Purity rings--so fine silver is strong enough after all?
Most of the jewellery techniques books say, on the subject of fine
sil and fine gold, that they’re to soft for jewellery use and must be
alloyed to be of any use. I generally question things like that, and
prefer my own experience with my own shapes. I know what they’re
trying to say, that fine sil/gold is inappropriate for the mainstream
methods and styles of jewellery out there.
Fine silver is not appropriate for a lot of applications, but it’s
very appropriate for a lot of others.
I have been wondering about how strong fine silver actually is
and whether alloys weren't actually invented for things like
teapots and forks. You obviously believe fine silver is strong
enough to make a ring, which will be subject to a lot more "abuse"
than a pair of earrings.
Fine silver is NOT a very appropriate casting metal if you want
detail, and while I usually want detail when I cast, I also cast for
the very effect that fine silver gives in a casting. For a
fr’instance, casting fine sil into a simple wooden mold which is
itself not of high detail produces a result you will not get with an
alloy such a stg sil. I call these ‘Tree Trunk Rings’. The resultant
shape requires no more bench intervention! Gotta be a plus!
As for what gauges and so on, firstly I don’t have the faintest idea
what a B & S gauge is, and secondly, the form of the object has a
great bearing on the performance of the material. So I encourage you
to do your own practical study. Take a few granules of fine silver
and turn it into various forms, such as rod, wire or plate, and
experiment with a selection of sizes, you’ll start to get an
understanding of it as a material.
One other thing I like about it is it doesn’t tarnish so much as
stg, and it gets no firescale firestain. Liking it already?
So, is fine silver wire only strong enough when it's hammered
a lot? What about tumbling, which is so popular with PMCers? Is
there a certain B & S gauge below (above?) which it will be too
weak to stand up to either hammering or tumbling--or just too
weak, period? And, if you hadn't added the gold bezel, could you
have fused the band, rather than soldering it?
Fine silver work-hardens (contrary to some techniques books) but I
actually don’t count on that for its strength. I count on the FORM -
a beefier form than you would use for a stronger alloy like stg.
Tumbling will only work-harden the surface.
Fusing fine silver still carries the usually problems for fusing
sterling. It conducts heat away from the join too quickly to make it
an easy job.
I welcome answers from other Orchidians as well. My questions
are not academic: somebody has offered to pay for me to take a
little fusing workshop and I've gotten very excited about
potential designs and am wondering about the limits of this
process--which is a lot easier to do in a kitchen with a butane
torch than soldering is!
I’d say go for it. Probably best of all, fusing could allow you to
make joints that will stay together during any subsequent forging.
B r i a n A d a m
e y e g l a s s e s j e w e l l e r y
Auckland NEW ZEALAND