When I started working on the bench for a trade shop a couple of wars
ago, my principle responsibilities revolved around soldering very fine
chains, charms and repairing all types of bangle bracelets.
The way that I was trained to solder charms, was to hold the charm's
jump ring up and out of the way so that a flame would not be applied
to any part but the jump ring. Many charms included paint, plastic
parts, paper or some other combustible and many charms were, in fact.
pot metal. Holding the charm in my left hand with tweezers, I would
apply flux and solder with my right. Now with the assembly still in
hand, I would adjust my torch with my right hand and fire it up. Next,
a quick quench in the pickle. Often, tweezers are not even necessary,
as the only part that is being heated is the jump ring and it is
possible to jam the bracelet, charm and jump ring together so as to
hold the jump rigs opening on top. Since I was in early training, I
was allowed to use only medium flowing ten karat solder.
We were being trained for speed and were discouraged from using the
"third hand" as it was generally shown to be an unnecessary waste of
time to use it.
Silver charms were treated in essentially the same manner. The only
difference was the flame required to accomplish the solder without
heating up the rest of the jewelry. We used Hoke torches and I became
accustomed to using an oxidizing flame for this purpose. The trick is
to apply the heat from the underside of the joint while the pallion of
solder sits on top. We used a medium flowing solder for this
Using this method, there is really no excuse for burning up a
bracelet or charm. That's not to say it doesn't happen. Soldering
thousands of charms in a year is going to create a few headaches.I
remember a gold disk type eraser charm that I burned the brush
bristles on. Paint did a disappearing act from time to time. Pot metal
charms were hard soldered and only rarely was there a rebuild
necessary. There was an early mistake when I was soldering a gold
charm and burned up a hollow link the became a problematic repair.
My mentor used to say "There was never a jeweler that didn't get in
trouble, but it takes a good jeweler to get out of it".
Good luck and try to have fun.
JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler