At PA Jewellery our goldsmithing is primarily carried out using very traditional techniques, with blowtorches, files, and hammers. However, every now and then we need a more modern edge, and that’s where the laser welder comes in.
If we have a job that requires ultra-precision then our little welding unit is very helpful. It has a highly magnified eyepiece which allows us to see every tiny detail and reach spaces that we couldn’t normally.
The main reason that we got our laser welder was to allow us to complete repairs that would not withstand being exposed to the heat of our blowtorches, for example working next to delicate stones, or working on hollow items where the metal is very thin and might be at risk of melting.
There are more benefits than we initially considered though, from welding base/non-precious metals to filling in engravings. It’s a wonderful piece of kit!
So, what is it? And what does it do?
Laser is actually an acronym and stands for ‘light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation’ (one to remember for your next trivia night!), and what the laser in our machine does is very accurately melt a tiny spot of metal causing it to displace and join to whatever is next to it. We can also use laser wire (very fine wire) to add material where needed or strengthen a join.
In the photograph above you can see that the setting on the left of the picture has quite worn claws holding the diamond in while the setting on the right has had its claws repaired using the laser welder, with more metal to hold the diamond in.
You can think of laser welding as a bit like stitching. Traditional soldering bonds two pieces together by entirely filling the space between them, like glue, whereas laser-welding bonds pieces in a slightly more surface-level way, like stitching around all the sides of an object. This means that laser-welding is ideal for small joins on fine objects, but less suited to large joins such as resizing a chunky ring.
Occasionally when we’re doing very fiddly work with multiple tiny pieces we wish that we could just hold them in the right position with our hands - with our welding unit our wishes have come true! A few quick zaps and the bits are all staying perfectly where they should be, then we can permanently solder them in place (what a gamechanger!).
If you come to PA Jewellery for a repair, most of the time we will use traditional techniques, but we will always do what is best for your jewellery so sometimes we will decide that a laser repair is most suitable. Hopefully you will now have a better understanding of what is involved in that case. Should you have any questions, feel free to comment on our social media or drop in for a chat, we’d be happy to answer them.
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