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Re-tipping prongs setting


#1

Need some basics on re-tipping prongs. I am totally clueless, so
any bit of info would be greatly appreciated.

LaVerne


#2

LaVerne You should look into using a laser welder for retipping
prongs. My friend Vinnie at Mirabella Design 207-236-6766 has one. He
can retip a ring with any type stone right in the mounting. He does
contract work for other designers. You should check him out.
etienne@etienne.com


#3

First lesson on retipping, practice on a prong with no stone in it.
I use a hoke torch with a med tip and not to hot of a flame. Most of
the time a use 14k hard if I can on 14k prongs. I bead the solder
and pick it up with a solder pick, then heat the prong and solder
pick mostly at the same time so when the solder flows it does not
just fly to the prong it stays between the prong and pick (so to
speak). NEXT LESSON practice practice practice. I am moving my
torch constantly back and forth on so when the solder flows the torch
is moved away, or up to the solder pick and you can actually form a
prong by pulling the solder with your pick. THIRD LESSON practice
practice practice.

Hope this makes sense. Good luck.

Bill Wismar
wismargallery.com


#4

Most of the time a use 14k hard if I can on 14k prongs. I bead the
solder If you are just starting bill advice to pratice is a
given. but instead of just hard solder clip the end of 14 kt gold
wire # 6 shot size add the same amont of hard solder melt
together then go to tip will last a whole lot longer also
Stullers handels a prong tipping kit but pricey clyde


#5

In addition to Bill’s great instructions is a fun exercise for the
torch control you need for re-tipping that a dear friend taught me.
Take some easy flow silver solder and see how tall you can stack
balls of solder without melting them.

Have fun, Marta


#6

Bill I just read your post on retipping and it sounds as if you are
using just solder for the claw tip. If this is so I must disagree, as
there would be no lasting tip surface to take the wear. Instead I
would suggest using the same metal as the claws are made from
together with the correct solder for that metal and cut the metal
into tiny pieces slightly wider than the claw tip and about two or
three times as long which should then be soldered onto the worn claw
tip having first filed a flat surface on the tip end. Ensure the two
surfaces are well flooded with solder and finally reforming the new
tip using a file etc to the same as the others. You now have a claw
tip that resembles the original. Regards Alan UK
The Watch & Jewellery Workshop


#7

Hoy again, I have been told several times that my retipping on the
bench test was part of the reason I got the job. There are always
variables… but generally if there is any of the tip left on the
stone I use 18k hard solder (lessens pit problems) to flow over the
remaining tip. I lay the solder paillon half on the stone & half on
the remaining tip. And heat from the base of the prong brushing the
heat up til the solder flows. I also use a pick to help as necesary.
This gives the solder a nice shape to file up, as well as helps
eliminate piting from flowing the solder more than once. If the tip
is gone from the stone then I will build a new one. Just my 2 cents,
Candy – If you ain’t been to http://www.littlefeat.net Then you ain’t
had enough fun yet!


#8
    Bill I just read your post on retipping and it sounds as if
you are using just solder for the claw tip. If this is so I must
disagree, 

Alan, you are absolutely correct, I would never use just solder for
a whole prong. I should have gone into more detail, but as usual I
rush through my emails. My Definition of retyping is adding more
gold to existing prongs that are just thin. If a prong is missing, I
call that prong replacement and is more expensive. In that case I
use a long piece of square wire and solder it the prong. I find
that by using a longer piece of wire I can control it better. Also
since most people do not have a tacking machine I did not mention
this, but using your tacking machine to put the prong in place and
then tacking the solder to the joint before soldering is also an
excellent alternative.

Regards to all
Bill Wismar


#9
    Need some basics on re-tipping prongs.  I am totally clueless,
so any bit of info would be greatly appreciated. 

When I accept a customers jewellery for repair I assume full
responsibility for it. A stone can be replaced if damaged,
fortunately this is extremely rare. The thing that can’t be replaced
is the sentimental value of the stone to the customer.

In Australia we call prongs settings - claw settings - same thing
just different words!

A setting that requires retipping is usually many years old and is
most likely in a ring. It is also most likely that you as the
repairing jeweller did not make the ring, so we must not assume that
the original jeweller followed correct soldering procedure when
constructing the ring…the original jeweller may have used EASY
solder to assemble the whole ring. So when retipping I only use EASY
solder; it will provide more than enough strength for the new tips
and also I can be quiet confident that the ring will not fall apart.

Not all stones can be heated, diamonds, sapphires and rubies are
referred to as heat proof stones, they can accept soldering
temperatures. Before commencing any work, including cleaning on a
setting that requires retipping I inspect the stone/s for any damage
ie; chips, pits, cracks and advise the customer accordingly. If a
stone is cracked I will not heat it. I prefer to unset and reclaw
then reset.

One important note on diamonds; do not to heat fracture filled
diamonds.

Diamonds are usually the safer stone to heat, sapphires and rubies
can present problems during heating, ie; colour changes. If uncertain
don’t heat.

Important: Raise the soldering temperature gradually to avoid
shocking the stone and after soldering gradual cooling away from
draughts. No sudden temperature changes for the stone.

Assuming that the stone/s are in good condition we can set about
retipping the claws.

I will use a diamond as the stone in this example. The procedure
that I generally follow is:

  1. Thoroughly clean the article in ultrasonic cleaner, all traces
    of dirt must be removed especially on and around stone.

  2. Re-inspect the stone/s.

  3. File old claw tops flat, parallel to crown facets, leaving
    thin layer of metal so that stone remains set.

  4. Prepare metal for new tips, I use flat strip a little thicker
    and wider than required.

  5. Another dip in the ultrasonic cleaner to remove filings.

  6. Attach the ring to a copper wire and dip for one minute at six
    volts in electrolytic cleaning salts (the cleaning process used in
    gold and rhodium plating). This removes finger grease from the stone.
    If any grease is on the stone the boracic (boric) acid may not adhere
    properly.

  7. Rinse in clean water, do not touch the stone with your
    fingers. If you do repeat step 6.

  8. Hold the ring shank in fire tongs and dip into boracic acid.
    (a mixture of boracic acid and methylated spirits) Keep a lid on the
    solution after use.

  9. Remove ring from boracic solution and ignite… It should burn
    with a greenish flame. When the flame extinguishes a white powdery
    surface should now be on the ring. Coverage of the stone is most
    important. If there are areas on the stone not covered another
    application is required; allow the stone to cool and repeat steps 8 &

  10. Commence heating with a low temperature soldering flame and
    bring the boracic acid to a clear glazed state. A complete glazed
    coverage is required to prevent the diamond “burning” oxidising.
    Unprotected diamonds will oxidise in a similar way to metal when
    heated. Burnt diamond facets need to be re-polished…this can be
    costly.

  11. Melt solder onto the top of each claw then place the retip
    metal and control its position with a poker while heating. I prefer
    easy grade solder, less heat to the stone. As the solder melts press
    the retip metal with the poker for firm contact onto the claw top and
    stone. Take care when adding flux during soldering; liquid flux in
    contact with the stone can cause rapid cooling and may crack the
    stone.

  12. Monitor the condition of the boracic acid during soldering.

  13. When all soldering is complete allow the stone/s to cool
    slowly then pickle.

  14. Trim new tips, emery and polish…rhodium plate if white
    gold.

I have retipped both sapphire and ruby settings if the stones are in
good condition and not high priced. High quality stones I will
usually unset and re-claw the setting. It might take a little longer
but with less risk. One important note when retipping sapphs and
rubies - do not coat with boracic acid. Glazed boracic acid can etch
the surface of these stones.

Applying heat to a stone is always risky. Practicing good technique
is important. There are other good techniques used for retipping.

I hope that this helps,

Graham Farr
Sydney, Australia.


#10

I have been casually following the posts on retipping. One very
important thing the original poster needs to know is that only
diamond and ruby and sapphire can be retipped with the stone in.
There are some exceptions but for a beginner, stay with the red white
and blue rule “ruby, diamond and sapphire”. It is possible to burn
all three of these stones. Flame control is the secret and practice
is the answer.

However, I think that all but one response suggests that only solder
be used to create the new tip. Many repair shops and stores will not
accept solder only tips. Some will take a very dim view of it. These
shops and stores will expect that hard solder has been used to hold
on a new piece of metal that is the same kt as the original
tip…see below

File the worn tip flat. Protect with a coat of boric acid. Melt a
small amount of hard solder on the flat tip…you will be surprised
at how easy it will melt. The metal you are heating is small. A
small hot flame is needed. However a do not use too much of an
oxidizing flame. The new metal needs to be the same kt and colour of
the original. For white golds, remember that some of the older white
gold used had a high nickel content and they are a whiter colour than
some of the alloys used today. The new metal can be applied as a
small piece put on top of the solder covered tip and then heat is
applied till it melts and drops into position. Some times it is
easier to hold a strip of metal in a tweezers and position the strip
on the tip as it is heated and when cooled cut of the excess. Another
method is to make a strip of metal ( I like to take round wire and
roll it flat) and melt hard solder on one side of it. Put this back
through the mill to make flat again (the melted solder will not be
flat). Cut off small pieces of this material and put it on the
flattened claw (flux will hold it in place). Heat till the solder
melts and it will make a neat joint. Then file up the new claw tip,
use a six inch three sided file with a fine cut, (#3 or 4), be
gentle, you can chip a girdle. Clean up with a knife edged fine
rubber wheel and polish. The above is a very abbreviated view of a
common but delicate repair. Hope this helps.

Franklin


#11
 One very important thing the original poster needs to know is that
only diamond and ruby and sapphire can be retipped with the stone
in. 

I know I have brought this up before but it obviously needs to be
said again. In today’s treated gemstone market it is no longer safe
to assume that you can heat ruby and sapphire. So many treatments
are being used that it is impossible to know what reaction might
occur when heating these stones. I have had dyed rubies turn black,
ruby doublets (from a very high end New York jewelry store who had
apparently been fooled themselves as only some of the stones were
doublets) split in two and fancy colored sapphires change color. You
also need to thoroughly check diamonds for indications of fracture
fillings before you go ahead and heat those stones as heating will
most assuredly affect the treatment. If it is at all possible we
will always remove stones from their settings before retipping.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
617-491-6000
@spirersomes
www.spirersomes.com


#12
 One important note when retipping sapphs and rubies - do not coat
with boracic acid. Glazed boracic acid can etch the surface of
these stones. 

This is what I call a “Basic Trueisum” I found this out the hard
way.

A point of interest, it is surprising what stones will take the
heat. A couple year back, I did a custom ring for a customer in 14K
and set with moonstones. the center stone was a 8x6 and the two
side stones were 3mm rounds. Well as it turned out, there was a
problem with the center stone requiring a new bezel. As this was a
fabricated ring and the two side stones were also bezel set and very
close to the main, I decided to solder in the new main bezel without
removing the side stones, thinking that it would be easier to
replace the fractured stones than to try to unset the little buggers
and worry about unsoldering the bezels. Well to my surprise, the
moonstones tolerated the full heat of the torch without a problem.
I am sure that if I had attempted to save them, they would have
ended in a pile of chips. I am not sure I would like to repeat this
experiment, but it worked the first time.

Don at Campbell Gemstones


#13
    I know I have brought this up before but it obviously needs to
be said again.  In today's treated gemstone market it is no longer
safe to assume that you can heat ruby and sapphire 

Daniel…you are right. I should have said untreated diamonds ruby
and sapphire. Any treated stone will not take any heat. This of
course makes this repair riskier. If a ruby is fractured enough to
contain dye, it is too fractured to retip in any case. This would
apply to any of the stones that one is considering to retip. Do not
tip fractured stones. The risk of the fracture getting bigger is too
great. Any coating, dye or fracture filling will make the stone
unsuitable to retip. I also tend to avoid tipping large rubies and
sapphires, their value makes it worth while to remove the stone and
make a new claw and reset. Assuming that the stone is not treated,
then only diamond, ruby and sapphire can be tipped, well sort of…

Some one recently posted that they tipped with a moonstone in the
setting! I have never done that, but will tell you that I have
retipped small garnets often. I have also tipped or repaired a
cracked claw with small emeralds! ( small being up to 2.5 mm) I have
tipped an awful lot of stones and the experience has been
interesting.

About tipping diamonds…

Aside from not tipping treated or fractured stones, be careful with
fancy shapes. The corners and points of marquise and pears and
princess cuts and baguettes, will heat up faster than a round stone
and it is much easier to burn these stones. If the solder flows
completely around the tip of a marquise, as an example then there is
also a risk of breaking that tip as the repair cools. The snug fit of
the solder around the point of the marquise does not allow any room
for the contraction of the metal and the diamond and this might cause
a crack or breakage as it cools.

I suppose that retipping is a more skilled repair, but it is one
that is needed. Claws wear out and need repair. The value of the
repair to the customer is great. The alternative is a lost stone.
There have been many days that the revenue generated from tipping has
been much greater than the revenue from all others repairs in the
shop that I work in. I recently did one ring with twenty three tips
needing repair, another customer had two rings with forty tips in
total done. A skill in tipping is a valuable one.

Franklin Cox Goldsmith & Graduate Gemologist GIA


#14

Thanks to Graham Farr for a informative presentation on retipping.
One question I had was: On retipping ruby & sapphire,you mentioned
to NOT coat with boric acid due to it etching surface of
stones…What, if anything, do you coat them with. I’ve always heard
that the coating was to protect the ‘polish’ on the stone. What will
protect the ruby&sapph’s polish? When I started out, I heated a
diamond without coating in boric…results were like sandblasting a
stone! Thanks in advance .

Thomas Blair -( Boozer)
843 686 600120
843 686 6407 fax
Island Gold Works


#15

Don, I’ve had the same experience w/ 3-5 mm tsavorite cabs. I
figured it would be easier just to burn them and then break them out.
Well they came through fine. I was told later by a gem dealer that
any stone w/ chromium would take the heat (all the usual caveats
here… no fractures, etc.)

I can’t remember who mentioned not using boric acid “stone flux” on
corundum. Am I correct in understanding that they leave these
stones unprotected when tipping or heating? I have seen soldering
flux etch corundum, but dilute boric acid/ alcohol hasn’t seemed to
be a problem.

I look forward to hearing the answer. thanks, Andy


#16

Dear Franklin, Your retipping advice was well presented
congratulations on a job well done. My only reservation would be that
retipping is no longer nearly as safe as it was before the various
treatments that have come into play. Even diamonds can be risky
because of filling. If the stone is going to cost a lot to replace
you had better pursue a more conservative course of action. Whenever
possible nowadays I prefer to replace the entire head, and, if the
stone warrants it, using a platinum head. Ron at Mills Gem,
Los Osos, CA


#17

When I accept a customers jewellery for repair I assume full
responsibility for it. The thing that can’t be replaced is the
sentimental value of the stone to the customer. The original jeweller
may have used EASY solder to assemble the whole ring. So when
retipping I only use EASY solder; it will provide more than enough
strength for the new tips. Before commencing any work I inspect the
stone/s for any damage ie; chips, pits, cracks and advise the
customer accordingly. If a stone is cracked I will not heat it. I
prefer to unset and reclaw then reset. One important note on diamonds;
do not to heat fracture filled diamonds. If uncertain don’t heat.
Important: Raise the soldering temperature gradually to avoid
shocking the stone and after soldering gradual cool. Assuming that
the stone/s are in good condition we can set about retipping the
claws.

  1. Thoroughly clean the article in ultrasonic cleaner, all traces
    of dirt must be removed especially on and around stone.

  2. Re-inspect the stone/s.

  3. File old claw tops flat, parallel to crown facets, leaving thin
    layer of metal so that stone remains set.

  4. Prepare metal for new tips, I use flat strip a little thicker
    and wider than required.

  5. Another dip in the ultrasonic cleaner to remove filings.

  6. Remove finger grease from the stone. If any grease is on the
    stone the boracic (boric) acid may not adhere properly. Rinse in
    clean water.

  7. Dip into boric acid and ignite. Coverage of the stone is most
    important.

  8. A complete glazed coverage is required to prevent the diamond
    "burning". Unprotected diamonds will oxidise in a similar way to
    metal when heated.

  9. Melt solder onto the top of each claw then place the retip metal
    and control its position with a poker while heating. I prefer easy
    grade solder, less heat to the stone. As the solder melts press the
    retip metal with the poker for firm contact onto the claw top and
    stone. Take care when adding flux during soldering; liquid flux in
    contact with the stone can cause rapid cooling and may crack the
    stone.

  10. When all soldering is complete allow the stone/s to cool
    slowly then pickle.

  11. Trim new tips, emery and polish.

High quality stones I will unset and re-tip setting. It might take a
little longer but with less risk. One important note when retipping
sapphs and rubies - do not coat with boric acid - it can etch
the surface of these stones.


#18

Good advice. One question though, are you not covering rubies and
sapphires with any thing at all? I’ve heard so many mixed things
here. It’s a consensus that soldering flux will etch, but if boric
acid will as well, then what do you cover small corundums with?

Thanks, Andy


#19

Andy, I don’t use anything at all on sapphires or rubies during
retipping. I’ve been doing it this way for 18 years with no ill
effect on anything I dared to heat anyway. Any boric acid or floride
based flux will etch them during heating to retip temps. The boric
acid is used as a solvent/flux during heat treating helping to seal
the fractures in some rubies (and I’ve seen it happen in sapphires,
also at Don Johnson’s former heat trearting operation in Montana).
Colored goods are treated with out the flux. Again, tip only on stones
without significant inclusions or feathers to avoid internal stress
damage to the stones and avoid over heating on the colored sapphires
which can have their colors modified at temps lower than the
diffusion temps used in most heat treating. Paul Reilly in hot, dry, s=
carily
flamable Colorado Springs.


#20

Hi Thomas, Thank you for your feedback,

    When I started out, I heated a diamond without coating in
boric...results were like sandblasting a stone! 

Yes, this is certainly the appearance of a “burnt” diamond -
oxidised. Thorough cleaning and removal of grease ie: finger prints
from the stone is essential. Heating a clean diamond is risky enough;
heating an unclean diamond and an unprotected diamond is inviting
trouble.

    On retipping ruby & sapphire,you mentioned to NOT coat with
boric acid due to it etching surface of stones....What, if anything,
do you coat them with. I've always heard that the coating was to
protect the 'polish' on the stone. What will protect the
ruby&sapph's polish? 

Once again thorough cleaning is essential. I’ve been told that it is
the boron in the boracic acid that etches corundum - this may not be
accurate, but something certainly does the etching.

A thoroughly cleaned stone (no finger grease) should retain its
polish after heating. Care needs to taken when applying flux to the
tips that no flux gets onto the stone, a very fine brush is good for
this.

The colour of the stone can change colour during soldering. I’ve had
blue sapphires go almost clear, but the colour has come back upon
cooling - heart stopping moments!

Important note when heating these stones - no fast changes in
temperature.

If in doubt - do not heat. Once a stone is hot it could be too late
to have second thoughts! or to put it another way, we might say - I
shouldn’t have done that!

I hope that this helps.
Graham Farr
Sydney, Australia.