I Was Just Thinking.....
November 13,2012
The perils of unidentified metals

A friend of mine was given three lovely bangles from Mexico, and asked me to modify them to make them easier to wear. After several sketches and thoughts (make them oval instead of round, cut them open to wear like a cuff, etc, etc), I decided to go with a combination of ideas, and cut them open, changed them from round to oval, and soldered on a "bridge" at one end of each one, so that they could easily be slipped on, and then squeezed together to make them sit tighter on the wrist. When I looked them over before starting to work, I noted the silver stamp on the inside. When I cut them apart I took a good look at the cut ends, they certainly LOOKED silver. However, when it came time to solder, they didn't react the way I would have expected. After several attempts, one of the bridges actually started to burn into the cuff, and the "silver" started to look a little amberish (is that a word?). I hoped that the off color was just a type of oxidization I hadn't seen before. After some time in the pickle it looked a bit better, and I figured in for a penny, in for a pound, and threw the three bangles into the tumbler. Well, 12 hours later when I pulled them out of the tumbler, I realized the amber color was there to stay, as a matter of fact, there was more of it, and the "silver" was most likely silver plate, with an unidentifiable base metal underneath. Normally, I would never alter a piece I couldn't identify, but I thought I had covered all my bases - stamped, looked silver when cut into, came from a reputable source.

On the bright side, with a little bit of silver-black the oxidization helps to mask the amber, and the cuffs look good and are very wearable in spite of the fact they are not sterling or fine silver, and so three bracelets that didn't fit and weren't being worn before can now be enjoyed.

As with any art, making jewellery is a journey. Thankfully what could have been a disaster turned out okay, but that's not a path I'd like to meander down again!


Posted by Lydia Podobnik at 08:10


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