September 2000

For Your Staff: Defining Quality

Omega-Back Earring Findings to the Rescue

Knowing how to make earrings more comfortable for your customers demonstrates another aspect of quality in your shop

Omega-style backs for earrings allow your customers to wear a variety of earring designs comfortably and easily. When the backs are installed and adjusted correctly, they also help keep earrings positioned properly on the ear. For these reasons, you should know how to professionally install omega backs.
Instructions on the job envelope: Remove the posts. Reposition them 2mm higher and add omega backs. The space between the omega back loop and the back of the earring should be 3.5mm to 4mm.

Techniques You Can Use to Install Omega Backs on Earrings

These single-post earrings always turn on your customers ears unless the friction back is excessively tight. Omega backs will keep the earrings properly oriented and can be adjusted to relieve the stress caused by the tight friction back. Heres how to install them:

Step 1: Remove the post from its original position, file and repolish the earring.

Step 2: Solder the new earring post in its correct location precisely where the center of the omega wire loop will be when its closed. Hold the omega back assembly against the earring to determine the position of the new post.

Determine the location of the earring post.

Step 3: Place the omega wire loop in its full upright position and remove the rivet wire from the omega back, separating the tempered wire loop from the omega mounting post.

Choose the Right Back

Omega backs are available in several sizes, shapes and alloys. Check your favorite findings catalog for the one that best suits your customers needs and earring design. Some have longer mounting posts, while others have small, medium or large loops with a slightly different curvature. Some are fusion findings (see Soldering Without a Third-Hand Tool box for more details on fusion findings).

Step 4: The mounting posts of omega backs typically arent true at the bottom, which is where youll solder the joint. Another common situation: the mounting posts are too long. To correct these conditions, file the bottom flat and/or cut and file the post to the length you need. The desired amount of space between the omega loop and the back of the earring determines the proper post length.
Mounting post and omega wire loop

Step 5: Firecoat all pieces. Preheat and place a chip of solder at the solder location on the mounting post; melt the solder.

Hold the mounting post upside down in a pair of cross-locking
tweezers and melt the solder in place.

Step 6: Place the mounting post in the precise location and position where it should be soldered. Use the torch to heat well below the intended joint, then allow the heat to rise and complete the solder joint.

Direct the torch flame just below the mounting post.
Enough heat will conduct itself upward to complete the joint.
A dirct flame on the post would melt it.

Soldering Without a Third-Hand Tool

You can secure the mounting post in place using the ABI Tack II" welder or the ABI Tack III" pulse arc welder. Tack II performs tack welding by resistance; with Tack III, you do a temporary spot weld or a permanent joint. With fusion findings, you can use the Tack II to create a permanent weld that requires no soldering.

Using the Tack II Welder

Hold the earring with the positive tool and the post with the negative tool. Hold the pieces firmly together and depress the foot pedal to accomplish a tack weld that holds them in position for soldering. If the piece was misaligned, it can be removed and repositioned.

Using the Tack III Pulse Arc Welder

Hold the mounting post in position with welders pliers and point the welding probe at the junction. Step on the foot pedal, and the piece is ready for soldering.

Assembling with the ABI Tack III pulse arc welder.
After firecoating, preheat with a torch and place a chip of easy solder at the junction of the mounting post and the earring. Melt and flow the solder at this junction.

Another ABI Tack II Option:

Use of Fusion Findings for a Permanent Weld

Use fusion findings (prepared and sold by findings dealers) in combination with the ABI Tack II welder to join findings to pieces that require no further soldering.

An important benefit of fusion findings is you can permanently attach them on a heat-sensitive piece one with a pearl, opal or emerald, for example. The heat from the weld is intense but instant, creating a permanent joint without spreading heat and damaging fragile stones.

The difference between the standard omega mounting post and a fusion omega mounting post is a nib of metal at the base of the finding. The nib is a critical component for permanent welding of findings without solder. Also in some cases, you can create the nib by raising the necessary amount of metal with a fine onglette or round bottom graver.

Fusion findings have a small nib of metal on the bottom of the actual piece, while the finding for soldering is flat.

Step 7: After pickling, clean and polish. Replace the omega loop in its full upright position and reinstall the rivet pin.

Step 8: Place one end of the rivet pin on an anvil and lightly hammer the other end. Turn and repeat the process a few times until both sides have been expanded.

Forever Spring

If an omega loop is subjected to heat above 650 degrees Fahrenheit, it will loose its spring and its ability to perform as designed. In this case, remove the loop from the omega assembly and retemper it in an oven set at 650 degrees F for two hours. This will replace the springiness lost when it was inadvertently overheated.

Be careful not to hammer too hard; otherwise, youll knock the top of the Y of the mounting post out of alignment.

Optional Step 8: Some bench jewelers heat (melt) one end of the rivet pin until it forms a bead, then reinsert it and heat the other end until it too melts and forms a bead. This keeps the pin in place, but you run the risk of annealing the omega wire loop.

Step 9: After final polishing and cleaning of the omega back and earring assembly, place a minute drop of oil at the junction of the wire loop and mounting post.

by Mark B. Mann, Director of Professional Certification, Jewelers of America

Information in this article related to temperatures required for tempering of the omega loop is from Greg Todd of Stuller Settings. You will find additional information related to omega backs in the Technical Information section of the Stuller Findings Catalog.

Information regarding ABI Tack II" tack welders, ABI Tack III" welders, fusion findings and the related process was contributed by Steece Hermanson, JA® Certified Master Bench Jeweler." Steece uses his Tack II welder daily to expedite routine positioning of pieces before soldering and fabrication and for permanent welding. For more information and a list of dealers for the Tack II welder, call ABI at (888) 494-2663.

© 2000 Jewelers of America Inc.

Illustrations by Lainie Mann Visual Communications

The JA® Professionals Guide to Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship Installing Omega-Back Earring Findings

Professionally Installed Omega-Back Findings

A. There are no visible solder joints, pits or sizing seams between the mounting post and the earring.

B. The transition between the earring and the omega mounting post is smooth, symmetrical and even, with no dimensional reduction in any area.

C. The detail is sharp, crisp and even, not overfiled or overpolished.

D. The earring post is properly located in the center of the omega loop when its closed.

E. The omega wire loop is adjusted properly and centered with the earring.

Potential Problems to Watch Out For:

This omega back was installed with no care to its alignment, appearance or function. The loop doesnt function properly. It has lost its springiness and doesnt return to position. Neither does it stay closed when being worn.
Care was not taken when finishing the assembly. The result? Obvious tool marks and unfinished areas.

by Mark B. Mann, Director of Professional Certification, Jewelers of America

© 2000 Jewelers of America Inc.

This information is required for the second level of the JA® Certified Bench Jeweler" program.

For information about the JA® Certified Bench Jeweler" program, call JA at (800) 223-0673 or visit

Illustrations by Lainie Mann Visual Communications

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications