Early in my career when I said “Yes” more times than I ought to, I experienced some jewelry clearly marked sterling that I attempted to repair by soldering*. The metal reacted in ways that shocked me. It immediately began “boiling” and the piece no longer had the form it did when I began. For this reason I do not use silver jewelry to remake into new jewelry. Silver chains are even less amenable to changing into jewelry because of the solder content. Solder is alloyed, or mixed with other metals to melt before the silver. Every link on a silver chain has solder holding it together. Melt the whole thing down and the percentage that is solder is too significant to be practical.
On the other hand, silverware that is stamped with the word STERLING, always in all caps, is a metal that I can use to make into jewelry to an extent. I can heat it, pound it, roll it flatter and thinner and I can melt it. However, I do not have the ability to make the silverware into the forms I generally use to create my designs. The form that I purchase the sterling silver I use in making jewelry is in flat sheets of varying thicknesses and round wire of varying diameters.
I occasionally make spoon rings. This is a ring made by cutting the handle of a solid sterling silver spoon off and heating it to a high temperature that allows it to become malleable (this process is called annealing) and then forming it into a ring and polishing it up. Since this process does not represent my usual style and design flare, it is not a regular part of what I show in my gallery. Sometimes people bring me a spoon from the family silverware set to make into a ring. It makes a great sentimental piece! But it has to be marked with the word, STERLING, or else it is just silver plated. The silver plating will flake off if I try to make it into a spoon ring, so I don’t.
*Soldering is heating silver with a torch to the point that the silver solder (an alloy of silver and other metals that melts at a lower temperature than the more pure silver) melts and connects two pieces of silver together.