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A list of common jeweller's terms

Below is a list of terms you might frequently see referenced on listings, or about the site. All of these terms are used in reference to jewellery and small-scale metalwork.

Fusing: The process of joining one element to another where they become inseparable. In this case, it can mean the process of welding metal pieces together, either by heating them until the similar metals physically merge and become the same structure, or by using a solder alloy which melts at a slightly lower temperature than the two metals and bonds them both. It can also refer to fusing enamel, which is melting specialised glass chips until they become almost a liquid and form bonds with the metal structure

Patina: A patina is a layer that forms on the surface of metals, usually due to deliberate oxidisation. Patinas can be added in a number of ways, and are used to change the colour of the metal, or give the piece an aged look. I enjoy using patinas in my work, and will often add them, and then buff back any highlights to bring out the natural colour of the metal as a contrast. Liver of Sulfur is the patina I most commonly use, and while it is horribly smelly (think rotten eggs left in a hot car!) while being used, once it is neutralised and any residue rinsed off, the piece is perfectly safe. You can also use salt and vinegar on metal to produce a patina, too, not just your hot chips!

Reticulated: In reference to metalwork, reticulation is the method by which you heat a sheet (or piece) of metal up to a point where the surface of the metal begins to morph, but the overall structure of the item remains solid. The surface often creates intricate puckers and ridges, almost like a fingerprint or if you were to scrunch a ball of paper and flatten it out again. Each piece is entirely unique! It is a very careful and controlled melting of the piece, and requires full attention and a lot of practice, otherwise you're left with something resembling a melted mess!

Solder: Most of you are probably familiar with the idea of electronics soldering, the little lead compound that holds most of our gadgets together! The solder used by jewellers is very different, though, and is usually an alloy of metals similar to what we are working on. For example, if I am working on a sterling silver or brass project, I would use a silver-based solder. If I am working on gold or a gold-alloy, I would use gold. You can find more out about the process here.


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