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Re: [Orchid] Removing lead solder from gold
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james newton Thursday, November 01, 2012
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    Too often I have encountered lead solder during repairs. Either a
    customer has attempted a DIY repair themselves, or a jewelry store
    has done a really low quality job. 

    Either way, before I can do the repair I must remove ALL of the
    lead. I start by physically grinding, cutting with gravers, whatever
    it takes to remove the bulk of the lead. Once all the lead I can cut
    or grind away is removed, I place the piece in nitric acid, and then
    remove it and scrape away and darkened areas ( the nitric both
    exposes the presence of any remaining lead, and removes some). I
    will often rinse the piece, wire brush it, and then test it again
    with the nitric acid, to see if any lead at all remains. 

    Once I see no reaction to the nitric acid at all, I can go ahead and
    do the repair correctly. Any lead at all, if I apply the torch at
    gold soldering temps, will destroy the gold. 

    I charge extra for any repairs where lead has been used, explaining
    to the customer before they leave their jewelry for the repair that
    the lead has made the entire process much more costly and difficult.

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