Lutowanie oprawy do szyny pierścionka.

Soldering, casting and welding

Autor: Piotr Zieliński

Jewellery soldering

For this purpose, solder is used - an ore of the same colour and fineness but containing other components that lower the melting point. A small amount of such solder is applied between the connecting pieces of jewellery and heated with a gas burner until the flux melts, which binds the components together, as shown in the photo above. This process is called brazing.

The soldering technique has been widely used in jewellery making for thousands of years. Currently, you can buy a variety of ready-made additives for the preparation of solders with matching fusibility, fineness, and colour. However, this method has some limitations and disadvantages. For example, a handcrafted wedding ring, which is a folded and soldered strip of metal, is weakest at the point of connection. When increasing the size, it often happens that, despite proper preparation, it can break at the point of soldering. Moreover, by soldering complicated constructions, you can easily overheat the material and melt not only the solder, but also the connected elements.

No wonder that in ancient times the soldering technique was often replaced by casting. Interestingly, in biblical times, this method was used by Jews who used gold, silver and copper cast objects for religious worship. These items were considered sacred because they were a solid whole, as opposed to soldered items which were considered defective and flawed.

Personally, I am against soldering. I try to make my products well thought out and instead of soldering a dozen or so elements, I prepare two or three components carefully carved from a solid piece of metal. Gold is a beautiful, graceful material and I prefer working it with a file instead of a burner. This increases the durability of the final product and gives it a certain measure of craftsmanship.

Lutowanie godła pierścienia do obrączki.

Cast products and production

What about casting? It is regrettable to say that nowadays this technique is exploited in mass production and many associate it with trash. This isn't surprising. In many jewellery stores you can choose a model from a catalogue then collect it in about a month’s time.  This type of jewellery is based on casting thousands of pieces of the same, repeatable patterns. Nevertheless, jewellery that is designed, carved by hand in wax and cast by the artist in the form of one unique piece can be a work of art, and this technique gives unique possibilities of creation, while maintaining the durability of the product. The problem is that casting one piece for a specific order takes considerable time and financial costs.

The technique of the future

Fortunately, there is one more method that combines the durability of the casting and the possibility of developing individual elements before joining , that is welding. This technique is similar to soldering, except that you do not use solder, but only spot the components with a laser at the point of connection. If necessary, you can also apply a little of the material from which the entire product is made to bind it.

Although I use all three techniques, welding is for me the most interesting method of joining precious metals. It allows you to feel the material better and experiment with it, without losing the strength and quality of the joined elements. Perhaps jewellery made in this way does not increase in sanctity, but it gives more satisfaction to its creator and the future owner.