As I have only been soldering for about 6 months, I’m not as
qualified as many others here to give advice on this. But I’ve done
quite a few successful 18K gold bezels in my newbie state, so maybe
my advice can help. I’ve always used 18K solder for closing my 18K
bezels, and usually hard solder as I’ll probably have more joints,
and it works quite well. I actually think the gold works better than
the silver, and I guess that’s because the heat seems to localize
better at the spot you want to solder, so you don’t have to get the
whole piece quite as equally hot as you do with silver. So the
solder seems to flow easier, but that also means you could fry your
much-more-expensive gold easier if you aren’t careful " which is
much scarier! But I have never even thought to use 14K wire (or any
non-solder wire/sheet) as solder; I’ve only used solder as solder,
and I truly think it probably works much better. I’m personally not
sure how annealing before you solder would help, but I DO know that
having a flush and tight (plus clean and properly-fluxed) joint to
solder WILL help. So do what you can to close that joint. If the
joint’s not tight, the solder won’t close it for you, and you’ll fry
your bezel trying to get it closed.
First, I really think you need to be working with true solder
instead of wire to solder your joints. Second, you need to get your
joint as tight as you can. Third, it sounds like you might be
hovering too long on your solder joint with too much heat. I use a
small micro-butane torch to close thinner gold bezel wire. I hold
the bezel with a third hand at a point furthest away from the joint,
clear my flux with the torch, set a proper-sized solder chip on the
joint, then I softly and not-too-quickly circle the flame around the
entire bezel - slightly hovering a little longer at the joint as I
circle. Sometimes the solder will flow on the first hover (winning
the soldering lottery!), but usually it takes a few
circle/hover/circle/hover cycles until it flows. You’ll get the feel
of when it’s going to go ahead and flow, and you can hover a little
longer, but don’t let the temptation of hovering too long on the
joint get the best of you because THAT "!#$%^!! THING’S JUST GOTTA
FLOW NOW!!! DARN IT! - because you’ll fry your gold if you do that.
And then you’ll be cussing. Yes, I have done that. But if I keep
slowly circling and hovering, it will flow. And I’ve had it flow,
pickled it, then realized it wasn’t enough solder before. That’s OK.
I’ll just go through the process again and add a little more solder.
But you’ve got to be patient with your flame. And I know that many
here have more and better experience than I do, but even as a
newbie, I’ve been able to make 18K bezels in all sorts of shapes and
sizes (not without some cussing) by following my above technique. So
at the very least, please take heart that if this newbie can do it,
you can too.
BTW… I wonder how many new curse words have been invented
specifically because of the frying of gold during fabrication?