When you are repairing jewelry and soldering, you must always use the type of solder and flux that each unique piece of jewelry calls for. Since each piece of jewelry that comes across your workbench has a different history, before you start soldering on it, it is important to take the many various factors into account. This article provides several things you should keep in mind when choosing which solder to use.
- Always color-match the solder to the pieces being joined. Different karat weights of yellow gold will be varying shades of yellow and this cannot be polished away making matching very important.
- When working with white gold, it is best to use yellow solder. Though you will have a visible joint at first, you can rhodium plate the metal and give the metal a bright white finish once the repair is completed.
- Always use a solder with a lower flow temperature than the melt temperature of the metals you are joining together. When you are soldering two different metals together, this is especially important. For example, when soldering a 14K palladium white gold (2030° F) setting onto a 14K yellow gold (1550° F) shank, use a 14K yellow solder.
- If you are sizing a ring or doing another one-stage repair, use hard solders first. They are stronger and designed for use in major joining applications.
- Use lower grade solders, particularly the easy and extra-easy solders, for step soldering only.
- However, if you are soldering a hollow item, you should use a lower grade solder as it requires heating at lower temperatures and is safer for the jewelry piece.
- When it comes to the form of solder, you are allowed more personal preference. Sheet and wire solders are very popular, followed by paste solder, particularly where multiple units are soldered in a furnace.
- While solder can do many things for you in a jewelry repair like filling in gaps, it does have its limitations.
- Remember: paste solders have a binder mixed in to keep the solder particles in suspension. The binder can account for up to 25% of the volume of the paste, so after soldering, you may have to fill in gaps using sheet or wire solder.