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Removing mercury

what does a person do to remove mercury from a opal & tanzanite ring ?

    what does a person do to remove mercury from a opal & tanzanite
ring ? 

This may be a difficult job. Remove all of the stones.Under good
ventilation, heat the mounting to a red heat. The mercury should
evaporate. Do not breath the fumes. Refinish the mounting and reset the stones

    what does a person do to remove mercury from a opal & tanzanite
ring ? 

G’day; the only way to remove mercury from a ring is to heat it
strongly (but black hot) in a well ventilated place; you will need to
unset those particular stones first. Cheers,

John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ

Bad-bad-bad-You must remove the stones first. That’s not what you
want to hear, but remember to charge for it. Then carefully heat the
entire ring to the point right before you expect it to start melting
and keep it there for a few seconds. Remember to wear a good
breathing mask and/or extremely good ventilation. From what I’ve been
told the mercury actually vaporizes. It has
worked for me many times. sorry there is no easy way that I know

Hi Andy,

The only way I can think of is to take the stones out and heat the
ring to a temperature somewhat below that at which the solder melts.
This will vapourize the mercury; in essence, it will be distilled off.

However as others have pointed out in recent postings, mercury vapour
is VERY poisonous. Do it outdoors, in a temperature controlled kiln,
when there’s a good breeze blowing and no kids in the neighbourhood.

Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada

Andy, you will have to remove the stones from the ring, and then heat
the ring to the point that the mercury vaporizes. This step will
need to be done with very good ventilation as the fumes are quite
toxic. Also, you want to carry the vapor away from the gold, else
when it cools, it will condense back onto the ring, or any other gold
that it comes in contact with. Solder joints will be a problem also
as they will harden and might crack. I hope it wasn’t an inlay ring,
as you may loose the opal when removing it. If it is an inlay, soak
it in a jar of Attack to break down the epoxy and carefully remove
the opal. Hopefully, the opal will be thick enough to withstand the
pressure of the expanding epoxy and to allow for a final finish when
it is reset. When resetting the opal, you will need to blacken the
bottom of the opal before setting it. Sometimes you can use a black
permanent marker, or black India ink. Set the opal with clear epoxy.

Good luck and keep in mind the ventilation issue.

Hi John,

I was told by my apprentice master that heating a mercury spoiled ring
would cause the mercury to burn into the gold, forming a partial and
unsightly amalgam. He wasn’t as knowledgable as you (hey, we’re just
simple jewellers) about chemical reactions and suchlike so I believe
what you say (I just wish I’d known this forty years ago), but I’d
like to know a little more about the chemical action of such heating.
Thanks in anticipation,

Rex from Oz

Rex & Gabrielle Merten

Dear Andy, first of all, I’d unset the two gems. Most of the mercury
should be able to be polished off the metal with a small tripoli
brush. Of course this won’t remove the mercury in any corners or parts
of the ring that the brush can’t reach. For these parts, you’ll have
to go in by hand with a small fine scraper of some sort. I’ve used a
medium sized needle and ground the point down to a small triangular
scraper. It’s time-consuming work. If any other Orchid member knows a
better and reliably quicker way of doing it, I’ll be as eager as you
to know about it. The last one I cleaned was a c.1940s filigree ring
and it took ages. Kind regards

Rex from Oz


Meaning get their cash. Dealing with pushy customers becomes a lot
easier after having 2 teenage kids, LOL. 

That is why I took up metalsmithing/jewelry making. An anvil, a
hammer and a blow toch are better than prozac for teenagers!