Reticulated Sterling Silver

Janice Stiles

I am often asked about my Sterling Silver Reticulated jewelry and what sort of technique it entails. In metalwork, reticulation refers to a surface-finishing method that involves multiple applications of localized heating and cooling to the surface of sterling silver sheet metal resulting in an incredibly dramatic texture of wrinkling, rippling, and curling.


I work with sterling silver sheet metal, which is composed of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper, as my base material. Using a propane torch, I heat the metal until it reaches its melting point. This process typically occurs relatively quickly. Once I notice some movement on the silver, I proceed to "pickle" the piece by immersing it into citric acid. By gently scrubbing the metal with a small brush, I remove any copper oxide present, revealing a pure metal layer. Depending on the desired texture and pattern, I may repeat this torching and pickling procedure up to 10 times. 





Finished Product

This is the resulting piece that has been through about 7 cycles of heating, "pickling", and, cleaning and is now ready for me to turn it into a beautiful pendant decorated with a pearl, gemstone, or maybe some touches of gold.
Below is a pair of Sterling Reticulated Earrings with Grey Pearls. Reticulating something as small as these discs can be tricky because if you work them too much they will completely melt and will have to be used as scrap silver.


 Sterling Earrings with Gray Pearls

Sterling Silver Earrings with Gray Pearls 

True reticulation seems likely to remain the domain of the artist-jeweler. It takes finesse and practice and doesn't lend itself to assembly line production. Reticulation is not difficult, but it does take practice, concentration, and a deft torch hand. The pattern and appearance of a reticulated piece is not predictable; you never get the exact same results which of course makes my hand-made jewelry unique.


I invite you to enjoy my beautiful designs and remember to reach out to me at any time if you have questions or if you would like to place a custom order!

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