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Raising the Fine Silver Failure


Today I tried to raise the fine silver on some earrings and pendants
in this way: I marked each piece with a “sharpie” and heated with a
large brushy flame until the “sharpie” marks disappeared. Then I
quenched the pieces in warm pickle while they were still hot.

There are two ways that I failed:

  1. The pieces are now a dull and very ugly grey- which I assume is
    firescale?? Am I right? What is it and how do I get rid of it?

  2. The previous solder joints have weakened and some of the findings
    (earring posts/ jump rings for the pendants) have fallen off.

I have raised the fine silver in this manner before and have not had
any problems. What went wrong?? Was it just my working in a sour mood?


hi there,

do not quench hot, it is bad for you (the mist is a carcinogen) heat
gently, taking the flame off now and then(if the flame is too gassy
it protects the metal from oxygen thus nullifying your attempt to
oxidize the surface). when you see the metal discolor slightly
(brownish) then this is good enough, let it cool slightly and then
quench in water, then pickle it in hot pickle for 2-5 minutes. If
you are having parts fall off you were too hot. Repeat the gentle
heating and pickling until the metal stays white, then you are done
(normally about five times)


Ariella, Best not to quench in pickle when hot. Quench in H2O then
put in hot pickle.

This metal sounds like something other than silver. Even if easy
solder was used, heating to annealing temp. should not weaken solder
joints. Did you fabricate, or someone else who said it was sterling.
That has happened to me when someone told me the piece was silver. It
immediately slumped with hardly any heat. Ooops. Not silver!

Usually pickled silver when removed from pickle comes out almost
white, with a slight gray tint. Use baking soda, water with soft
toothbrush to remove slightly and give a slight sheen. Or just
between your finger tips. Heating until the brown disappears sounds
correct to bring up fine silver.

Try on scrap first, but it should work if sterling.

Kay Taylor

One other possibility to consider, is over-pickling (either too long
in the pickle, or too strong a solution). Over-pickling can turn the
sterling gray, as well as weaken solder joints. Cindy

Cynthia Eid