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Soldering gold


#1

Hello fellow Orchid folks:

I have several questions that hopefully a bunch of people can give me
ideas about. I am mostly soldering silver, ocassionally with gold
ornaments, or 22 kt gold bezels, soldered to the silver.( I am setting
cloisonne and need very soft bezel.) So far I have been using silver
solder because the backings are silver. I would like to make solid
gold pieces.what gauge gold should I use for the backs? can I use 28
gauge? The enamels are heavy and solid already, and most people buying
cloisonne know their delicate nature already. Can I use 22 kt bezel
with 18 kt back plate? What solder do I use?Can I use 18 kt med
solder? Do I have to use all 22 kt gold (bezel and back?) How do I
stamp or hallmark a piece that is sterling, 14 kt and 22kt? So far I
have had luck with my prestolite torch, but people say you can’t use
it with gold, is this true? Does anyone just use their prestolite with
a smaller head?. I won’t be setting diamonds or small work like that.
Most of my enamels are at least an inch to 2 inches in diameter.Any
good ideas appreciated so much! Thanks sue in sunny shingle springs (
near placerville, CA) PS gold is a bit intimidating I dont want to
make too many costly mistakes!


#2

Howdy,

After soldering silver for years I’m ready to move on to soldering
gold and have a couple questions.

Firstly, when soldering gold do I need to match the karat gold metal
with the karat gold solder? I’m looking online at Rio Grande’s site
and noticed they offer 18k gold bezel but only 14k gold solder.

Secondly, If I want to solder 18k gold bezel to sterling, would I
use gold solder or silver solder?

Thanks as always!


#3

Hi Chris,

Only if you want to legitimately stamp that piece 18ct.

In Australia we have a voluntary standard, that I follow
religiously, and a certain organisation would love to see as a
mandatory standard.

Within the Australian standard of precious metal fineness, you can
only stamp an 18ct yellow gold ring 18ct if it is entirely made out
of 18ct, including the solder. There ae exceptions to the rule, but
this is generally the case.

The tricky part come in when you use white gold. In Australia our
yellow gold solders match the karat of the gold. This is not the
case for white gold solders (I’d be interested to see if this is the
case in other countries).

White gold solder comes in hard, medium and easy. The hard is 18ct,
the medium is 14ct, and the easy is 9ct. There is not 18ct medium, or
easy solder. There is no 14ct hard or easy, and there is no 9ct hard
or medium solder.

An excerpt from the standard :-

"Solders used in the manufacture of gold alloy articles shall not
contain less than the article itself except as follows :

(a) In the manufacture of white gold articles containing at least 750
parts per 1000 by mass of gold, the solder used shall not contain
less then 585 parts per 1000 by mass of gold."

What this means is that you cannot use easy solder to on an 18ct
ring and stamp it 18ct. Any repair work done on an 18ct ring, with
white gold easy solder, will render it 9ct, as you stamp the piece by
the lowest karat gold. Any repair work, or construction work must not
use white easy solder if you are using 18ct or 14ct.

This is the Australian voluntary standard, I think the American, and
British standards are very different.

Kindest regards Charles A.


#4

Hi Chris

Congrats on being ready to start working in gold. If you are
soldering gold to silver, use silver solder. When you are soldering
gold to gold, use gold solder. Gold solder is expensive enough, that
you don’t want to waste a lot of gold solder when soldering gold to
silver. If you work with 14kt, then use 14kt solder, or gold solder
that is madefor 14kt. If you work in 18kt, then use 18kt gold
solder. Best color match for each karat. I have to keep 10kt, 14kt
white and yellow solder, 18kt yellow and white solder, so it can add
up quickly. If you are working in 22kt, then you need to find a
solder that is as close to 22kt - I think there is a 20kt yellow
gold solder. Otherwise, in a pinch, I use 18kt hard solder for 22kt.
Try to use plumb gold solder, so that it is exactly 14kt, or 18kt.
Repair gold solder can be a mixture - anywhere from 7kt to 16kt.
Read the melting point of each gold solder and the metal composition
of where you order it.

As for gold/silver suppliers, you can try Hauser and Miller, Hoover
and Strong, Quality Gold, Stuller (strictly wholesale only - got to
prove yourself) and Hagstoz & Sons. You can google each company.
Hoover and Srong and Stuller have an extensive gold solder list.

Hope that helps. Try 18kt/sterling bi-metal if you get a chance and
Hauser and Miller supplies it.

Good luck and have fun with gold!

Joy


#5
What this means is that you cannot use easy solder to on an 18ct
ring and stamp it 18ct. Any repair work done on an 18ct ring, with
white gold easy solder, will render it 9ct, as you stamp the piece
by the lowest karat gold. Any repair work, or construction work
must not use white easy solder if you are using 18ct or 14ct. 

I come from environment of making my own solders. It is much simpler
than it sounds. Take a bit of alloy that you working with, add a
smidgeon of silver, melt it on charcoal, roll it thin, and you got
perfect solder for the alloy.

If some of you shocked at this practice, consider the following:

10 grams, 18k ring soldered with such solder. Let’s assume that
solder is only 12k. (in practice such solders come out to about
16.5k) A pallion of 12k solder 1mm x 1mm x 0.1mm consist of 0.00079
grams of gold and 0.00079 grams of silver. So after soldering our
ring would have composition of 7.5 + 0.00079 grams of gold and 2.5 +
0.00079 grams of silver.

Calculating purity in karats = 7.500079 / 10.00079 * 24 = 17.999 k.

I can guarantee that no matter how strict the law in your country
is, you will be in full compliance with it.

The key to maintaining purity of gold alloys in pieces requiring a
lot of soldering is not the solder, but how well you fit your joints.
Soldering is not about lighting a torch and filling gaps with solder.
Anybody can learn it in an hour. The skill of soldering is in
preparation and fitting of joints. Do it well and you can use any
solder you want.

Leonid Surpin
Studioarete.com


#6
White gold solder comes in hard, medium and easy. The hard is
18ct, the medium is 14ct, and the easy is 9ct. 

No, Charles, I have no doubt you can find it in Oz. There is solder
called “plumb”, which is made to the carat it’s intended to be used
on - hard, medium and easy, all 14kt or 18kt white or yellow as the
case may be. We use an xtra easy twice a yearthat’s not plumb, for
those stray repairs. Otherwise we only use plumb solders.


#7

Hello Chris,

I personally use the same plumb solder(s) as karat for colour
matching and assay purposes. Many people go a karat lower
purportedly for added “strength” (because the alloys have more
elements in them that aren’t as soft as 18 kt, regardless of colour
and melt/flow points or 22 kt. gold particularly in med. and easy
solders- actually for 22 karat yellow the solder is a 21 karat
fineness, and 22 karat white, a 20 kt. hard solder).

That isn’t to say it’s not acceptable to use solders that A) aren’t
plumb, or B) aren’t a karat lower. Using a lower karat may help some
people prevent disasters from a melt/flow point (the factor that
affects designating a solder as hard, medium, or easy) too close to
that of the metal used in the work piece, and supporting the reason
for using progressively “easier” grades of solder in multi-solder
operations where one begins with IT or Hard solder in the first
application of the process of connecting one part to another without
the subsequent solder operation undoing the previous join.

there are many, many that offer a far wider range of solder products
in various forms, grades and colours, so don’t get swayed by what
just one of the “big guys” in jewellery supply distribution
offers. many vendors with their solder sold through various catalogue
and e-merchants,There are also companies that manufacture solder in
more grades, particularly in the melt/flow points in their "Medium"
range. One in particular I can think of offers at least 3 "medium"
range solders although they are mainly ready to order in paste form
(otherwise its a special order item).

As far as using gold and silver metals and solder selection: if you
have a good join prepared you can place the paillions of solder
inside the bezel and use silver solder. The same is true for pastes
as well- once you have built a coat of firescale preventative (using
Cupronil - my personal favourite firescale preventative/flux
preparation on the market, or some equivalent to Pripp’s flux
(denatured alcohol saturated with boric acid and borax) to which
warmed metal is dipped into or that is sprayed onto warmed metal and
placed on a tripod so heating from underneath can take place
particularly if you place the paste on the bottom inside edge of the
bezel. If you are just getting back into soldering and have it in
mind to close the bezel and solder it to the base in one operation
this may be a good argument for going a karat lower in the solder you
choose. If you have closed the bezel with hard plumb solder, using a
medium plumb solder may be a good choice here if you are using the
same karat gold solder.

Additionally, there are Yellow Silver Solders- giving a good/decent
colour match with most gold alloys on the market, particularly low
karat yellow golds (16 kt, 14 kt and less and/or 14/20 or 12/20
filled materials).They are silver however,(.925-.900 and for 80/20
’reticulation’ silver alloys) and internationally speaking can’t be
stamped as anything more than.925 when it is necessary to register a
piece or a line with an assay office. Many vendors sell yellow
silver solders ordinarily they are an “easy” if not extra easy grade.
Those manufacturers that sell yellow solders suitable for bi-metal
work can be used for many purposes, particularly repair and optical
uses. When they contain actual fine gold as opposed to a base metal
alloy to give the appearance of yellow gold have a gold content in
the 6-8 karat range.

Unless you do a lot of repair work though or work in filled "gold"
material or low karat golds in fabrication, the ordinary yellow
silver solders are a good deal cheaper than buying a solder listed
under gold solders in a catalogue or on-line. First you get an oz.
troy of the yellow silver solder compared to a pennyweight of a low
karat gold solder for at least 2/3 less cost and most often the
yellow silver solder, if not over applied will match the colour of
the yellow gold, regardless of karat ( unless a very high karat) more
than adequately. Most often yellow silver solder is available in
strip or sheet form - I don’t remember ever seeing a vendor selling a
paste or wire form of the alloy- so you will have to cut it into
paillions. Its a good practice to roll it out first,(or forge it
thinner on a polished anvil)so you get as thin a paillion as
possible so it doesn’t run over the edges of the bezel, or fill in
the space inside the bezel where your stone was to fit tightly in
it’s setting. rer


#8

Hi Chris, Soldering gold is a bit different from sterling but with a
bit of practice you will find it is a real joy to work with. It does
notconduct heat as well as silver so you don’t need to heat the
entire piece, just the area of the solder joint. 18k is the best
choice for soldering toa larger silver piece as 14k will melt into
your silver and make an unusable mess. 18k yellow also provides a
nicer color contrast than 14k (especially against the bright white of
Argentium sterling) and it is easier for setting as well, I’ve found
14k to be quite springy even when annealed, makingclosing the bezels
difficult. I usually use gold solder when attaching a gold bezel to a
silver piece, just try to keep the solder from flowing whereit isn’t
wanted. I have 18k yellow solder from Rio. It’s been a long time
since i bought it from them but I seriously doubt it’s been
discontinued, maybe ask them on the phone if you don’t see it
on the website. Hope this helps, Douglas


#9

Thanks everyone for your feedback. I’m excited to work in gold. I’ve
got a bunch of books and nothing really touches on working in gold. I
intend on always matching the same karat gold with the same karat
solder. Just thought it was strange that a giant company like rio
only offers 18k solder in sheet. It seems that there is a much higher
demand for 14k solder. After wrestling with a 14k gold bezel I think
I’ll try 18k.

Chris Young


#10
White gold solder comes in hard, medium and easy. The hard is 18ct,
the medium is 14ct, and the easy is 9ct. 
No, Charles, I have no doubt you can find it in Oz. There is
solder called "plumb", which is made to the carat it's intended to
be used on - hard, medium and easy, all 14kt or 18kt white or
yellow as the case may be. We use an xtra easy twice a yearthat's
not plumb, for those stray repairs. Otherwise we only use plumb
solders. 

Currently as it stands the major suppliers in Australia (the ones
that I know about anyway), sell a hard, medium and easy. One of the
suppliers states that they sell an 18ct hard medium and easy, but if
you investigate further you find that the gold content is not 18ct
for the medium or easy.

In all seriousness if you know of a supplier that manufactures karat
white gold solders in hard, medium and easy, in Australia, let me
know and I’ll get it in stock for the customers.

Kindest regards Charles A.


#11
Calculating purity in karats = 7.500079 / 10.00079 * 24 = 17.999 k.

This is a problem according to the standard. You would not be able
to stamp an 18ct yellow gold ring if you used 17.999ct solder.

Fortunately yellow gold solders are spot on. You buy 18ct hard,
medium and easy, you get 18ct hard, medium and easy The problem is
white gold solders is there is a little room to wiggle in the
standards, but if you want to be true to them, you have to follow the
rules.

I find it a difficult concept to use a lesser karat solder than the
gold being soldered. I suppose that if I get cranky enough about it I
could always buy a PUK 4.

Regards Charles A.


#12

I normally don’t have problems soldering bezel wire to a flat
surface. It seems in general to be one of the easier soldering
tasks. I have not soldered a lot of gold, otherwise I might know the
answer to this que18k sheet. I didn’t have any 18k solder, but had
heard that you can just use a lower karat gold, so I used 14k. I
checked the fit, scrupulously cleaned the parts using soap/ammonia
and toothbrush. I cleanedthe 14k wire I used for solder and cut
small bits. I used Handy Flux. I do have some Batterns I have used
for gold before but decided to try the Handy Flux, since the other
thinner fluxes seem to bead up and not cover the metal. I cut around
8 small bits of 14k wire and placed them around the inner side of
the bezel as usual. I used plenty of heat (just not too much to melt
it - done that before!) I got a nice glassflux flow and everything
looked nice, but the solder bits wouldn’t melt. Some of them moved a
little bit away from the bezel after heating a second time. In the
end, the solder bits just turned black and sat there. The only thing
I can think of is that the solder bits were not flat like pailons.
Perhaps the flux doesn’t cover it well if it’s not flat? Should I
justbuy some 18K solder?


#13

Buy the solder. I have made solder in the past and I don’t find the
time spent equal to the simplicity and dependability of opening and
envelope from Rio Grande or Hoover and Strong. It is good to have
the know how to get you by in a pinch but why bother as a routine
step in your manufacturing process. It is fun to be able to do these
little tasks that “The Smiths of Old” used to do out of necessity.
But why do it when it isn’t necessary unless you advertise your work
as entirely handmade.

Have fun, don’t burn yourself,
Don Meixner


#14

I solder 24k to 14k all the timem using either 14 or 18k solder.
Gold solder is a bit different than silver. It seems to like the heat
more focused. I first heat up the whole piece and then go back around
the inside, with solder stick (xacto knife) in hand and focus the
heat just in that spot til it starts to flow and then use the heat
and the knife to draw the solder along the seam, carefully. not to
melt! This probably isn’t kosher, but that’s what I taught myself to
do.

Marianne Hunter
hunter-studios.com


#15

There’s not much difference in the melting points of 14K and 18K
solders - grade for grade, 14K is slightly lower.

I’ve never used Handy Flux, but its description indicates that it
should work OK, so, if you really were using 14K solder, then I would
suspect your technique. If the solder turned black before it melted
then I would think that you just didn’t get the joint itself hot
enough to melt the solder. You must heat the joint - not the solder.
When the joint is hot enough to melt the solder it will flow into the
joint. I suspect that, because the solder didn’t run into the joint,
you continued to heat it until you burnt the flux and turned it
black. At that point you’ve lost. Clean the joint again, apply flux
and solder (pailons or bits- doesn’t matter what) then heat the JOINT
until the solder melts. Play the flame around the solder - not
directly at it. If your flame has enough heat, the joint will melt
the solder and the job is done.


#16

I used Handy Flux. I do have some Batterns I have used for gold
before but decided to try the Handy Flux

I think that’s your problem. Handy Flux is made for lower-heat
applications like silver. Your flux becomes ineffective in the high
temperature needed to melt the gold solder, so the solder just
oxidizes and doesn’t flow. Your Batterns flux is meant to hold up to
the higher heat, so use it for gold. I know it seems like it doesn’t
cover as well because of the beading, but it will work when the
handy flux won’t.


#17

My first attempt was not 14k solder, but 14k gold. I guess if the
melting temp of 14k gold is not much lower than 18k that might
account for thetroubles. I went back and tried again with 14k medium
solder and it worked. Even then I really had to heat it a lot. i’m
surprised it didn’t slump like has happened once or twice before. I
hope the 14k solder will match the 18k gold color-wise.


#18

Eleanor,

In my experience, that’s simply not true. Not sure where you got
your I only use paste flux–Dandix or Superior-- for
soldering everything. Gold, sterling, bronze and mild steel.

The temps of gold soldering are not that different than silver
soldering and, in any case, paste fluxes will hold up longer to
continuous heat than liquid fluxes such as Battern’s. They are also
more aggressive at scavenging oxides.

I avoid Handy Flux (in favor of Dandix or Superior) because of the
free flouride warning on the label. Not sure my choices are more
health conscious in the end, but it’s the choice that I’ve made.

Andy


#19

I have used Handi Flux for over 40 years now. never had a problem
with any solder even 22k that I had to alloy for a special job.

Panama Bay Jewelers


#20
Your flux becomes ineffective in the high temperature needed to
melt the gold solder, so the solder just oxidizes and doesn't flow. 

Interesting. I use paste flux for all of my soldering. Except for
platinum and palladium. I find it holds up better than Batterns flux.
That said, I don’t think this is a flux issue.

I find that most soldering fails are due to torch technique or a
dirty seam.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com