I don't work in gold often, silver is so much more forgiving (and
cheaper!). I'm trying to simply solder an 18K gold bezel strip
closed. I used bits of 14K gold wire for solder. The first time I
got the gold to flow, but stupidly tried to heat it a bit more to
get a better flow. Result = hole in bezel. Second time I was even
more careful to get the bezel edges flat and perfectly aligned. I
annealed the bezel prior to shaping it around the stone. When I was
finished shaping the bezel around thestone, it had work hardened a
bit and was a bit springy. I had it set up so that the bezel ends
were pressing against each other lightly, enough to keep the gap
closed. This is what i always do with silver. Anyway, I turned the
torch (Propane and Oxy, small tip) down to what I thought was quite
low, so as not to go to fast. Not 3 seconds after I hit it with the
torch, the bezel ends smushed (technical term) into each other.
Resultanother piece of scrap gold.
I know that gold does not transfer heat like the silver I am used to
soldering. i'm guessing t hat even with thelower torch flame, the
gold is heating up more locally, and unable to carry even the
smaller heat load away. Also, perhaps I should re-anneal before
soldering (?) If I do, and the bezel strip is no longer springy, how
do I keep the ends of the bezel strip firmly up against each other?.
or is using 18K solder better in some way than just using 14K gold?
Any helps appreciated.
Always use solders made for your application. They are designed to
flow when liquid much better than the alloys of sheet or wire stock.
Also the colors will match your piece better. 18k solders will much
better match the color of 18k than a bit of 14k will.
As well, you've got the same sort of range of melting points as with
A couple of ways to keep the ends of the loop together. You can bind
with a little bit of iron binding wire, or you can stick pins made
of binding wire into a charcoal block so that they hold the bezel in
position for soldering. The second method is less likely to leave
marks in the gold or interfere with the solder flow.
Once you get used to soldering gold you'll find multiple joints are
much easier than with silver because of gold's lower heat
conductance. Platinum's better still.
If you're using 14K gold bits to put your 18K bezel together,
technically, you are fusing, rather than soldering. That is WAY hard
to do on a thin bezel strip without melting it. You're much better
off using the 18K hard solder (takes more heat to melt, but a strong
You also want to consider the color match of the solder you're using.
I always use the exact same karat solder as the metal I am soldering.
Better color match, and it's the "legal" way to do it. Stay with 18K
metal and 18K solder.
You might also want to go with a thicker bezel. What is the thickness
you are soldering together?
Todd- The first mistake you made was to use 14 kt solder on 18 kt.
It has a much lower melting point and will alloy with the higher
karat metal when over heated. Just like lead solder on silver.
Silver is much harder to solder than gold. In gold you have larger
margin of error on fitting things together and you can pin point
solder with out having to heat the whole darn piece up.
Your seam had too much pressure on it. That's why it collapsed. I've
seen when sizing rings. too. Always anneal the the bezel or ring if
it's under pressure opposite of where your seam is. The piece will
relax, actually separate and then move back together again. Then
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
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?
interesting take on silver vs. gold in terms of malleability!! - I
find high karat golds FAR more forgiving than silvers, even .999
silver which I use more than sterling. No matter how you heat it, if
you try to add a higher melting point metal to a lower one you will
always get a hole unless you add a thermal protectant or even ochre -
if applied to both sides of the piece where you don't want heat to
affect the larger component...
One thing you have to do is make certain the join is absolutely
tight: there shouldn't be any question of a gap- solder doesn't fill
gaps. But if using a bit of gold wire or other small accent on a
predominantly silver piece use either silver solder or gold coloured
silver solder, you won't get a melt down and if you feel there is a
reason to use gold solder, add some thermal paste around the area you
don't want affected. If it flows its flowing- so back off the torch
at that point and if you have 14 kt wire make it as thin as possible
if using it for a hard solder join. In the specific situation you
talked about, soldering an 18 kt bezel strip closed- If it was a 30
g. (standard) pre-fabricated vender item, it's thin metal you are
trying to join to start with,- so roll your wire or otherwise reduce
it to a quite thin paillion for better results. Again, try some
yellow silver solder you'll probably find it matches your gold color
at least as well as the 14kt color on an 18 kt piece of work. rer
I don't work in gold often, silver is so much more forgiving if you
can work silver then 18kt is a dream.
I was with my apprentice, the great grandson of the Hardy Brothers
jewellery family and we were showing pieces at an exhibition. When
some guy started telling us how great he was because he worked in
Benjamino, my apprentice, put him straight. "So you only work the
easy stuff, big deal!" That really annoyed the guy, especially when we
laughed at him.
So Todd, make your bezel strip, true the ends with a file.
Butt the ends together, flatten with parallel pliers, hold to a
light and you will see it is not light tight, you will see light
through the join.
Saw through the join. Butt up again, now it should be light tight.
Flux and use 18kt solder, should be no problem.
So, several posts are suggesting not using 14K gold as solder, for
closing the bezel (thanks). I had wondered if this might be the
problem. Funny thing is, I used 14K gold instead of 18K "solder",
based on what it says in several of my jewelry books, from people
who I would have thought new better. Oh well, I should chuck those
I said, "I'm personally not sure how annealing before you solder
Jo Haemer said, "Always anneal the the bezel or ring if it's under
pressure opposite of where your seam is. The piece will relax,
actually separate and then move back together again. Then solder."t
Well, that explains why! It'll help you get that better fit for the
joint. I've learned something new. Would fluxing your entire bezel
and heating it enough to clear the flux before you solder be enough
to anneal it the proper amount for the relaxing/separating/moving
back together to occur?
This was written relative to a gold bezel, but I wonder if the same
thing would work for silver? Interesting. Never thought about that,
but then I generally have no problems when soldering any seam - well
seldom have problems.
It's a trick that I use regardless of the metal. I use it for bezels
and shanks. Anything that is hardened and has spring from forming.
It is easy to see if you have annealed enough. You can see it relax.