Professional Jeweler Archive: People-Pleasing Plumb Platinum

April 2000

Precious Metals & Bench/News


People-Pleasing Plumb Platinum

A new platinum solder will help the professional jeweler shine


“W hat’s this dark line on my ring? It wasn’t there when I gave it to you to size!” Have you ever heard this from a not-too-thrilled customer whose platinum ring your bench jeweler just resized? And how impressed was she when you told her it was because nobody makes a solder that matches the color of platinum jewelry?

Bench jewelers who work with platinum know the problems platinum solders cause: dark or discolored seam lines, porosity and color that doesn’t match the rest of the piece. To solve the problem, Precious Metals West/Fine Gold, Los Angeles, CA, has developed plumb (90%-95%) platinum solder.

The patent-pending solder is unique because it has the same platinum content as most platinum jewelry, says Daniel Ballard, the company’s national sales manager. Traditional platinum solders have anywhere from no platinum to 20%. They rest of these solders is composed of other metals, such as gold, silver, nickel and palladium.

Precious Metals West/Fine Gold manufactures solders, alloys, sheet and wire products in gold, silver and platinum. After much trial and error, owner Keith Weinstein developed the high-platinum content alloy with a flow temperature comparable to alloys with low or no platinum.

The plumb platinum alloy also allowed Weinstein to vary the platinum content in the solder to achieve a range of colors and flow temperatures. The solder is available in three flows: “Easy” is 90% platinum and flows at 1,300° Celsius; “Medium” is 92.5% platinum and flows at 1,400°C; “Hard” is 95% platinum and flows at 1,500°C.

This content range enables you to find a solder that’s plumb for almost any jewelry on the market and to color-match any jewelry you might solder.

Lower Temps

The plumb platinum solder also solves another repair dilemma. Bench jewelers often use high-temperature solders (many of which have palladium and little platinum) to avoid the color problems of traditional platinum solder. But they have flow temperatures above 1,700°C, uncomfortably close to the flow temperature of the jewelry being soldered.

Unlike many traditional platinum solders, plumb platinum solder contains no nickel, which can cause porosity in the soldering process (and aggravate sensitive skin). Of course, you can have porosity with any solder if it’s not used properly. But with good technique, you can avert porosity by using solder with no nickel.

High-platinum-content solder also eliminates the need to use flux, which can cause polishing problems.

Legal Too

On a legal note, the new plumb platinum solder can guarantee you won’t run afoul of the National Gold and Silver Stamping Act. This law says the fineness of the entire platinum object, including any solder, must not vary by more than 50/1,000ths from the amount indicated by its quality mark. Large amounts of solder with little or no platinum content could push the piece outside permissible tolerances.

The 90%, 92.5% and 95% platinum alloys have been on the market since September, and patents are pending on all three. The initial cost is about $49 per pennyweight; and no minimum order is required. Ballard says this price is comparable to welding products, though it’s higher than traditional low-temperature flow/low-platinum content solders. Meanwhile, the company continues its work on developing lower-flow platinum solders.

  • Precious Metals West/Fine Gold, Los Angeles, CA; (800) 999-7528.

Soldering platinum jewelry just got easier


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