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Shocking Pink


#1

I’m hoping someone can help me with a problem I recently encountered
with Italian Snake Chain (1.6mm). I used the chain as a soldered
component to a necklace. After soldering, I put the pendant and the
soldered-on chain into the pickle pot. I had been working with the
pendant portion for a few hours, and attaching the chain was the last
step. Therefore, I had used the pickle previously that day with
typical good results, nothing unsual. Imagine my shock after
removing the now soldered chain and pendant from the pot to find
everything coated pink (I assume a copper oxide?). Thinking I may
have somehow contaminated the pickle, I threw in a sterling ring
band to see if it too would become discolored. It did not at all!
In fact, nothing I’ve used in the pickle since has become discolored.
I am assuming the chain was the culprit. What would have caused
this? I had to use H2O2/vineagar pickle to remove the copper from the
chain and then polish like crazy to get rid of the grey cast caused
by the H2O2/vineagar. I’ve purchased several of these chains from a
reputable supplier, and I have contacted them, but they are not
jewelers and were clueless. Thanks for your help.

Cathy Flory
Owner/Designer
JEWELWORKS
www.jewel-works.com


#2

Hi there Cathy, The catch on your chain may be to blame and not the
chain itself. Most catches a have a spring that are made out of metal
that can do as you described. This has happened to me more than once.
(you would think I would learn) Also, if the pendant had been
tumbled and a piece of shot was somehow left some where on the
pendant that could do it.

Lou
ASA Settings


#3

G’day; my suggestion is that you might put a magnet to the
offending snake chain. If it is attracted strongly, then your
answer is that the chain is of plated iron., and it is the iron
which is precipitating copper from the pickle on to the chain.

Cheers for now,
JohnB of Mapua, Nelson NZ


#4
 Imagine my shock after removing the now soldered chain and pendant
from the pot to find everything coated pink (I assume a copper
oxide?) 

Not copper oxide, Cathy, metallic copper. It plates out on the
chain and pendant, or anything else, IF and ONLY IF, they chain
and/or pendant is in electrical contact with some metal that is
significantly more reactive than copper. The classic is iron or
steel, but other things can do it. notably, much silver chain is
electroplated with a rhodium coating. the rhodium itself is plated
over an initial copper, then nickel plating. when you solder chain
like this, often the bond between the rhodium and the underlying
nickel layer is damaged, sometimes even bubbling up the rhodium. The
nickel is more reactive than copper, and can form that electrolytic
cell which causes the copper to plate out of the used pickle. You
prevent this from happening if you’re pickling items that may have
this problem, by using new, freshly mixed pickle, which won’t have
any copper in solution to plate out. or make sure the chain you buy
is not rhodium plated.

Thinking I may have somehow contaminated the pickle, I threw in a
sterling ring band to see if it too would become discolored.  It
did not at all! 

of course. This is a common misconception. You don’t contaminate
the pickle. that is NEVER the problem. You can dissolve all copper
oxide, or even iron and other crap you wish in the pickle without it
then plating out with copper like that, so long as the junk is fully
dissolved. You have to get you’re pickle truly totally messed up and
contaminated with a LOT of crap before it will cause problems with
just a silver or gold item, and even then, it’s usually just a
bothersome dingy look. it’s when there is solid metallic iron, or
more reactive metal (such as zinc, tin, nickel, etc) that is also in
physical/electrical contact with your silver item, that the galvanic
cell is formed that generates the electrical voltage needed to plate
out the copper. to give you that thick pink copper layer.

  I've purchased several of these chains from a reputable supplier,
and I have contacted them, but they are not jewelers and were
clueless. 

Just ask them if the chain is rhodium plated or otherwise plated to
prevent tarnishing. If you or they a’re not sure, try oxidizing a
little bit of it with some liver of sulphur. If it has no effect,
the chain is likely plated.

Peter


#5

I have had similar problems when soldering chain that was rodium
plated. It is a real pain. Vince, Eugene, OR


#6

Thank you Peter, for your detailed, informative and, for me,
educational, response to my question. I now understand why this
happened and why a subsequent piece placed in the same pickle did not
plate with copper! I also now understand how to avoid it…do not put
sterling plated with rhodium or nickel for anti-tarnishing purposes
if the surface has been possibly breached by cutting and/or solder
(both of which I did) into a pickle. Hopefully I will be able to find
comparable snake chain elsewhere.

By the way, I did contact the supplier, who told me indeed the
chains were plated for anti-tarnishing. Also, I forgot to mention in
my original post that I did not place the clasp end of the chain into
the pickle pot, but let it hang outside. So I know that an internal
component of the lobster clasp did not cause this.

Again, thank you for the lesson!

Cathy Flory
Owner/Designer
JEWELWORKS
www.jewel-works.com