Sterling repairs

Would appreciate comments about heat sinks and protecting stones
from heat while repairing sterling pieces. With gold I have no
problem, and have been making repairs for years without removing
stones, in most cases, some exceptions of course. Now I am
getting a lot of sterling work and would appreciate input on how
some of you protect your stones while soldering. Cool Jool, wet
paper, underwater soldering, etc., what are some of the tricks
you will share with me?? Thanks a bunch. Karl XANADU CREATIONS

  • Goldsmith since 1965

I wonder if using mica would help. MMarrakesh

I’ve only tried once to protect a stone while soldering sterling
and NEVER again. Sterling conducts heat too well and the FAQ at says REMOVE the stones which is probably the
best advice. I used a commercial sand product, wet and it didn’t
help. Dave

Art Jewelry for Conscious People

Would appreciate comments about heat sinks and protecting stones
from heat while repairing sterling pieces

I Use wet paper towel strips wrapped around the stone and then
clamped in my third hand along with an extremely HOT flame to get
in and out quickly. I’ve been able to size thick gent’s silver
rings set with turquoise this way. hot torch very hot (acetylene
with big tip and 20 lbs O2 - very very fast) I usually have to
wear dark goggle to see through the brightness. I keep a special
extra torch set up for this purpose.

Hey, that reminds me of a joke;

You could tell she was a welders daughter becuase she a
a-cet-y-lene legs… :slight_smile:

Jeffrey Everett

I was in Quartzite, AZ.for their rock show and seen a great
demo. They took a ring with turquoise mounted in it and put it
half way into a clay mixture and sized it without removing the
stone. It is called garnet jewelers cast, made by Bown Co. 261
North 1200 West, Provo, Utah 84601. Phone 801 375 2395. I got
some but have not tried it yet. The cost was $12.00 for 2 lbs.,
enough to last a long time as you can use it over and over.

I was trying to remember but garnet sand is what I used to
encase a ring with a holly blue cab in it to size the ring down
and solder the joint. Well, the cab split. I think the previous
idea with a really hot torch in and out might work but wouldn’t
risk it myself on any silver is one of THE best heat

Art Jewelry for Conscious People

IMHO it really is best to unset the stones- relieves a lot of
anxiety. I charge extra for it (I really am trying to get away
from repairs). Sterling is too conductive to make heatsinking
practical on large pieces- though we did do it when I was working
in Tucson- a shallow metal tin filled with water- and a couple of
us aiming torches at the piece. Usually the solder flowed after a

I use Heat Shield on gold sizings- for some reason Cool Jool
never made it to my bench. Maybe it was the funny color?

Rick Hamilton
Richard D. Hamilton, Jr


While I haven’t yet tried the garnet sand for soldering
Sterling, I have cut Holly Blue. While very pretty, my
experience is that it’s about as unstable as Nevada opal. I’ve
never encountered an agate/ chalcedony anything like it. Maybe
there are stable types (any Holly Blue experts out there?) but I
found that most stones developed stress cracks shortly after
cutting, even with cold-dopping and careful, cool polishing (the
majority cracked before cutting was finished, and since I cut a
lot of opal I have a pretty delicate touch). So you may have
chosen a particularly difficult stone for your experiment. As
for sizing Sterling rings, I’ve had success with Jeffrey
Everett’s method: stone cooled by water, big hot flame, get in
and out fast. Practice on scrap: it’s real easy to melt shanks
this way, too. I use the flame-thrower I normally reserve for
casting melts.

Good luck,

Rick Martin

I know from experience that the garnet sand will protect the
stone from breakage while soldering a silver ring. However, it
will not protect a stone that has been heat treated. I now have a
lovely amth stone that is clear, not purple. It’s not a lot of
fun to remove a stone but don’t take chances with a valuable one.

Marilyn Smith