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Soldering with turq stones?


#1

i have a cross necklace with turq stones that has cracked in half,
do i have to remove the stones to repair?? they are bezel set, how do
i go about removing the stones without ruining the bezel they are set
in?? any help will be greatly appreciated! thanks, bari


#2

My experience is that you do need to remove the stones before
soldering. Often the stones will have a backing of some kind, which
may be flammable, plus, the odds are that sawdust is underneath the
stones. To remove the stone, use an exacto blade to GENTLY pry the
bezel away from the stone until the stone can be removed. Be
especially careful around the bezel seam. This is a difficult
operation to do without damaging a stone as soft as turquoise,
especially if the stones are expertly set. If it’s a production-type
piece, the bezels may have small gaps to make it easier to insert the
blade. Usually, the top edge of the bezel will get a bit chewed up
from all the prying. If so, maybe you can sand the top edge of the
bezel lower and then lower the stone by eliminating the sawdust,
and/or sanding the bottom of the stone. Either way, you’ve got a
true pain there with that job (at least an hour’s work) which no one
will want to pay for.

Bill


#3

Bari, Yes you will have to remove the stones from your cross prior
to soldering. Heat will ruin turquoise. As for removing the bezel set
stones, insert the fine tip of a thin bladed knife or other similar
tool between the stone and the bezel and gently pry the bezel away.
Work all the way around the stone until it is loose enough to be
picked out. Good luck. Jerry in Kodiak


#4

Dear Jwlrl, a couple of ways to do this. One is to remove the stones
with a narrow steel tool like a small flat screw driver which is
worked between the stone and bezel around enough to drop the stone
out. Then hard silver solders can be used for the repair. Another way
is to brace the back with another piece of sterling adhered with Tix
solder and soldering fast enough not to burn the stone. The price of
the repair you quoted and your skills are the determining factor as
to which you choose Another way would be to bezel or prong set the
entire piece onto a backed cross the same size as the original.
Sam Patania, Tucson


#5

Bari; I can’t tell for sure from your query, but I assume this is
your first project like this. Realize that, like many repair jobs,
you will have to improvise fixtures and techniques to fit the
problem. This is one of those projects that takes far more time and
skill and experience than it looks like . Or that your customer
probably expects to pay for! So keep good track of ALL your time
spent on this, buy David Gellers book on pricing, and learn from
this one. There are three critical points that we have to deal with.

  1. Turquoise is soft and absorbent and most of what we encounter is
    very soft or has been treated by being filled with one or another
    type of plastic, all of which are easily damaged by heat.

  2. Virtually all turquoise cut in the last 30-40 years is backed
    with epoxy. Many of the stones are padded with sawdust or paper
    behind them in the settings.

  3. Silver conducts heat very well and most silver settings are
    massive. Therefore they conduct a lot of heat, for a long ways,
    very quickly. Silver also tarnishes and fire scales at soldering
    heats. Keeping these three things in mind, the first approach is to
    look carefully at the damaged piece and see if there isn’t some way
    of creatively repairing the break without soldering. If there just
    isn’t any way, we need to prepare ourselves and the customer for
    more work and risk than we knew about when we took the job. Only
    then should we actually start.

If we are dead set on soldering, we have to find a way to bring the
place to be repaired to temp without heating the stones much hotter
that you can hold. The bottom line is that you will probably have
to remove stones. At the very least those that are closer than an
inch or so on either side of the break. Then you can submerge the
rest of the piece in water or a heat sink goo while you solder it. To
remove the stones, take a thin bench knife or something of that
shape and CAREFULLY sweep the edge of the point between the bezel
and the stone and push, don’t pry, the bezel open and get the stone
out. Might make up some bezel settings, set junk stones, and try
this for practice a few times. Cheaper in the long run. Will also
give you a chance to try soldering a joint while you keep the silver
that is an inch away at room temperature. If you haven’t tried it
you will be surprised at how difficult it is and might decide to
pull ALL the stones. After you have removed enough stones and put
together some setup ( I use sand or silicone carbide grit immersed
in water in an old enameled cup with a third hand above it. That
was what I had around when I first needed it 30 years ago and it has
served me well.) to hold the joint together and contain the heat,
you need to look at why the break happened in the first place. If
there is a structural problem in the cross try to solve it with
reinforcement or whatever. Once you’re happy with everything, set it
up, flux it, solder it, oxidize it, polish it, reset stones and pray
you don’t see it again. For a first time effort, I would allocate
most of a day for practice, figuring things out and setting up.
Then I’d do the soldering and finishing in the morning when I’m
fresh. The gods smiled and I did a similar repair on a bracelet.this
morning in an hour, including the cup of coffe while I puzzled out
the approach. Tom


#6

You have to always remove turquoise from the settings before doing
repairs–all of it. If natural, it will crack under the intense heat
or turn black. If stabilized, the resins, oil or wax will also react
with the heat. Sometimes you can get the stones out by using a very
small watchmaker type of screwdriver, which has a small, flat, thin
blade that you can get between the edge of the bezel and the stone.
Lever the blade to gently raise the bezel a little at a time, going
repeatedly around the circumference. However, be prepared to make new
settings.

An old trick that was used many times to cover a crack, rather than
repair it, is to use small wire or a small bezel strip across the
crack. If a wire is used, the ends are flattened so they’ll slip
under the edges of the bezel. Either with the wire or the strip, the
bezel is pried up a little to insert the new metal, then burnished
down over it again. Sometimes, the crack is ground out a little to
make it straighter, and the wire is inserted and tapped down into the
crack like an inlay. The crack then becomes a new
design element, hidden by the addition of the metal.


#7

Have you considered backing the cross with another piece of silver
and rather than soldering use some form of cold connection?

If there is space and it would not interfere too much with the
integrity of the design, perhaps use a wire wrap technique of
binding the two together.

I can also envision drilling small holes and as in blanket binding,
whip lash together with fine silver wire.

good luck, Teresa