Finishing Silver Castings

Q: What steps should I take in order to get a good polish on sterling silver castings?

Homemade Jewelry Cleaner

Q: Can I make my own jewelry cleaner from household ingredients?

Sterling Silver Patina

Q: How do you use liver of sulphur to patina sterling silver?

Pearls, and How They Grow

Q: When I looked closely at the hole drilled into a pearl I’d bought, it looked like a thin shell of pearl over a bead. Is this normal, or was I ripped off?

Pickle Solution for Cleaning Jewelry

Q: Is there anything that will help a pickle solution remove those nasty pink oxide residues from the surface of jewelry?

Recipe for Chaser’s Pitch

Q: What is in “chaser’s pitch”? Can I mix it myself at home?

Platinum or White Gold?

Q: Expense aside, is there any reason to use white gold instead of platinum for jewelry?


Q: Is there any way to prevent that ugly and hard to remove firescale from covering my gold and (especially) silver jewelry pieces when I heat them?

Silver Solder

Q: What is in silver solder? Is it all basically the same thing?

Vacuum Casting

Q: What is meant by “vacuum casting”? Does it happen in a vacuum?

Flat Bezels

Q: How can I make bezels that are flat, not bent? And how do I get them flat after I’ve soldered them?

Difference Between Burrs

Q: I know there are two types of burrs (also spelt burs) which can be mounted in a flexible shaft for removing metal: high-speed steel and vanadium steel. What is the difference?

Carving Pewter

Q: Can you carve pewter like wood? Is that a good way of working it?

Dies for Coins and Medals

Q: How are the dies for coins and medals made? Is this something a jeweler can do without a lot of expensive equipment? Can etching techniques be used?

Dapping Silver Sheet

Q: How should I sink some smooth depressions into the surface of a silver sheet? Do I need a dapping punch and block?

Polishing In Deep Places

Q: Some of my brass jewelry has crevices and depressions that are impossible to reach with any brushes or buffs I’ve tried. How can I polish down into these areas?

Drilling Pearls

Q: I would like to enlarge the holes in some freshwater pearls. Any suggestions about how to do this?

Faberge Engraving Machine

Q: What kind of a machine did Faberge use to engrave the gold under the enamel on his famous eggs and other irregular shapes?

Polishing Sterling Silver Castings

Q: What steps should I take in order to get a good polish on sterling silver castings?

Best Type of Flux

Q: Which is best for soldering precious metals, the liquid self-pickling flux or the white paste kind?

Brazing for Platinum

Q: I’ve used an oxygen/natural gas torch to solder silver and gold and for brazing. I know that one needs the extra heat of oxygen/acytelene for welding steel—is it good for platinum as well?

The Well-Cut Stone

Q: In a faceted gemstone, what characterizes a good or a bad cut? Can a transparent gem be set in a dark depression and still sparkle? Does it need light from the sides or bottom?

Adhesives for Sea Shells

Q: I make jewelry from sea shells. I have been using hot glue to stick them onto metal findings, but it’s messy-looking and it tends to peel off. Are there any adhesives that would work better than this?

Alloying Gold

Q: I’ve got a piece made of 22 karat gold, and I want to cast some 14 karat gold. Can I add something to it to make the lower-karat alloy, and if so, what, and how much?


Q: What is goldstone? Is it suitable for use in fine jewelry?

Granulation with Silver

Q: I have been trying to do granulation with fine silver and cannot get all of the beads to stay on the base plate—what should I do?

Distinguishing Genuine Ivory

Q: How can you tell if an object is genuine ivory? And if it isn’t, what else could it be?

Cleaning Your Own Jewelry

Q: I’ve got a cubic zirconium in a silver setting. I’d like to clean it; is there anything special I need to do?

Can You Get Mercury Out of Gold?

Q: My 22 karat gold wedding ring became discolored after coming into contact with mercury from a broken thermometer. Is it destroyed, or can it be fixed?

Paste Solder

Q: Is paste solder as good as wire or sheet? It certainly seems like it would be easier to deal with.

Photography of Jewelry—Scanning or Slides?

Q: How can I get good pictures of my jewelry for my website? I can create pretty good digital images just by lying them face down on a scanner, but when I try to shoot slides with a camera, they always come out blue. Is photography worth the hassle?

Plating on Non-conductives

Q: How does one plate metal onto non-conductive items, like leaves and shells?

Tightening Prongs on a Setting

Q: How do you get the prongs of a Tiffany head to hold a stone tightly? And how can you clean up prongs without catching and distorting them?

Coloring the Reactive Metals

Q: How does one go about coloring the reactive metals like titanium, niobium, or tantalum? Aside from grinding and polishing the metal surface first, what do I need to do to get those iridescent colors I’ve seen?

Cleaning Off Polishing Compounds

Q: After I polish a piece of jewelry, I wash it by hand with hot water and dishwashing soap, then I’ll throw it in the ultrasonic cleaner, and even after that it still has residues from the polishing compounds. What can I do to get this stuff off?

Remelt Sterling Silver Scrap

Q: Is it worth it to try and remelt my sterling silver scrap and make new wire and sheet? Or is it more feasible to take it to a refiner, even if you don’t have a whole lot?

Silver/Brass Warping Problems

Q: I’m trying to silver-solder a large sterling bezel to a brass base, but I’m having lots of trouble with warping, buckling, and non-adhesion—any hints?

Making Tapered Tubes

Q: How do you go about making a tapered tube, like the spout for an oil-can or teapot, in silver sheet?

Colored Stone Durability

Q: I want to make a set of rings with a range of colors from red to orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. I know tourmaline comes in these colors, but is it durable enough to last? What else could I use without spending a fortune?

Water Torch

Q: I’ve got a second-hand type A+ “water” torch. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work—what am I doing wrong?