Reticulation is one of the most interesting ways to create textures in silver. To begin, the silver must be depletion gilded to bring a layer of fine silver to the surface of the metal.
What is depletion gilding? Depletion gilding is the process of creating a layer of fine silver at the surface of a silver alloy. First, the silver is heated sufficiently to cause oxidation of the copper in the surface layer, then the oxidized copper is removed by soaking the silver in a mild acid (pickle) solution (the “depletion”). The heating and pickle process is repeated until a sufficient layer of fine silver has been brought to the surface. This process leaves a thin layer of fine silver on the surface of the metal (the “gilding”).
Specially formulated reticulation silver alloy contains a lower percentage of silver and a higher percentage of copper (80/20), making it ideal for reticulation. Done effectively, reticulation presents a beautifully patterned surface finish, which lends itself well to a wide variety of jewelry designs.
Eager to experiment with reticulation? In the following video Mark Nelson demonstrates the technique and shows you how to achieve unexpected, wonderful texture.
Already work with reticulated silver? If so, we invite you to share your projects with us and your fellow jewelers. Leave us a comment!