Professional Jeweler Archive: Laser Welding Considerations for Moissanite Jewelry

September 2003

Professional Bench/Manufacturing Up Close


Laser Welding Considerations for Moissanite Jewelry

As the use of this jewel in fine jewelry grows, here are some tips for working with it at the bench


To test the parameters of using a laser welder to repair and manufacture jewelry containing lab-created moissanite (hereafter in this article referred to as moissanite), two certified bench jewelers with extensive laser welding experience put the jewel to test. Both were given loose and mounted moissanite. Here are the results.

Laser Welding of Unmounted Moissanite

Michael Dickey of Michael Dickey Design, Redlands, CA, and Steece Hermanson of Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC, exposed a 6mm round moissanite to several pulses of energy from the laser welder and experienced similar results.

1. Dickey started with the laser on low settings and directly hit the moissanite on the crown with several pulses of energy. The highest energy setting used was 275 volts with a focus of 5 at 4.0 milliseconds. After several pulses of energy and with the strength of the higher energy setting directed at the crown close to the girdle, a portion of the moissanite broke off.
2. Hermanson started with the laser on low settings and directly hit the moissanite on the crown (from side to side) with several pulses of energy. The highest energy setting on the crown was 300 volts with a focus of 5 at 3.5 milliseconds. He turned over the moissanite and directed the pulse of energy to the pavillion and broke the jewel.

Laser Welding of Moissanite Jewelry Needing Repairs

Dickey installed a post on 14k white and yellow gold earrings. Here are the results:

3. Dickey used the laser welder and 14k white gold palladium 30-gauge round wire to install a new post on the 14k white gold moissanite earring. He uses palladium alloy wire to avoid microporosity that is a common result with nickel alloy wire. For this repair, he set his laser welder to 250 volts with a focus of 12 at 3.7 milliseconds. No damage occurred from direct or reflected pulses of energy to the moissanite.
4. These posts were laser-welded using 30 gauge 14k yellow gold wire. The laser welder was set to 265 volts with a focus of 12 at 4.0 milliseconds. No damage occurred to the moissanite.

Laser Welding of Moissanite Jewelry Needing Retipping

Both jewelers used a build-up process to retip the white gold settings. Hermanson used nickel alloy; Dickey used palladium alloy wire. Settings and results were mixed.

5. When building-up prongs for retipping, both jewelers started in the center of the semiworn prong and built outward as shown. Once the platform was built up, they rebuilt the height of the worn prongs. This works best on prongs that aren’t completely worn and have a sufficient base from which to build. If the prong is completely worn, they would remove the moissanite to avoid damaging it with a pulse of energy.
6A. Hermanson retipped two of three prongs of a 14k white gold earring.
6B. A close-up of the prong after Hermanson completed the build-up.
6C. The earring after the build-up was completed. Hermanson set the laser welder at 210 volts with a focus of 5 at 3.2 milliseconds. The moissanite did not require protection and was not damaged.
7. Dickey retipped several prongs on this three-stone ring using a variety of wires and welder settings. The best result (prong indicated by the red arrow) was achieved by using 30 gauge white gold palladium alloy wire. The welder was set at 238 volts with a focus of 1 at 3.5 milliseconds. The moissanite was not damaged.
8. In the process of Dickey’s research, he tried yellow gold wire and higher settings than those used with the prong above. After he tried to fill the area adjacent to the moissanite, a pit was evident on the surface of the jewel. The pit was located directly under the prong. (For better viewing, the jewel was rotated slightly in its setting.) Dickey attributes this damage to the factors of the higher settings, excessive soot and directing the pulse of energy at the vulnerable area between the prong tip and the jewel.

Conclusion

Dickey and Hermanson agree that through careful use of laser-welding techniques and equipment, moissanite will not become damaged through manufacturing and repair procedures. Dickey is quick to say he won’t try to perform repair with a stone in place that he cannot afford to replace.

For specific questions on this content, reach Michael Dickey at (909) 335-9919 or Steece Hermanson at shermanson@ftc-i.net.

Charles & Colvard Ltd. sponsors lab-created moissanite educational content. For general information on moissanite, call Charles & Colvard at (800) 210-4367.

For information on working characteristics of moissanite at the bench, contact Mark B. Mann at (406) 961-4426; (800) 210-4367, extension 251; or markbmann@aol.com.

–by Mark B. Mann

Technical Contributions by Michael Dickey of Michael Dickey Design, Redlands, CA, and Steece Hermanson of Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC

Photographs by Mark B. Mann
Illustrations by Lainie Mann
©2003 Visual Communications

Copyright © 2003 by Bond Communications