Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Finishing a Solitaire ring and Argentium hardening

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
    Posts
    8

    Default Finishing a Solitaire ring and Argentium hardening

    Afternoon all, I'm after a bit of advice to finish a ring. I've never done anything like this, so I'm completely new and completely new to the materials involved. I've near enough finished the ring, it's 'polished' to 3000 grit currently and the seats for the stone are cut, so it just needs to have it's stone set and final polish.

    The reason for the post is because I'm unsure what to do next. I have seen on the data sheet that argentium can be hardened at a low 300deg C for a couple of hours, so it would be a bit silly not to take advantage of that (if possible) since I have a kiln. My thought is that if I harden the ring before setting the stone, it may make the prongs harder to bend and file, or even make them brittle? So would it be the right thing to do to harden the ring with the stone (Sapphire) already set (and polished)?

    The other question in the procedure is... how can I be sure that my files and abrasive sticks won't damage the sapphire when I'm cleaning it all up after setting the stone? Is it a case of 'don't worry, no files or abrasive sticks will be hard enough to touch the Sapphire'? Or do I have to be really careful and thoughtful in what I do?

    Many thanks in advance, I'm excited and nervous to get this thing finished!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Central London
    Posts
    8,249

    Default

    In general when you make silver rings, you ensure that any claws are stout enough to secure the stone and hardening is unnecessary, beyond the act of setting.
    If in doubt, you could compromise by starting with a close fit, and /or heat hardening for a shorter time.

    As for finishing, a good practice would be:
    Finish the ring before setting and protect all but the claws with low residue masking tape.
    After setting, re-finish the claws.
    Saw blades used carefully will not harm hard stones, and needle files can have one edge ground and polished to make them safe.
    It is best not to use any sand paper around stones. Just rubber wheels and radial disks, or small mops on your pendant motor.

    Any masking tape residue if present can be removed with meths, followed by a silver cloth. Dennis.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    West Midlands
    Posts
    1,427

    Default

    Why don't you have a go at the processes involved by making it in copper first, setting a cz? You can make as many mistakes as you like and its far better to make them on copper with a cz than with Argentium and a Sapphire!
    Jules

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
    Posts
    8

    Default

    It would have been wise to practise before wouldn't it?!! Not my style though sadly, I'm still not that wise.

    Thanks for the advice though guys, the ring is now finished and it all worked just fine. I didn't harden it in the end, which is probably a mistake, but perhaps if I did I would have some oxidation to deal with, or even then destroyed the stone squeezing the prongs closed?!

    Perhaps there is a way to finish it further in future, it did receive a decent amount of filing and abrading, so perhaps that toughened it up somewhat? Everything is just do vague 'doing such and such hardens the material', well great, but by how much and how does that affect other properties, I'm an engineer, I don't deal well without solid facts and figures!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Scotland
    Posts
    2,985

    Default

    If you are a complete novice to jewellery making then Argentium is probably not the best material to start with as it has its own quite tricky and unique requirements. I haven’t used it because of that but some other practised jewellers love it for certain uses. I’m more traditional and will stick with Sterling
    It’s hard to see what you are asking about finish without a picture otherwise we are just guessing as to the problem

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Central London
    Posts
    8,249

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hold My Beer View Post
    Perhaps there is a way to finish it further in future, it did receive a decent amount of filing and abrading, so perhaps that toughened it up somewhat? Everything is just do vague 'doing such and such hardens the material', well great, but by how much and how does that affect other properties, I'm an engineer, I don't deal well without solid facts and figures!
    Most jewellers are not engineers, but have been trained at the bench or at college.
    They have learned that metals can be hardened by bending, stretching and hammering, or by heat hardening, and get to learn how much of that they can do before the metal becomes too brittle. That's it really. Dennis.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Romsey
    Posts
    5,022

    Default

    Most, perhaps, but not all...

    There's not much empirical data on how jewellery alloys behave in fabrication primarily because there's so many variables. If I'm machining a piece of known steel on a lathe, I can calculate correct feeds & speeds for optimum chip removal. By contrast, when engraving (so still single point material removal) the shape of the graver may not be optimal, the pressure and angle of attack will vary and worst of all, it's rarely a precisely known alloy that's being cut. All the feedback is muscle memory rather than accurately measured too.

    That said, Grimwade on Precious Metals is a good read if you've an inclination towards materials science. Jim Binnion published a number of papers for the Santa Fe Jewelers Symposium that contain a decent amount of accuracy too.

    As for sapphires & abrasives - given the more popular abrasive papers tend to be SiC based, best not!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
    Posts
    8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by CJ57 View Post
    If you are a complete novice to jewellery making then Argentium is probably not the best material to start with as it has its own quite tricky and unique requirements. I haven’t used it because of that but some other practised jewellers love it for certain uses. I’m more traditional and will stick with Sterling
    It’s hard to see what you are asking about finish without a picture otherwise we are just guessing as to the problem
    Hi Caroline, yes you're right, sorry I should have said that while I am completely new to jewellery, I am not really new to playing with various metals and quite a lot of my work is with electronics, so I'm not too bad with fiddly little things, I tried to keep the process as simple as possible. I think as I'm new to Argentium and Sterling, possibly neither is trickier than the other particularly, just different. I find it really amazing how Argentium becomes so delicate when red hot, but I stayed well away from finding out more about that first hand! I've added some pictures below, sorry, as sad as it sounds... I wanted the recipient to be the first to see it.

    Thanks for the help everyone, the ring is all done and has seemingly worked just fine. I didn't mean to be critical of the vagueness surrounding advice or information, I completely understand, it's more a comment on me, when I'm new to something and don't have hard facts and figures to work with I can feel a little lost. Experience is the main point I guess, there is no substitute, I know it's all about the feel of a material, what has or hasn't worked in the past etc. You can't excel at anything in life by following someone else's techniques without understanding, trying, experimenting and failing at things yourself. Having said that, for the inexperienced it would be good to at least know whether hardening something will potentially turn it from camembert to tungsten, or whether in the real world you're not going to notice the difference!!

    I do have the little problem of green finger now though, it seems Argentium isn't immune to that. Perhaps I should look in to pickling??? The remit was for a simple ring that wouldn't catch on clothing or gloves etc, so I set the stone as low as I dared, the culet is clear of the ring, but I don't know by how much, unsure if that's an issue, but so far so good. The stone is a 0.95ct Sapphire and I used Argentium 935 pro as I was unsure how the millform responded to being cast. I carved the ring from wax and cast it in delft 'clay', then followed a lot of filling, sanding and polishing before the stone was set. The pictures make it look worse than it is, apparently my camera and sunlight is brutal to it, I cleaned some finger prints off with my t-shirt and it came out like that... Perhaps I should have hardened it after all! It's since been polished up with a silver cloth and is now back to a mirror finish for a short time. It was a bit of a cop out doing it this way, but I thought this way I could avoid any soldering and I didn't really see any drawbacks. The prongs I think are pretty stubby and sturdy, I could make them a little more elegant, but they do the job (I think). Thanks again for the tips and help, I know it's not perfect and I probably should or shouldn't have done this or that, but hopefully you don't see any glaring issues.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	111.jpg 
Views:	13 
Size:	45.1 KB 
ID:	12983 Click image for larger version. 

Name:	222.jpg 
Views:	14 
Size:	57.1 KB 
ID:	12984 Click image for larger version. 

Name:	333.jpg 
Views:	12 
Size:	22.6 KB 
ID:	12985

    Last edited by Hold My Beer; 19-04-2021 at 02:00 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Romsey
    Posts
    5,022

    Default

    With all of the germanium-bearing alloys it's possible to polish off the germanium oxide layer - and then the stuff'll tarnish again. It needs heat to form the oxide layer; if I've understood, that's been cast then heavily finished so there's no oxide layer at all?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
    Posts
    8

    Default

    I guess no oxide layer if that is the case (unless polishing got hot enough!).

    We're actually thinking it may have not been a mark from the ring and actually just an indent where it was sat overnight (was half asleep and didn't get a good look this morning!).

    Hopefully it may be OK, surely it would form an oxide layer over time, a lot of their anti-tarnish advertising is about that germanium oxide layer?

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •