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Sterling bezel gap filler?


#1

Hello,

I just returned from Mexico where I was discussing a ring with an
artisan there who had pretty sketchy English skills. The ring he had
made consisted of a huge peened area which was the base for a large
oval bezel. I was trying to ask him how he achieved such a perfect
bezel fit on such a deeply peened surface, and he attempted to
describe a filler he uses for the little gaps created by the peening.
He said that he didn’t need to fit it perfectly because he applies
this silver ‘filler’ to the inside of the bezel, and then just hits
it with the torch to melt it into the gaps. It almost sounded like he
was using something soft from a syringe. really tough to say as he
was not able to muster enough English for me. The ring looks great,
and I can’t see any color change along the base of the bezel.

What can he be using? PMC? Any ideas?

Thanks,
Linda
Winfield, BC


#2

The way I do it is to ball up solder and place it inside the bezel,
the ball touches the bottom plate and the inside of the bezel. Place
the balls close enough together and when you heat the piece, the
solder balls flow toward each other and fill in gaps. If it does not
completely flow and fill the gaps, put smaller balls on each side of
any gap, on the inside, and heat it so the balls melt and the solder
will wick towards each other and fill the gap.

Reducing (bushy) flame, not a blue cone, can have some yellow on the
end. Heat around the outside of the bezel until the solder starts
flowing, have the torch as far away from the metal and be able to
melt the solder, when solder starts flowing, move closer to the
metal and move it a bit faster around, and have the flame closer to
the center, but not aimed at the center, more like aiming at the
solder. You are moving the flame fairly quickly when the solder is
flowing, as soon as you think the solder have flowed completely
around, get the torch off the metal as quickly as possible. Bushy
flame does not melt the bezel unless you are not moving the flame
fast enough.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.


#3

Where were you in Mexico? I live just south of Guadalajara and go to
the central jewelry district frequently. I MAY be able to find out
something for you. Yes there is PMC here, but we also use paste
solder frequently. Is it really .925 silver? (There is German/nickel
"silver" here also.) I rarely work with silver now because of the
price I have to pay. Normally I import my silver from the US. Even
though Mexican silver is .925 like Sterling it’s different. I don’t
know how it’s different, but it doesn’t solder like Sterling. The
Mexican sheet I have purchased is dull and had a visible layer of
copper floating on the surface. It polished off, but it’s just one
of the indications that Mexican silver may not be blended as well as
US Sterling. Mexican wire is horrible to make jump rings. It does not
look like my Sterling even when polished and tumbled. A Mexican woman
purchased one of my necklaces recently. Her daughter questioned that
it was really silver because of its appearance.

HOWEVER, having said all that, the Mexicans do INCREDIBLE things.
Using primitive or at least limited tools they do amazing things. Did
you see the torches they use? They attach a foot powered bellows to a
can containing white gas. The gas vapor is ignited as it comes out of
the torch. I can’t imagine the coordination of having to keep
jiggling my foot while soldering. They’ve been doing it all their
lives and that’s all they do. Besides, they do it over and over and
over. On top of that they work HARD. It’s no wonder they become good.

Dick

Ah Mexico! Where “C” on a faucet means HOT, and “M” on a restroom
means THE LADIES ROOM.


#4

He could be using solder paste. I have never tried it on bezels. It
comes in a syringe.

Jen


#5

I almost lost my breakfast, while reading the original post, but I
constrained myself from responding. Well, now I have no choice.

Please, whoever reads this, do not assume that it is acceptable
technique. Absolutely not. There should never be any gaps between
gemstone and a bezel. NEVER!

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#6
I MAY be able to find out something for you. 

Please do not !. This technique must stay in Mexico and be buried
with it’s creator.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#7

Hi Linda, sounds like the mexican craftsman was using ‘paste
solder’, a mixture of solder filings and a paste flux readily
purchased in syringe dispensers in the common grades, carats, and
colours.

Small gaps are filled when both surfaces are ‘wetted’ with a flow of
molten solder. Paste solder will ‘wet’ both surfaces more readily
because there is sure to be some particles of solder in contact with
all the surfaces. Using snippets of sheet or wire solder along with
adequate flux is a little more tricky because each snippet must be
nudged into contact with both surfaces during the heating and
melting. If a snippet is only touching one of the surfaces it has a
tendancy to flow onto the contact surface and a reluctance to jump a
small gap.

Snippets of solder will achieve the same result, but each snippet
needs the attention of the soldering pick just before, and during
the melting.

Alastair


#8

Mmmm. Thanks Dick. I was on the East coast at Playa da Carmen. The
silver ring in question has a beautiful luster. Definitely not nickel
silver. I need to take another lol at the stamp with a loupe… I
think he might have even said that it was 9.55 silver, not 9.25. I
would bet that it could be their own mix though as they often will
remelt scraps and pieces that are nor selling… He said that they
add fine silver in those cases. I think that the paste solder would
just flow under any gaps under the bezel and simply flood the Owens
and ruin he look though, right? The ring is peened right under the
bezel. Would silver PMC even work in this application? I’ve never
used it.

Thanks, Linda


#9
Please do not !. This technique must stay in Mexico and be buried
with it's creator. 

I often disagree with Leonid but he is right on this one. Deep hole
prefered. Silver solder does NOT fill gaps. Fit the parts right
before even thinking about lighting your torch. Rules of working with
silver, or inviting failure.

With gold solders I can get away with murder but it is still a very
bad practice.

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#10

Sorry Jeff but you are wrong. Silver solder can fill a gap. Having
said that, it will only fill small gaps and such a practice is not
recommended as it is not only unsightly but also makes for a weaker
join. In fact, there is a silver solder out there that is made just
for that purpose. I have read this ‘myth’ in book after book. To
prove my point, I have purposely created gaps and filled
them…many times and I cover that topic in a 2005 Art Jewelry
Magazine article, “Flame and Flux”. I also make it a point to show my
students how it is done. This is especially useful in doing repairs
when it is not always possible to ‘recreate’ the join. If making a
new piece, of course, make the parts fit. Making proper joins is one
thing one should learn early on…but there are times! I have found
that, especially when one is first learning to prepare pieces for
soldering, it is very difficult for some to get flat straight joins.
For instance, when filing, our hands are made in such a way that
they make an arc and do not move straight back and forth. So, those
newer to the trade tend to make a curved join…especially on ring
shanks or bezel wire which makes for a really poor (and weak)
soldering job as the metal is ‘bound’ only in the center. Sometimes
it takes years for one to learn to file, cut, or otherwise make
perfectly straight joins. That should not prohibit them from
soldering things together and still making beautiful and durable
jewelry. But a small filled gap along a long bezel line, for example,
will not reduce the overall strength of the bezel to the point of
effecting its durability as the rest of the properly soldered bezel
will support it. We have to be realistic here.

Cheers from Don in SOFL


#11
Making proper joins is one thing one should learn early on....but
there are times! I have found that, especially when one is first
learning to prepare pieces for soldering, it is very difficult for
some to get flat straight joins. 

There are no such times. If one cannot prepare pieces for soldering,
than one must not solder, until one learns how to do it.

For instance, when filing, our hands are made in such a way that
they make an arc and do not move straight back and forth. So,
those newer to the trade tend to make a curved join.....especially
on ring shanks or bezel wire which makes for a really poor (and
weak) soldering job as the metal is 'bound' only in the center.
Sometimes it takes years for one to learn to file, cut, or
otherwise make perfectly straight joins. That should not prohibit
them from soldering things together and still making beautiful and
durable jewelry. 

Jewellery made with filled solder joints is not beautiful, and
definitely is not durable. And it does not takes years to learn to
file straight. All it takes are the right instructions, and right
methodology of teaching.

But a small filled gap along a long bezel line, for example, will
not reduce the overall strength of the bezel to the point of
effecting its durability as the rest of the properly soldered
bezel will support it. We have to be realistic here. 

Since solder is softer than metal, it will wear out in short period
of time, and results are very ugly. If such piece needed to be
repaired, the solder will flow again, with disastrous consequences.
The worst of all, it is absolutely wicked. It is a mistreatment of a
client of the worst kind. Would you buy a new car, where seams are
not fitted, but filled with wax? You would chase after car dealer
with the shotgun, after such purchase. But, what you advocating as a
jewellery technique is much, much worse.

Been realistic, does not, and cannot mean shabby craftsmanship.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#12

Hello everybody,

I’ve been reading this article and I’m quiet amazed that many
jewellers are dealing with all kinds of tricks in order to fill a
gap.

Fact is that jewellers solder is made to run and not to fill just as
a knife is made for cutting and not for screwing.

Were is the proud of the jeweller and his work? Were is the honnesty
towards the customer? I had the same problems in the beginning and
believe me that it takes lots of excercise and craftmenship to make a
perfect joint but that’s the meaning of it, isn’t it! Creating a
perfect piece and having somebody wearing it is the main goal and not
only the money one collect by selling it. What go’s around comes
around and that is the best advice one can get. If you don’t honnor
your work, nobody else will do it for you. If you mess up with a
part then fix it the proper way and start all over again but do it as
a jeweller and not as a plumber. Making a mistake is a good thing if
you fix it learning it the proper way, otherwise you didn’t learn
anything and your time is a waste. I know I’m straight forward and
direct, some people may not be pleased by reading this article but
think about it and ask yourself the final question, “Is this piece
true craftmenship and am I honnest?”.

It is not about strenght, it’s is not about being a beginner and it
is not about a lack of time!

It is about being a craftsmen with honnor, selfrespect and respect
for the customer who’s paying for your work. The restriction is your
personal attitude against yourself and towards a potential
customer…stay honnest like everybody should be.

Make the distance yourself from being a craftsmen or a plumber.

By all means, I have deep respect for a good plumber, they do what
they do but they’re not jewellers and visa versa. Do not use their
technic for fixing a problem like filling a gap. Plumbers on their
behalve have selfrespect and will work without making gap’s.

The anatomy of hands let us do what we’re doing as a human. One can
learn and another one will never learn, that is one thing.
Handicapted person can make jewellry by their feets, so what? Are
they not the perfect example of what a person can do…without
hands?

Do it the proper way, learn it or don’t do it at all. Other fellow
jewellers who’re spending their time of making tenhnical perfect
jewellery are worth it. The name of a jeweller will be carried by
customers in honnor and proffesion in the advantage of all of us. If
you don’t make the differences, nobody else will do it for you.

Have fun and enjoy
Pedro


#13

Is there a method for soldering a bezel or any straight edge onto a
dimpled surface? I belive that was the issue in the original post.

George


#14

Leonid, Take a step back my friend. Take a deep breath and lighten up
a bit. Remember, Orchid is not just for the Cadillac of jewelers who
do everything perfectly. There are many here who face the reality of
’learning to make jewelry’ as well. And some who never intend to
become first line professional jewelers but still love to make
jewelry for themselves, their friends or to sell at local gem fairs.

Meanwhile, I am saddened if my students are not as smart as other
peoples and learn to properly file etc, more quickly. I guess if one
has infinite time to sit and file and file and file until it is done
perfectly, one will then move on to attain perfect soldering
techniques, probably again after doing it over and over and over.
But, in this day and age when I have a student for maybe three hours
a week we just cannot do that. I would lose my student base in a
flash if that is what was demanded of them. My mission here is to
teach people how to make good jewelry, not produce brain surgeons. On
the other hand, some of them are now making their living doing what I
have taught them!

As for the teacher, I guess I’ll have to bite the bullet and
consider myself just another mediocre instructor who has been at it
doggedly for 11 years and making jewelry for going onto 40 years now.
But…I guess even after teaching hundreds of students we cannot all
be perfect! And, gosh, I cannot remember when a piece of my repaired
or my custom jewelry (which never sold a customer short in any way)
suddenly ‘wore out’ I did repairs quite regularly for roughly 15
years (and still do sometimes)and I KNOW about what problems you
speak. But for some unknown reason, never had a particular problem
resolving them, nor can I remember my last unhappy customer.

Oh, also Leonid, having been trained at an early age in auto repair,
I never did learn to use wax to fill a bent fender. When necessary I
used auto-body putty and sometimes,…get this… solder. Made em as
straight as can be and just like new… and long lasting too!!
Cheers from Don in SOFL


#15
Is there a method for soldering a bezel or any straight edge onto
a dimpled surface? I belive that was the issue in the original
post. 

In China, if one wanted to be accepted for training Kung Fu, one has
to pass certain tests. One of them was to be invited for banquet,
where they would be given a bowl with the hole in the bottom and no
spoon. The soup was served and it was up to a student to figure out
how to eat it. If student could not do it, than student would be
rejected.

Goldsmithing is an art, which requires ability to solve problems. Any
project has things, which are not obvious and straight forward
approaches do not work. It is what Faberge called manual cunning.
There are thousands of methods to do things, which may appear
impossible, but that is what the art is, and that what the training
is about.

From time to time, we having discussion on solving certain problems,
and invariably someone would propose some “magic” tool. But every
time, when instead of solving the problem we are reaching for tool,
or device, or any other gadget, we are robbing ourselves from
opportunity to develop this manual cunning, that Faberge was so fond
off.

The situation you described cannot be solved via special tools, it
requires manual cunning, and filling gaps with solder is not going to
cut it. So make yourself a pot of coffee and put this machinery,
which located between your ears to work. It is the only way to do it.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#16

George,

You could make a channel for the bezel or straight edge to fit into
a dimpled or textured surface.

I thought the original post was asking about a curved surface and as
others have said the best way to get a good fit is patience and a
file.

Pam
Newburyport, MA


#17

Some may shudder at this. Years and years ago, when I was first
learning to make jewelry, I made a nice reticulated piece using
sterling which worked just fine. However, when I tried to solder a
bezel on the surface there were some tine gaps due to the uneven
reticulated surface. My teacher—wise person–had me take a piece of
fine silver and file the edges until I had a nice pile of filings She
then had me flux the inside of the bezel, and add the fine silver
filings along the edges where the bezel met the bottom plate. We put
it under a heat lamp to dry the flux, then placed the piece on my
firing rack and heated it from below. The filings melted, and filled
the gap nicely. As I use a lot of reticulated pieces in my work, I
still use that method of filling gaps when necessary. As I am using
fine silver filings I don’t feel I have compromised the piece in any
way.

Alma


#18
As I use a lot of reticulated pieces in my work, I still use that
method of filling gaps when necessary. As I am using fine silver
filings I don't feel I have compromised the piece in any way. 

In numismatics, there is a grade MS70, which is somewhat
theoretical. For coin to be graded MS70, it must be removed from die
by the gloved hand, which is done with proofs, not with regular
coins. Sometimes, coins struck that way for special occasions. They
are very rare and obviously very valuable.

The next grade is MS67. It is coin which did not suffer in any way
from minting process, but was ejected from die. The point of contact
with ejector, is a damage, and that lowers grade to MS67.

The difference in price can be many thousands of dollars, but the
difference in appearance is not even visible to the most. One has to
specially look, to find where ejector contacted the coin. So the
question becomes, why such an tiny difference commands such a huge
difference in value. There are many ways to answer such a question,
but to distill it to the basics - it is the pursuit of excellence.

The reason we having discussion such as this - is not to approve or
disapprove a particular application of a particular technique.
Everybody is going to decide for themselves, where on that road to
excellence they would like to be. Some are driven to go to the very
top, and some are happy, suntanning at the base camp.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#19
In China, if one wanted to be accepted for training Kung Fu, one
has to pass certain tests. One of them was to be invited for
banquet, where they would be given a bowl with the hole in the
bottom and no spoon. The soup was served and it was up to a student
to figure out how to eat it. If student could not do it, than
student would be rejected. 

Confidence in one’s intellect, and perhaps some luck. When I put
that bowl in my palm I hope that the cook made Vichysoisse that
morning.

George


#20
I've been reading this article and I'm quiet amazed that many
jewellers are dealing with all kinds of tricks in order to fill a
gap. 

Your comments are more than just jewelry, they are the reality of
living right. Doing your best and learning from your mistakes, not
just covering them up!

Dave Leininger