Posted June 11, 2014 by Esslinger Staff
Working with silver can be a tricky task since the metal heats easily and conducts heat quickly. When you need to repair silver rings, you should take care to protect any gemstones in the setting and be sure to pay close attention to how much heat you apply to the repair. In the article, we’ll go through what you need to do to successfully repair a silver ring shank.
First take stock of how badly the ring shank is damaged. This could be anything from a break in the shank to the damage caused by an encounter with a garbage disposal. Then, note the size that the ring should be. Once you have done that you are ready to go about re-rounding the shank as best as possible using a half-round pliers.
At this point in the repair process, as long as the two ends of the shank are in perfect alignment with each other, it is not necessary for the ring to be completely round again. Once you have completed the soldering process you will be able to finish rounding the ring.
Hold the seam where the two ends of the shank meet up to the light. Inspect it to be sure that no sliver of light can be seen through the seam. Use a flat file to correct the seam if you can see any light through the seam. The seam needs to be absolutely perfect for the repair to continue smoothly.
As you get ready to solder the seam in the shank it is important to take into account any gems in the ring that may be heat sensitive. Since silver is an excellent heat conductor, you must be sure to take all necessary precautions to protect the gems. You can bury the top of the ring in wet refractory wadding, place the top of the ring in a dish of water, or bury the top of the ring in wet sand. Whichever method you choose, be sure that the heat-sensitive area is completely enclosed and as much of the shank is showing as possible. Once the gems have been properly protected, flux the seam and place a bit of easy or medium solder on top.
Since silver is such a conductive metal, soldering the ring will be difficult. To avoid as many complications as possible, use as little material in your heat shield as possible and work as quickly as possible. Use a very hot, focused, flame and be ready to spread the solder as soon as it flows. Once you have spread the solder and the seam has been filled, remove the flame and quickly cool the shank and wadding.
Once you are ready to pickle the ring, DO NOT place the gem in the acid. Keep the shank in the liquid, while holding the setting out of the liquid. After a minute, remove the shank from the pickle, rinse and dry it, and then inspect the seam to be sure it has been correctly sealed. You will now be ready to work on reshaping the ring. The heating process will have softened the silver some and it will be much easier to re-round the ring. Slide the ring onto a fixed mandrel and using a brass punch, begin to round the ring. Use a chasing hammer to force the raised parts back into place.
Check the size of the ring. If the ring is a bit too small, you will want to stretch the shank. Use a mallet to force the ring up the mandrel. Use a fine needle file or coarse abrasive paper to remove any deep nicks or scratches. Also, check the setting to be sure everything is still secure. Tighten any stones that need tightening. Finely sand the shank, buff, clean, polish the ring and then clean it again. Visit Esslinger.com’s Learning Center for more useful guides.