Daily Wire Tip July 21: Soldering Argentium Silver

By on July 20, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
July 21, 2010

Question:

I have a Sterling Silver Celtic Love Knot pinky ring I have worn since 1969. Recently it broke, slit straight in the center back, the thickness being 2mm. I bought a “pencil torch,” and was wondering if I could use it with Argentium silver 20-gauge wire to “solder” the silver onto the back on the ring. I have Argentium silver 20-gauge in half hard and dead soft round wires. Has anyone solder-repaired jewelry like this, and if not, what other options might I try myself?

Thank you all kindly in advance.

-Dtya in Mankato, Minesota

Answer:

Although in traditional wire jewelry design we do not solder, I did some research for you.

For the best results, Argentium solder should be used to solder Argentium, with low temperatures and standard soldering fluxes. For more information, simply do an Internet search using the phrase “soldering Argentium.” I wish you the best with repairing your sentimental treasure.

If it were me, I would take it to someone experienced so I could be sure to have my repaired item for a long time.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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12 Comments

  1. avatar

    Margaret Delaney

    July 21, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Hi I am a member of the Scottish Mineral and Lapidary Club in Edinburgh UK. We have silver facilities and mount cabs in silver. I had a silver ring that split too so why don’t you just use silver solder and that will work. All you need to do is put a tiny!!! bit of solder in use the torch and then file it smooth.
    Hope you succeed.
    Margaret

  2. avatar

    julie

    July 21, 2010 at 7:04 am

    I have found through trial and error that you should not use argentium to solder to sterling. Also, the colors will not match. Try using basic sterling paste and it should work just fine. Use arg with arg only and sterling with sterling only. I have successfully melted argentium wire to argentium jewelry though. If you have plain sterling wire, this may also work, but I have never tried it since I do not use plain sterling wire. Good luck. Just make sure you get it hot and quickly, or you will lose the temper in your ring, and then it will droop. There’s not much fixing at that point!

  3. avatar

    Steve Gray

    July 21, 2010 at 7:30 am

    I have welded sterling silver with a pencil torch several times. It is tricky but it can be done.

    I have two torches that I have used. The first is a small Blazer butane torch. It works well for soldering but it isn’t really hot enough for welding.

    The second is a propane/oxygen Little Torch with a size 5 tip. It is plenty hot for soldering or welding. In fact it is almost too hot. Things happen pretty fast and if you aren’t careful you will end up with a puddle of silver.

    With something as small as the band of a ring, I think I would agree with Dale’s answer. Take it to a pro.

  4. avatar

    mary

    July 21, 2010 at 7:52 am

    Oh goodness, I hate having something I treasure break like that from being worn constantly. I have done that as well and tapping your fingers on the steering wheel of a car gets me in more trouble from the DH because where metal is thin on the backside of a ring, that area is taking the abuse. I can see where you would think you might be able to do a quick fix with your torch and all since I am assuming you might have done some fusing of fine silver wires for chain?
    Like Dale suggested, try researching soldering videos that give you the steps necessary. It might be a lot easier than you think to repair your ring.

  5. avatar

    Marie Yeomans

    July 21, 2010 at 10:03 am

    as Margaret above said, solder it, just make sure you can’t see daylight between the join because solder will not fill spaces, you may need a bit of borax as flux to make the solder flow.

  6. avatar

    Mitzi

    July 21, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Since it’s a treasure to you and not just any ring, I agree with Dale too. Take it to a professional silversmith and don’t risk ruining your ring practicing your soldering technique. Yes, it will cost more to repair it than it did to buy it (even now) but since it’s a personal treasure, it would be worth it to me.

  7. avatar

    Clare Green

    July 21, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Don’t try to mix metals. Use easy silver solder, but do not quench the piece. After pickling you can hammer the ring on a ring mandrel to shape and to harden. If the band is thin enough, a mini torch may work, but if you’re having trouble getting the metal to temp, a hardware store propane and O2 torch (one with a hose) is a reasonably priced addition to your tool box. Sometimes these are sold with mapp gas (way to hot for this application) but most can interchange with a small propane cylinder. This avoids the expense of huge tanks.

  8. avatar

    Chris

    July 21, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I’d experiment soldering on some scrap before you try it. It’s not as easy as it sounds. You can easily melt through the ring. Soldering is worth trying and knowing how to do, though. You can still be loyal to wire wrapping, but having more knowledge under your belt is always a good thing. Plus you get to use a cool torch. :)
    Chris

  9. avatar

    Ken Casey

    July 21, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Practice a lot first. I went to jeweler’s school. It took me awhile before I was soldering thin silver. Good luck. :-)

  10. avatar

    Dena Ellison

    July 21, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    My suggestion would be to take a beginning soldering class if you want to solder it yourself. There is a lot you need to understand including preventing fire scale (when the copper comes to the surface of the sterling) and how to get the silver to the correct temperature without melting the piece. Also, the instructor should have the tools and materials you will need on hand, including solder, flux and pickle.

    This would be an invaluable tool to add to your jewelry making arsenal, and I am sure the instructor would be glad to assist you with repairing the ring, and may even use that as a demo on repairs.

  11. avatar

    Debbie

    July 22, 2010 at 3:35 am

    I too have a pinky ring I’ve had since childhood, that broke in the back from constant wear. I never thought of getting it fixed. I put it away with some other jewelry in a special jewelry box.

  12. avatar

    Lacyblu

    July 24, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks to everyone who replied…Considering I have never soldered jewelry before, only other crafts, and this ring means the world to me, I think I’m going too take Dale’s advice and take it to a professional jewelry repair here in town…Again, thank you kindly for all the replies…

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