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About 15 years ago a friend showed me a copy of the first edition of Mark Grimwade’s Introduction to Precious Metals, and I immediately knew I wanted my own copy. Since the book was already out of print and I could not find one, I begged my friend to allow me to photocopy his.

A few years later, I met Grimwade for the first time at the Santa Fe Symposium, and one of the first questions I asked him was when he was going to have his book reprinted. Over the next 10 years, I continued to ask him about it every time I saw him. Though I am sure that I was not the only person to hound him about this, I believe we all owe a debt to his wife, Pamela. In the preface to the book, Grimwade dedicates it to her: “It was she who sat me down one evening and told me in no uncertain terms that I had to get on with it.” Thanks in part to Pamela, the book is finally again available in a greatly expanded version. Core Understanding.

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Brynmorgen Press (April 21, 2009)
Language: English
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As Grimwade states in the preface, he began this work in 1970 as a series of lectures that he developed at the request of Peter Gainsbury, who was at the time the director of design and technology for the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in the U.K. The lectures were given as “Basic Metallurgy for Silversmiths and Jewelers” to people in the trade and college students in the London area. These lectures formed the core of what became Grimwade’s first edition of Introduction to Precious Metals. Grimwade continued to present these lectures frequently, and I have had the pleasure of hearing some of them at several of the Santa Fe Symposiums. Also, some of the material from these lectures was published in Arum magazine and reprinted in Gold Technology. But those are only tidbits of the material presented in this revised edition of his book.

Grimwade has the rare ability to take technical information and present it in a way that is very accessible to read and comprehend — you don’t need a scientific background to understand and use the information in this book. Taking the reader through the basics of the physical, mechanical, and chemical properties of the precious metals, Grimwade provides not only the values of these basic properties, but also gives you an easy-to-grasp introduction to what the properties mean and how they are measured. The book then goes on to cover the extraction and refining of precious metals from ore.

To those who work in the trade, the chapters that follow on alloying behavior, solidification, working, and annealing are most important. This is a complex area that Grimwade covers in a very understandable fashion. The insight that the reader will gain in these chapters will help him or her in analyzing the domain where many of the problems encountered in working precious metals have their roots.

The book then follows with chapters on the principle metal and alloy groups of silver, gold, platinum, and, new to this edition, palladium jewelry alloys. Grim-wade proceeds to cover the various techniques and processes used in making the precious metals into jewelry, with chapters covering the basic aspects of melting, annealing, and casting, along with working and annealing practice, joining, electroplating, powder metallurgy, surface decoration, and assaying and hallmarking. The book truly provides an introduction to the topic of precious metals in the jewelry trade.

It is impossible for a book to cover any topic in its entirety, and this book is, as its title states, an “introduction.” However, in every chapter Grimwade provides not only basic information and observations on the critical aspects of the topic being discussed, but also relevant references to other published articles and books for further reading.

On a side note, I’d like to compliment Brynmorgen Press on the design of the book. Brynmorgen has been producing a series of beautifully designed and printed books for the jewelry metal arts community. I hope they will continue to provide us with such useful and eye-catching books in the future.

While anyone in the jewelry trade, from the bench worker to the retailer, will benefit from the wealth of information in this book, I believe everyone who directly works with precious metals should have a copy. I often find myself referring to this book to answer questions, and I am sure anyone who reads it will, too.