Is Your Pickle Contaminated?

Does this ever happen in your studio?

You (or someone else) unthinkingly plunges your (ferrous metal) tweezers in the pickle? Or, someone absentmindedly puts something in the pickle pot with (ferrous metal) binding wire on it. Either way, everything in the pickle pot is now copperplated.

Does that mean your pickle is “contaminated” and must be changed?


I have read in many sources and been told by many jewelers that once copperplating has happened in your pickle, it is “contaminated” and must be changed. The problem is, no one was ever able to answer my questions of what contaminated meant. Did it mean the pickle would no longer work? Could it damage my piece in some way? What negative effects could be expected? No one was ever able to answer any of my questions. That made me think it might be a myth, so I decided to test it out.

As it happens, my studio, Jewelry Arts Institute, does quite a bit of deliberate copperplating. One of the techniques we specialize in is 22k gold granulation. I’ll digress just a tiny bit for those who don’t know about how gold granulation is done. Granulation is accomplished by a technique called “colloidal soldering”. This means that the backsheet is heated and pickled a few times to raise a layer of pure gold to the surface. The granules or wires that are to be fused down are given a coat of copper in some way. This has a variety of possibilities, using powered copper carbonate, copper oxides, etc. The method we prefer as the neatest and most precise is copperplating in an acid bath. Copperplating in pickle works just as a basic battery does. Ferrous metal introduced into an acid solution creates an electrical charge. If the acid solution (the pickle we use is sodium bisulfate) has copper dissolved in it (as it will if you have been using it) the copper will be deposited on your metal. I was taught to take a small amount of used pickle, do my copperplating, and then discard the pickle.

I started testing in my home studio, copperplating in my main pickle and not changing the pickle afterward.

What happened?


The copperplating stopped just as soon as I removed my tweezers or binding wire. My pickle then performed as it always had. It lasted for a few months, depending on how heavily it was used, just as it had before. It cleaned off oxidation in a few minutes, quicker when warm, just as it did before. I have never yet been able to discern any difference between how pickle acts if copperplating has or has not occurred. Once I was sure of my results, we started doing the same thing in the school pickle and the pickle acts as it always has.

So, stop wasting your time and money and just change your pickle when it needs to be changed!

For more useful tips and insights into how things REALLY work in the studio please take a look at my new book, Soldering Demystified, available on



Is your Third Hand Ruining Your Soldering?

For some of you, the answer is yes! Here’s why:

Third hands (or arms) are made of steel which has a much higher melting point than the jewelry metals, silver, gold, brass, and copper. That’s a good thing or it wouldn’t be helpful in holding elements while we solder. However, third hands act as a heat sink meaning they can draw a lot of heat away from your piece and into themselves. Often, when solder refuses to flow properly it is because of the third arm drawing away too much heat from your soldering seam. You can use this feature to your advantage –for example, you can protect a previously soldered seam from reflow by clamping the third arm over it – but you need to know how to position the third arm properly when you do need your solder to flow unimpeded. The key concept is to position the third hand as far away as possible from your soldering seam. Here are a few examples:












































That’s all there is to it! So, be mindful of where you place your third hand and it will never again ruin your solder flow.

To learn more about how to always solder successfully, please take a look at my book Soldering Demystified.

You can also join me this August for Soldering Demystified Boot Camp.

Happy Soldering!


The Best Jewelry Soldering Tip Ever

How many times have you soldered on a finding youalignment2
thought was perfectly lined up with the rest of your piece,
only to find it is several degrees off center? (And why
does this become so easily visible only after you have
soldered it on?!!!) Aligning elements for soldering is one of
the biggest obstacles confronted by students and
professionals alike, and yet the problem has a really easy
solution. In fact, when this idea finally occurred to me about
ten years ago, my first thought was, “what took me so
long?”! When I made a video about it for the Jewelry Arts
Institute’s YouTube channel, I called it The Best Jewelry
Soldering Tip Ever, and I still believe that to be true.
For more helpful tips and information about soldering,
check out my new soldering book, Soldering Demystified available on

1 Get a new Solderite board and line up the
end of a metal ruler with the edge of your
board. Draw the line using a ballpoint pen
(the X axis).
Note: Ballpoint pens write best on this surface.










2 Line up the edge of your ruler with the
bottom edge of your block, at 90° to the
first line, and draw this line with your pen
(the Y axis).










3 For more complicated setups, use an angle
ruler to draw in 4 more lines at 45 degree
angles to your first lines. (Your lines will fade
with use, so freshen them up occasionally.)

That’s all there is to it and this technique will help

with lots of different kinds of set-ups.

Happy Soldering!



















Point Soldering-Invented by the Devil?

rubelliteearrings2FinalSILOAn outsiders description of using a point soldering tool could easily be:

Set up your carefully fitted parts in perfect alignment, poke them with a glob of solder stuck to the point soldering tool, WHILE heating it with a torch and melt the solder off the stick exactly into the seam without moving any of your parts out of alignment. Repeat with each piece of solder.

If that doesn’t sound like a recipe for madness, I don’t know what does. If you have already invested the considerable time in making point soldering work for you, fine. If you haven’t, save yourself a lot of time and aggravation and use stone tweezers instead.

Stone tweezers are much better than a solder pick for grabbing, placing and moving little bits of solder. There is no learning curve to speak of and multiple pieces of solder can be arranged before soldering. They are pointy enough to pick up small pieces of solder, and their texture, which is meant to grip small stones, also turns out to be perfect for holding tiny solder balls. In addition, they hold up well when subjected to heat. Use your tweezers to put your solder where you want it before you turn on your torch, and to gently nudge it back into position if it moves in the flux while heating.

More about this and lots of other ways to make your soldering easier, faster and more successful are detailed in my new book,

Soldering Demystified

Read the first two chapters for FREE


Soldering Demystified



In this book I’ve distilled over two decades of testing in the studio to bring you the easiest, quickest and most reliable soldering methods, coupled with over 190 luscious macro color photographs.

Stop struggling with soldering and start making your most beautiful and creative work yet.


Read the first two chapters for FREE

book (2)


Best Soldering Tip Ever with Jewelry Arts Institute

Hi all,
This is the first in my new video series. I have been sharing this technique with my students for a while now and they have found it to be very helpful. I hope you enjoy it! Jeanette Caines


Jewelry Arts Institute named one of Top 50 Fashion Schools Across the Globe

Hi all,

I am so proud to announce that Jewelry Arts Institute has been chosen as one of the Top 50 fashion schools across the globe!!  You can click on the link below to read all about the nice things they had to say about us.  I just had to share this with you all.

Top 50 Fashion Schools Across the Globe

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of my talented co-workers for making this possible.  JAI would be nothing without them.