Manufacturing Problems to Watch Out For
Poor Solder Joins
Sometimes articles are made from more than one jewellery manufacture processes, which then requires assembling by a bench jeweller. This means the pieces are soldered together, using a precious metal alloy that will melt when heated and flow into the seams. A good bench jeweller will ensure that the joins are invisible and durable.
When buying a new piece of jewellery, check the solder joints, especially where the mount joins the band. If you see any blobs of solder, thin lines, cracks or discolouration, then you should think carefully before paying out your hard earned money.
The only time when a join may be visible is when a ring has been sized. Sometimes the batch of alloyed precious metal may differ from the original batch of alloyed metal used, and this will result in a slight colour difference. This is particularly noticeable with white gold. This can be remedied only with rhodium plating, which will wear off in time.
If you are looking at buying a second hand piece of jewellery, also check it over for poor quality workmanship on any repairs.
Porosity is a defect in the alloyed precious metal, and often shows up in cast jewellery, as the alloy has to be able to flow easily into the casting and may contain tiny air pockets. It appears as small pits or holes in the surface. It can be detrimental to the durability of a ring, especially if the pits or gaps are large, numerous or concentrated in one area, as they can weaken the structure of the item.
Porosity is often found in jewellery that is manufactured in countries where the cost of labour is minimal and the acceptable standard of workmanship is very low. It may also be found in mass produced jewellery, where it is impossible for every item to be checked for quality.