How To Harden A Sterling Silver Ring
Q: I have just finished my first real piece of jewelry - it is a sterling
silver ring that I fabricated. It was made from 12 and 14 guage square wire
stock that I bent into small circles and soldered on top of each other in
several progressive sizes; almost a pyramid effect with a bezel setting on
top with a shank attached to the underneath of it all. I then filed to
make it all look like round wire. Anyway, my question is; do I need to
harden the ring somehow, or is it already hard enough after the bending to
wear well. Before I soldered the shank on, it almost seemed like I could
pinch the shank with my fingers and it would bend. If I should harden the
ring, how do I do it (I do not have a kiln).
A:Generally speaking, allowing sterling to air cool will leave it hardened, as opposed to 'annealed,' soft. I can see reasons for working the square to look round with a file, except for the shank. That I should think would be worked only to a appear half or 3/4 round. But in any case, keep working and keep on asking questions. Things fall into place eventually. Hard to say, it depends on your last soldering step. Did you quench the ring after the final solder (while it was still hot) or did you let it cool on its own? If it cooled on its own its probably about as hard as you're going to get it. If you quenched it while hot you can heat the piece to just short of the lowest solders melting point ( red hot is best but your solder may not allow it) and then let it cool down by itself. This can be tricky if your new and you may be better off just letting it alone.
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