Technology in the Jewelry Industry
LASER (Light Amplification
by Stimulated Emission
of Radiation) technology is not
new. By now just about everyone has heard of Laser
Surgery or some other use of this precise and
coherently focused light source. The correct way
to write the word LASER is in all capitals since
it is an acronym, but common usage has converted
this word to Laser.
In the jewelry industry the use of Lasers is less
than 10 years old. Its use is still not widespread
as these machines are very expensive, and only
a few companies in the world manufacture them.
Their use in a Custom Jewelry Studio is not unheard
of, but definitely unusual.
Normal joining of precious metals usually involves
soldering pieces together. The temperatures used
are really brazing temperatures, but in the jewelry
industry, the common term used is soldering. Nevertheless,
the temperatures are high enough to destroy all
but the most robust corundums (ruby & sapphire)
and diamonds, and even these stones can suffer
the heartbreaking "fire coating" on
diamonds which could require expensive re-polishing
or strong chemical removal "solutions".
Enter the laser welder. The extremely narrow (around
0.2mm) extremely accurate and well focused beam
literally melts the two metals, fusing them together,
in the area of the join without hurting or heating
any thing close by. Need to repair metal with
a temper like necklace wire or spring clips? Not
a problem. Need to re-tip a prong on a ring with
a delicate stone like opal? Not a problem. In
the usual process, using a torch, would require
removal of the stone, with the added expense of
resetting it, and the unfortunate possibility
of hurting the "one of a kind" gemstone.
With the Laser Welder you touch the tip of the
prong with some gold wire, hit the joint with
a laser beam, and voila - a newly tipped prong!
(it's not quite that simple, it requires training
and hours of practice, and a mastery of the instrument,
like anything we do - but you get the general
The repair possibilities are virtually endless: