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Sterling Surface Preparation for Aura 22


My last question is about using Aura 22 (the 22k gold “paint” that
can be fused to fine silver). I am trying use Aura 22 on a piece I am
making out of sterling. The instructions say that although it works
best on fine silver, if the sterling piece is heated, quenched and
pickled at least 6 times to raise the fine silver using surface
depletion, it should work. I prepared the piece according to the
instructions (maybe even heated it 10 times), and then fused the gold
to the surface. When I try to burnish, small pieces of the gold fleck
off. I am heating the piece to red hot, just below melting, so think
I am getting it hot enough. Does anyone have any experience with this

Priscilla Fritsch
LuckyDog Designs, Inc.


Hi Priscilla,

I think it helps to have given the surface that will be receiving the
Aura 22 a bit of “tooth”—texture it a bit with a file or bur. That
is what the Rio Grande folks told me when I was at their Catalog in
Motion in Tucson in February. It certainly made a difference to have
a bit of texture on the Argentium Sterling sample that I tried. The
Aura 22 worked fine on textured Argentium Sterling, but flaked off of
smooth AS. (It did not seem to matter whether or not it had been
heated and pickled first.

Cynthia Eid


Hi Priscilla,

I have no experience with Aura 22, but plenty with stirling silver -
it sounds like you are heating way too hot. Stirling should be
treated gently with heat mainly for preventing firescale, the
highest temperature being used for hard solder. Anneal at the first
sign of red heat as seen in a darkened room, as the pure silver
builds up the red heat is harder to see and the darkened room is more
essential. Over heating causes deep penetration of oxidation
compounds, even underneath the pure silver surface.

Regards, Alastair



I have used Aura 22 quite successfully, albeit on fine silver,
however when I first used it, I had the same problems you are having.

Here’s what I found worked. First, the silver piece must be
absolutely clean with no residue of anything at all on it. I don’t
touch the silver with my fingers at all, but use a third hand and
tweezers to hold the piece while painting the Aura 22 on the silver.
I paint on three layers, letting each dry naturally before painting
on the next layer.

The other thing is that I think you are heating the silver too much
(after you painted it with the Aura 22). The silver should only be
heated to about 800 F. Once it reaches that temp, you should
immediately withdraw the heat. Red hot is too hot, in my opinion. I
found that a much lower heat fuses the metals but doesn’t alloy them.

Then you let it cool naturally, not by quenching. Then just burnish
or even tumble it and it should come out well.

Aura 22 is delightful when it is properly fused. The pieces I have
prepared in this way have not flaked and have be quite durable.

Hope this is helpful.



Sounds like you may have overheated your sterling. My experience has
been to heat, quench, pickle at the annealing temp (not red hot). If
you have prepared reticulation silver it’s the same process. You also
may want to call Rio since they sell the Aura 22 and can give you
technical advice (usual disclaimer here).

Try heating the sterling in the dark when you can see your flame tip
go from blue to orange which is when your metal has reached annealing
temp. This is not the only way to tell when your metal has reached
annealing temp as others here surely have great advice about that.

Good luck!