To repair a broken sterling silver ring, you can learn how to do it yourself with a few simple tools, or take it to a professional jeweller. Here are the steps to fixing a broken sterling silver ring yourself
- Buy the tools you need
- Saw the ring so the ends of silver align perfectly
- Sand the ends so they're free of grease
- Solder the ring
- Clean off impurities
- Reshape the ring using a mandrel and rubber or rawhide hammer
- Polish the ring
1. Buy the tools you need
You will need the following tools. I recommend ordering from Cooksongold
- Safety glasses
- Jeweller's saw and saw blade
- A range of fine sandpapers
- Silver solder
- Tin snips
- Small paintbrush
- Firing brick and/or heatproof mat
- Jeweller's torch and butane
- Soldering pick
- Brass tweezers
- Heatproof bowl for water
- Safety pickle
- Ring mandrel
- Rubber or rawhide hammer
- Brass bristle brush
- Polishing cloth
- It's also important that you find a table to work on that you don't mind getting dirty or worn.
2. Saw the ring so the ends of silver align perfectly
It’s likely your ring didn’t snap in a perfect straight line, so you’ll need to saw both ends slightly before moving on to the next step. It is really important to make sure the solder can run between the two ends when it’s heated to the correct temperature. If there’s a gap between the two ends, the solder won’t run and you’ll be able to see where the ring broke.
Tip: When sawing, don’t remove very much material otherwise the ring will be a much smaller size when it’s been soldered and won’t fit. If the ring was already tight before it broke, it would be best to consult a professional before removing any more material.
If your ring is just bent rather than broken, skip to step 6.
3. Sand the ends so they're free of grease
Solder will only run onto a perfectly clean surface. You have to make sure the piece is completely clean of grease before soldering by using a fine sandpaper to rough up the surface. Don’t touch the solder join once it’s been sanded as this will put more sweat and/or grease onto the piece.
4. Solder the ring
For this you’ll need most of the equipment. Here are the steps you need to follow in order
a. Set up your space
Find a spot to work which is near an open window. Place the firing brick and/or heatproof mat onto the flat surface. You will be soldering onto this heat proof material. Then get your heatproof bowl filled with water, the brass tweezers, jeweller's torch filled with butane, soldering pick, silver solder, tin snips, flux, small paintbrush and safety pickle. Make sure you tie your hair back if it’s long and don’t wear any clothes that dangle while soldering.
b. Set up your ring for soldering
Have a last check to make sure you have a good solder join with no gaps, then lay the ring flat in the centre of the firing brick and/or heatproof mat. Use the tin snips to cut a tiny piece of solder. You only need a tiny piece for most solder jobs, usually a 1mm by 1mm piece will be plenty. Use the paintbrush to paint a small amount of flux on and around the solder join, this will encourage the solder to run. Then, using the tweezers, pick up the piece of solder and lay it over the join, making sure that it is in contact with both sides of the ring that you’re trying to connect.
c. Now solder your ring
Make sure you’re comfortable holding the jewellers torch in one hand and the soldering pick in the other. I advise holding the pick in the hand you usually write with. Light the jeweller’s torch and begin to heat the entire ring evenly, using the hottest part of the flame which Is at the tip of the inner cone. Use the pick to keep the solder in place, ensuring it’s in contact with both sides and the solder will run when it’s at the right temperature.
Wait for the ring to cool slightly and then using the tweezers, pick it up and drop it into the bowl of water.
Tip: Consult a professional before trying to solder a ring that has any gemstones. Depending on the type of stone, these can crack and break under the heat of the torch.
5. Clean off impurities
To remove all impurities that are made during the soldering process, use the tweezers to pick the ring up from the water and place it into the safety pickle solution. The pickle should be added to a ceramic bowl and for best results, warm the pickle in a bain-marie.Tip: Read the pickle instructions before handling it, do not get this solution on your hands and make sure you dispose of it safely.
6. Reshape the ring using a mandrel and rubber or rawhide hammerIt’s likely that your ring won’t be perfectly round so use the mandrel and hammer to gently knock the ring back into shape. The ring will likely be slightly smaller than it was before it broke so you can slightly stretch the ring by knocking the ring down the mandrel towards the widest end. Do this gradually and ensure to keep checking the circumference regularly. For the best result, flip the ring intermittently so that both ends are pushed down the mandrel, this will ensure you stretch both ends evenly.
7. Polish the ring
Depending on the finish you want, work your way through the different fine sand papers, going from course to fine. Play around with using the brass bristle brush too as this can give a great finish. For a high shine, finish with a jeweller’s polishing cloth.
Here are some more tips on looking after your jewellery.
Duxford Studios creates wearable art inspired by the human form, modern culture and the sensation of touch. All of our pieces are cast from hand carved wax in recycled sustainable sterling silver, gold vermeil and other precious metals. Shop our full collection on our website, or get in contact about a custom jewellery design commission.