be sure there are no dirt or oil or
anything left on the stones or under them. Then loupe the stones.
Check if they are fracture filled. If all is done right, file the
prong tips flat and solder a small amount of 14k EASY white
solder on the tips. Yes I said 14k EASY white. File the solder
down so that only a very small layer of it is on top of the tip.
Now use some platinum wire, shape it like the prong and solder it
to the tip. CLip off the excess and shape the platinum to the
bead and polish. If you did it right, there should be only a very
small solder line between the tip and prong, that is almost
invisible. If need be, you can burnish it with a highly polished
tungsten burnisher and make it invisible. As you want to expose
the diamonds to as little heat as possible, 14k easy white solder
is ideal. JUST BE SURE IT IS CADMIUM FREE SOLDER, as cadmium can
migrate and cause problems later. Hope that helps. For more help
with platinum, call me at (949) 760-8279 or post here Have a
platinum day PLATINUM GUILD INTERNATIONAL USA Jurgen J. Maerz
Manager of Technical Education JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler


#4

Dear Tom This is a tip I got from a the place where I used to
take my repair work until I got good enough to do it myself …
IF you can fashion prongs to replace the worn ones you can then
solder them on with 18K white gold solder and the " line " will
not show! I have used this trick while resizing some Plat. rings
and have never had any complaints.


#5

Hi Tom, For 50 something, I think the jeweler pretends the
prongs are white gold and retips accordingly. If you pull the
stones and replace the worn prongs with platinum, it is much more
time consuming and you must charge a lot more. Let your customer
decide. Don’t, however let them make you feel guilty for charging
a fair price. Have a good day. Tom Arnold


#6

Hi Tom, We do this stuff all the time. Your customer doesn’t
want to face reality now, but they will see the light of day
eventually. They may have seem the $19.95 tune up special at the
Mart but I dought they’ll driving the Porche in there soon. To
go the dealership and say I can get it done cheap at the Big K,
just doesn’t fly. Push the good job and stick to price. Unless
there buying a 50. ct. diamond necklace then do it for free.
Jimbo @Zimmerman


#7

Yes you need to remove the stones. Stick to your guns on the
pricing. Platinum is always more expensive to work on.


#8

Jurgen Maerz of the platinum guild suggests 14kt whit easy
because he doesn’t like to expose the diamonds to the heat. 15
years ago I had a 0.18ct diamond turn pink when a garnet
inclusion vaporized during tipping.

Diamonds will burn take a chipped mellee and sit some plat
solder on it and go after it with the torch. See for yourself.
Good luck.

And hey, if the guy cringed about the price charge him more.
You’re dealing with platinum and big stones.


#9

Jurgen: Would’nt 14k welding solder (cadnium free) be stronger
than easy? I’ve been doing it this way for 20-odd years on both
gold & platinum retips without a problem. Would appreciate
knowing your reasons as I’m always willing to listen to another
viewpoint.

Thanks in advance;
Steve Klepinger


#10

Tom: There is no way to retip platinum prongs with only platinum
without pulling the stones. You’re correct in stating that the
tempetures are just too high-especially when dealing with this
kind of merchandise! Tell your customer that he can eather pay
you to reset the stones or allow you to use karat gold welding
solder w/platinum wire. The quote he recieved form the other
jeweler was likely done this way.

Hope this helps;
Steve Klepinger


#11

Steve, it is not a matter of strenght as it is a matter of
temperature. The easy solder will hold the platinum tips for a
very long time. The less solder, the better. Welding solder by
definition has a very high melting point. So don’t worry, you
arent building Ford Knox, you are merely re-tipping. Have a
happy Thanksgiving Day

Jurgen J. Maerz
PLATINUM GUILD INTERNATIONAL USA


#12

I have been retipping on diamonds and many heat-tollerant
colored stones using welding solder (Hoover&Strong) for over 20
years and only had one occasion when there was a problem. It was
a 1/4 rbc which had a nasty flaw and it simply cleaved from the
heat. Likely would have done so if I had used low temp. solder.
Your situation would be the same as well. I still maintain that
welding solder is stronger, longer lasting and if given proper
protection, will not burn a stone.

Been there and done that;

Steve Klepinger


#13

Hi, all The issue of retipping has been a pet-peeve of mine for
some time. Generally speaking, when a customer comes to you with
a broken off prong, my experience has shown that the entire box
(head) is usually worn down, or the original setter may have cut
the bearing too deep weakening the prong, or other possible
scenarios. Even though it may seem thatyou are saving the
customer money, isn’t it much better to replace the entire box?
There will be no risk damaging a stone, and you can be sure your
work will not be questioned later on in case if other prongs
break off (lost diamond, etc.). Natually, if the mounting is
very complex, or there are other reasons, you would use your
judgement. With the current cost of diamonds, the small savings
to me just isn’t worth the risk. On a simple mounting, most of
my customers generally agree, and i work in an inner city area,
where incomes are low.

Comments are certainly welcome

regards, Allan Freilich (waterphoto)


#14

I think this is an issue of how the rest of the setting looks.
I almost always replace the whole head on my own work (we don’t
charge the customer for that), but if someone brings me a ring
that looks fine except for the one prong I don’t know that it is
necessary to redo the whole thing. Also most of the rings we see
for repair are usually cast units made as one piece so replacing
the whole head means major rehab work on the piece.


#15

Alan: If, as you state, the base of the head is worn and/or the
seat cut incorrectly then yes, I would certainly aim at replacing
the head. However, if all other things are still in order, it’s
a waste of the customer’s money to replace the whole head
especially if there are heat sensative stones or enamels nearby.
It sounds like you have an excellent reputation in your area but
you may be doing your customers a diservice by insisting on doing
more than necessary.

Best wishes for the holiday;

Steve Klepinger


#16

Dear Steve, Here, here! (or is that “hear,hear”). I’m sorry for
contradicting Jurgen but, I’ve used 20k white solder for my
platinum retips on diamonds for close to 15 years. Burn a
stone, well I’d hate to jinx myself but, not as of yet!

Speaking of contradicting Jurgen, I routinely use a tiny, tiny
dram of white paste solder to help stick a pallion of platinum
to any area that I am welding to. When I size a platinum shank
with welding, I use the technique that Jurgen describes. Using
a foil-thin piece of platinum wedged in the split of the seam,
the welding process is usually pretty consistent. But when the
weld hasn’t completely filled, (hey, it happens to everybody,
right?) I stick another foil-thin piece to the shank (using the
flux to hold it in place)and weld away! I have not noticed any
contamination of the joint or pitting from the flux. I’ve been
doing this for at least 10 years. Now I know that Jurgen says
that the flux will “migrate” into the metal and contaminate it ,
but maybe I don’t know what the “contamination” looks like. The
finished seam is as invisible as any other I’ve seen.

 Just my $.02 again,  Eben

#17

Dear Eben, are you using just the 20Kwhite solder, or do you
solder platinum tips on top using the 20K solder? Many jewelers
re-tip with solder only. I think that is a bad practice and I try
to discourage it. By soldering platinum tips on top of a prong
using 14 k easy white, the chances of burning a stone are very
slim and the prong tip is platinum and is there to stay. That is
the recommended procedure. If you are successful doing it a
different way, than that is great. No need to fix something that
isn’t broken. At very high temperatures, flux does contaminate
platinum and it shows as fine cracks and breakage. In Germany
there are some special fluxes made for lower temp platinum
solders that do not contaminate. I have, however, never seen them
here. To use white past solder to hold platinum solder in place
is something I absolutely disagree with. Imagine using lead
solder to stick gold solder in place.

Have a platinum day
PLATINUM GUILD INTERNATIONAL USA
Jurgen J. Maerz
Manager of Technical Education
JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler


#18

I have been ordering from Fischer on occasion- if you have their
catalog and they have the flux that you are refering to, I’d like
to order some. What is the highest temperature platinum solder
that it safely can be used with? I generally use 1700 but have
the range down to 1300 of Hoover and Strong’s solders.

TIA

Rick Hamilton

Richard D. Hamilton
A goldsmith on Martha’s Vineyard
Fabricated 14k, 18k, 22k, and platinum Jewelry
wax carving, modelmaking, jewelry photography,
and sailing whenever I can…
http://www.rick-hamilton.com


#19

Dear Jurgen, I do not retip using solder only. I use a wire that
is soldered to the top of the prong. Like Peter Rowe, I think
using solder to make retips is a bad, bad practice.

I am intensely interested in these appropriate fluxing agents
for platinum solders. When I said I used Flux to stick the
pallion to the shank, I really mean just the tiniest amount
(like less than the head of a pin) to hold the pallion in place.
As for cracking or pitting, there just isn’t any. I think the
flux must burn completely off before the welding temperatures
are actually reached; thus the flux is sort of an extremely
temporary binder. An older goldsmith I worked with (one who
worked with platinum in the days before the U.S. Government
declared it a strategic metal–Yea he was pretty old!) said that
he had been trained to use a little saliva to adhere the
pallions where I would use flux. I suppose that it is probably
a better policy not to suggest the use of improper fluxes (like
I might have in my posting) than to warn others to avoid a
possible re-occuring problem.

It has been my observation that Goldsmiths in Europe ( heck, for
that matter, Canada and Commonwealth countries too!) have much
better equipment, chemical compounds, and other products than do
we here in the U.S. A short perusal of the Carl Fischer, Gmbh
Catalogue would confirm this to most others as well. Their
Plating, Polishing and forming tools are so well designed and
made that I think the Most of our fellow tradespersons would
more than a litle annoyed at the poor excuses we are offered for
similar equipment. A few Suppliers here in the U.S. try to
bring in the finer stuff, but the majority of them take what the
Grobet/H/R/ Vigor conglomerate ships here without questioning
the quality or propriety of use. With two exceptions ( the GRS
products and Smith’s Little torch), One would be hard pressed to
find any U.S. made or designed goods in any of Europe’s supply
houses. The lack of a suitable Platinum flux would only be
another example of this situation.

Maybe this will spur our better supply houses (Elaine, are you
reading this?) to make a more spirited effort to improve their
offerings. (If any of these guys want more specifics about what
IMHO is lacking, I’d love to be contacted offline!)

With the input of well-trained, high-profiled people like
yourself, Jurgen, maybe I wouldn’t have to use the inappropriate
flux to complete my daily platinum work. Thanks for showing us
where we can improve! (Oops, sorry for another rant again)
Eben