Jewelry Care & Maintenance

Step-By-Step Guide: How to Solder Jewelry?

Rachel Akmakjian

Author

Rachel Akmakjian

Soldering is fundamental to jewelry making, and understanding the materials and techniques involved in soldering is important if you’re interested in making or repairing your own jewelry. Soldering isn’t just melting and joining metals; it’s about precision and artistry.

From choosing the right solder to using a soldering iron, here’s what you need to know.

solder-jewelry

What You Will Learn

Soldering for Jewelry Making: The Basics

When soldering, a jewelry maker uses melted filler metals (also known as solder) to attach two pieces of jewelry. The filler metal must have a lower melting point than the jewelry pieces so that the jewelry maker can pair the jewelry pieces without melting them.

In contrast, jewelry welding does not use solder and, instead, requires melting the unattached pieces of jewelry directly and then attaching them to one another.

For jewelry making, soldering is preferable to welding.

Solder metal choice significantly influences the soldering process. Jewelry is commonly made from metals like silver, gold, and copper, each with unique properties.

  • Silver is a favorite among jewelers thanks to its excellent conductivity and thermal properties.
  • Gold offers various alloys that present different soldering challenges but result in beautiful, valuable pieces.
  • Copper, appreciated for its color and affordability, requires careful handling due to its quick oxidation when heated.

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Types of Solder Used for Making Jewelry

Understanding the types of solder (hard, medium, and soft) and their different flow temperatures is important for successful jewelry soldering. Solders melt at different temperatures, allowing jewelers to solder a piece in multiple spots without melting their prior soldering work.

  • Hard solder melts at the highest temperature and is typically used first
  • Medium solders melt at lower melting points and are used later on
  • Soft solders melt at the lowest temperature and are often used last

Info

A solder with a lower melting point is typically easier for beginners to work with.

You can break solder down further by form, including wire, sheet, or paste solder. Choosing the right type of solder for jewelry is as important as understanding the properties of the metals you’re working with.

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Essential Soldering Tools and Materials

To solder jewelry, you’ll need some specialized tools. Essential tools include:

  • A soldering iron (to melt the solder)
  • Wire cutters (to cut metals and solder into small, workable pieces)
  • Pliers (to hold components during the soldering process)
  • Tweezers (to place solder chips in tiny spots)
  • Flux (to clean and facilitate solder flow)
  • Pickle (a citric acid solution to clean oxidation from metal after heating)

Safety equipment such as goggles and ventilation systems are also important to protect you from fumes and splatters.

How to Solder Jewelry

Create a dedicated soldering station for your jewelry-making. This station should be organized, well-lit, and equipped with all the necessary tools and supplies. Then…

  1. Clean your metal surface and all tiny pieces thoroughly
  2. Apply flux to the area to be soldered
  3. Position the pieces using tweezers and ensure they fit snugly
  4. Heat the pieces evenly with a soldering iron until the solder flows
  5. Once your soldered jewelry is finished, clean it from any flux residue and oxidation
  6. Use a polishing cloth to polish the finished piece

Soldering Tips

Achieving the Right Temperature

Use a soldering iron or a torch to heat the metal indirectly, avoiding overheating. The solder will flow, not drop, at the correct temperature.

Applying Flux and Cleaning

Apply a small amount of flux on the joint area before heating. After soldering, immerse your piece in a citric acid pickle solution to remove oxidation and residue.

Working with Hard Melts

When dealing with solders with high melting points (hard melts), ensure your piece is secured and that you heat the entire piece evenly before focusing on the joint. This prevents thermal shock and guarantees a smooth solder flow.

Advanced Soldering Methods

  • Soldering with a Torch: Using a torch for soldering jewelry allows more control over the heat applied and can be especially useful for gold soldering. Start with a smaller flame to avoid overheating, and aim for even heating around the joint.
  • Cold Soldering: For delicate pieces, cold soldering is ideal. This method uses a conductive adhesive to bond metal without heat. It’s perfect for tiny embellishments or repairing vintage jewelry with less risk.

Troubleshooting Common Soldering Issues

Whether you’re soldering necklace chain links or repairing a broken clasp, common issues in metal soldering jewelry include overheating the metal — leading to warping or melting — and incomplete joints where the solder did not flow correctly. Prevent these by controlling the heat carefully and ensuring the solder and metal are properly fluxed and heated.

To fix poorly soldered joints, re-flux the area and apply a small amount of additional solder, if needed. Heat the joint again, and do not overheat the surrounding areas. If a joint has been poorly soldered, you may need to remove the solder completely and start over.

Still Have Questions?

Here are the quick, need-to-know details you’re searching for.

How to Solder Gold Jewelry at Home

To solder gold jewelry at home, you’ll need a small torch or soldering iron, solder specifically designed for gold, and flux to clean and facilitate the soldering process. After applying flux to the joint, heat the pieces to be joined with the torch and then apply the gold solder, allowing it to flow and join the pieces.

How to Solder Jewelry with a Soldering Iron

When soldering jewelry with a soldering iron, first, clean and flux the pieces to be joined. Then, apply a small amount of solder to the iron’s tip and transfer it to the joint, heating until the solder flows to connect the pieces.

How to Cold-Solder Jewelry

Cold soldering jewelry uses a cold soldering compound, which doesn’t require heat. Apply the compound to the areas to be joined, press the pieces together firmly, and allow the compound to cure, as per the product instructions.

Protect Your Investment

Expand your jewelry-making and express your artistic vision with soldering — and then ensure all your favorite pieces are protected with BriteCo’s comprehensive and cost-effective jewelry insurance. Our policies protect against loss, theft, and damage worldwide, ensuring your jewelry is safeguarded with confidence.

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Rachel's expertise is further enhanced by her distinction as a Graduate Gemologist from the prestigious Gemological Institute of America (GIA), equipping her with exceptional knowledge in gem identification and grading. Her education and experiences have given her an in-depth understanding of the demands and expectations facing jewelers and customers in today’s evolving retail marketplace.