Precipitation hardening sterling

Hi Charles. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I
am still so amazed at the depth and wealth of knowledge on the Orchid
forum, and am humbled by those of you who so freely share your
knowledge with us. Regarding the precipitation hardening, it seems to
me that I would be wiser to design my pieces such that I can harden
the silver through good ole “work hardening” and not need to rely
upon precipitation hardening. The risk of distorting the piece after
the initial annealing, and the potential firescale are enough to
deter me for now. As a new jeweler, I have indeed completed a couple
of pieces only to discover that a clasp or some other integral
component is just not hard enough to take daily wearing.
Fortunately, I have been able to reheat the solder, remove that
component, and redesign the piece so that it does work. Good lessons
to make me realize I need to more thoroughly think through a design
before starting. But again, thank you (and all of you others) for
pointing us in the right direction.

Alice Glass

Hi Alice,

Another thought about work hardening: You mentioned removing a clasp
because it was too soft? Often I will use nickel in place of
sterling on a portion of a clasp that needs to stay hard or be
hardened enough to operate. For example: you have made a clasp that
has a slide in component that needs to be springy. It is easily work
hardened after soldering just by playing with the spring part and
really “working” it, and will usually hold up quite well.

Also, I have hammer hardened parts of clasps that I fabricated from
sterling or fine silver after it was soldered onto an area. Often
you don’t need to redesign an entire piece around needing an area to
be hardened, you can just harden that one part, or just careful
planning of order of the steps you take in the fabrication process.

Just a thought,


Thank you for your advice. I hadn’t thought about using nickel. I’ll
definitely look into it. Do you solder your nickel component onto the
silver piece? Or do you usually attach it via some sort of cold