Learning Center

Metallurgy

Understanding metallurgy, the properties of metals, is vital for jewelry makers. Learn how to test metals, identify alloys, and work these materials.

59 ARTICLES 2 PRODUCTS
Product
Hydrogen Torch System, Single Torch

Soldering with power generated by this hydrogen torch system is a terrific alternative to using pressurized fuel and oxygen tanks in your shop! This state-of-the-art system, designed to meet a full range of jewelers’ needs, is extremely…

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De-oxidized Sterling Silver Alloys

Sterling silver alloys typically contain about 7.5 percent copper, an addition that not only provides strength to the otherwise pure silver, but also helps the alloys to tarnish fairly quickly—a traditional frustration for jewelers…

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Richard Reinhardt: Discontinuous Continuity

Richard Reinhardt’s best-known pieces today are silver bracelets, constructed in concave or convex forms that curve smoothly and logically in a circle. Intermingled with these simple forms are forged, applied wires that gently…

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The Contemporary American Custom Goldsmithing

About five years ago, Robert Fairbank, John Reynolds and I created a “living entity” called Goldsmiths 3 in Concord, Massachusetts. Our name simply reflects what we are: three goldsmiths, custom-designing and handcrafting…

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Contemporary Applications of Area Inlay

The use of area inlay, called damascening or woven inlay, is common in the ancient metalwork of Iran, India, Japan, Spain and other countries. Since most applications require the use of ferrous metals as base materials, area inlay is not often…

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Bi-Metal Casting to Titanium

Titanium and the other refractory metals other the metalsmith a new range of exotic colors – colors that are beautiful and subtle. The saying “less is more applies to titanium since the colors are created by the refraction of light…

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The Silversmith Mandate: Looking at the Future

The following are excerpts from a panel discussion chaired by Lois Etherington Betteridge at the Society of North American Goldsmiths’ conference in Toronto, June 1985. The panelists included: Gary Griffin, Head of Metalsmithing, Cranbrook…

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Pirotechnia by Vannoccio Biringuccio

The following text was written by Vannoccio Biringuccio, an Italian master craftsman in smelting and metalworking, born in Siena in 1480. Its publication date of 1540 predates Cellini’s autobiography, by about 20 years. And while…

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Susan Hamlet: Culture Of Materials

“Culture of materials,” an expression originating from the early 20th-century teaching of Russian Constructivist Vladimir Tatlin, defines the artist’s deliberate examination and selection of materials for use…

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Gallery Directors’ Role on Metalsmithing

In the world of fine art, galleries wield enormous power. Galleries such as Castelli, Knoedler and Marlborough, through the artists they choose to show, dictate which artists and styles are “in” or “out,” which…

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Master Metalsmith Robert von Neumann

This article was completed just weeks before Robert von Neumann’s accidental fall and subsequent death on April 23, 1984. Books and artifacts – from Eskimo masks to Picasso prints, from anthropology to art history – as…

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Jonathan Bonner: Whimsy and Vision

Jonathan Bonner is a pleasant young man with a quick smile and an easygoing manner. If you saw him in the grocery store you might think he was a teacher or a doctor. If you walked by his house in an older, well-kept section of Providence, you probably…

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Technical Briefs: All About Metals

This entry marks the beginning of a new, regular column in Metalsmith. It will deal with technical concerns of interest to a wide audience, addressing topics as diverse as vanguard technology and ancient arts. It will answer questions from…

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Book Review – The Complete Metalsmith

Many fine books have recently been published for the serious student of metalsmithing. Tim McCreight’s new book is a tasty smorgasbord of diverse and varied metalsmithing skills. At first glance, the book is clearly an important new…

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Masterpiece in Metal by Adolphe Himmel

Among the most distinguished known surviving pieces of New Orleans-made silver is this tureen made by Adolphe Himmel. With its swelling rococo-revival body decorated with grapevines, grape clusters and leaves—both cast and repoussé—it…

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Martha Glowacki & Fields of Reference

Martha Glowacki’s works are sculptural abstractions on the theme of landscape. They demonstrate her interest in the imposition of order on the randomness of nature and her discovery of pattern, both natural and manmade, in the landscape.…

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Metal Spinning Part 2: Techniques

This article is the second of a three-part series on Metal Spinning by James Seavey discussing the techniques in developing spinning skills. The process of metal spinning involves the entire body. As with any hand-forming process, it is the…

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Alternative Metalsmith Pat Flynn

There is something of the alchemist’s magic in Pat Flynn. Like those artful wizards of long ago, he changes common materials into objects of value and delight. Rusty nails, chips of slate, slivers of ivory snatched from discarded piano…

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Master Metalsmith John Prip

One observation on the career of John Prip (more often called Jack) is the way in which the man and his times have grown together. In some people this might be a coincidence; in others it would indicate an ability to perceive and adapt to a trend.…

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Anodizing Principles Update

Although the basic anodizing principles involved in the reactive metals have been discussed in the past, a deeper insight into the process can aid the artist in solving some of the technical problems encountered. The publication of my thesis,…

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Creating Colorful Jewelry Designs

When most people think of colored jewelry, their minds conjure visions of rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. After all, jewelry makers have been relying on gemstones to add color to their work for thousands of years. But there are other ways…

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Nickel White Gold Welding

In this article I will be referring to terms that I have defined in previous articles. If you wish to read those articles in the order that they are meant to be read, contact me at lasers@mantech.info, or 619-239-5842. Nickel White Gold, (Ni WG),…

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The Creation of White Gold

White gold presents unique challenges. Who among us has not struggled with white gold at one time or another? Some of those challenges sparked an important collaboration of every level of the trade, from alloy producers who make of millions…

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Electric Kiln Fired Mokume Gane Part 2

In this article in the series we will go to billet forging and making a simple wedding band in a star pattern. See previous article (link below) for a short history of Mokume gane, prep work and trimming of billet forging. Processing the Billet…

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Electric Kiln Fired Mokume Gane Part 3

This last installment of this series on Mokume Gane  will focus on the different Mokume Gane pattern techniques and the different tools used to achieve these patterns. Links of previous articles are provided below. Mokume Gane Pattern…

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Platinum Consideration Factors

Jurgen J Maerz of the Platinum Guild International USA outlines factors to consider when adding platinum to your line of manufactured jewelry. Technical education is the key successfully manufacturing platinum jewelry. Platinum is often…

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Electric Kiln Fired Mokume Gane Part 1

This is the first part of a series on Electric Kiln Fired Mokume Gane. Here we will focus on a short history of Mokume gane, prep eration work and trimming of billet forging. The first time I laid my eyes on a Mokume Gane piece I was hooked on learning……

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Metal Conversion Chart

The metal conversion chart below will help you determine the amount of metal needed to create a piece of jewelry in a different metal. To use, weigh the piece of jewelry. Then find the present metal along the top of the chart and look down the column…

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Gold and Silver – The Noble Metals

Gold and silver have long been esteemed as the king and queen of metals, for good reason. No other members of the mineral family surpass these two metals in nobility.

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Jewelry and Metals Bibliography

A selected bibliography list for the jeweler – Metal working, Casting, Plating, Enamelling ,Gem Cutting, Setting, Engraving and Etching, Other Techniques, Jewelry Repairs and A Selected Bibliography for Materials Science for Goldsmiths…

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Testing Precious Metals and Alloys

The purpose of precious metal testing is to determine, first, whether a given sample is precious or base, and, second, to determine what proportion of an alloy is precious. Sophisticated equipment is used in a precious metal laboratory to…

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Carat Gold Solders for Jewellery Making

In many countries, regulations govern the caratage of gold solders used to make jewellery and, with few exceptions, gold solder alloys should be of the same caratage as the jewellery. One problem with the production of solders is to ensure…

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Gold Jewellery Tarnishing

Tarnishing is superficial corrosion of the carat gold surface and is evident by a usually dark discolouration – the tarnish film. Pure gold, of course, is not susceptible to tarnishing and this property is generally not greatly reduced by…

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The Metal Underneath

In this article, I will discuss the basics of metal preparation for the enameling process. Some experienced enamelists may disagree with part of this. But remember, these are general rules from a metallurgist’s point of view, not an enamelist’s.…

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Alloys – Look on the White Side

In the jewelry industry, it’s rare to have an alloy without drawbacks, particularly when the alloy is not yellow. When designing alloys, there are a number of hurdles to jump. First, color is absolutely critical. Unfortunately, we alloy designers…

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Understanding the Working Titanium

Because titanium behaves somewhat differently than the standard metals in the goldsmith’s workshop some special attention to its working is in order here. When sawing, begin the cut with a very light stroke, and increase the pressure only…

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The Art of Gold

‘The Art of Gold,’ curated by Michael Monroe, is the first major survey of contemporary American goldsmithing. The traveling exhibition was organized by the Society of North American Goldsmiths and toured by Exhibits USA. Comprising 79…

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White Metals and Alloys Testing

In practice an experienced eye will usually be able to determine by color and luster whether a piece is made of silver, a base white metal such as nickel silver, or a precious white alloy such as white gold or platinum. If this can be determined…

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A New Platinum Sterling Silver

It took about two months of experimentation to get the formulas for Platinum Sterling Silver just right – Robinson created alloys containing 5 percent, 3.5 percent, and 1 percent platinum. But he’s the first to admit that combining silver…

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Choosing the Right White Gold

The popularity of white gold has us all looking to the most perplexing gold we use. Perplexing a variety of ways. Why would we want to ‘colorize’ gold at all? Design creativity of course, but the color purists (you know who you are) have their say…

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Optimising Gold Alloys for Manufacturing

Standard yellow gold alloys which are based on gold-silver copper can be used for many production processes. They could be called ‘all-purpose’ alloys. However, optimising the alloys for the particular manufacturing process…

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Heat Treating Metals

Heat treatment changes the microstructure of a metal or alloy. It is a process that may be applied after casting, or during or after fabrication. Since mechanical properties, such as strength, ductility, hardness, and toughness, and chemical…

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Alloying Gold for Granulation

An alloy is by definition a mixture of two or more metals to create different strengths and colors. For granulation, the following formula is preferred. It is important to start with pure metals. Even trace amounts of impurities can result…

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Platinum Alloy Applications for Jewelry

Today, platinum is enjoying its renaissance. In the U.S., platinum consumption has risen by more than 700% since 1990. More jewelers are carrying platinum jewelry, and consumers are becoming more aware of the most noble of all metals. Many…

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The New MJSA/WGC White Gold Color Index

Have you ever noticed how white gold varies in color? Many folks think white gold is the same color as rhodium because all the white gold they ever saw was plated with rhodium. Others who have bought very inexpensive white gold have seen the “real”…

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Colored Karat Golds for Investment Casting

In modern melting and casting technology, the need for products able to front competition in the field of quality and price encourages the development of new alloys that can guarantee better performance. Most significant innovations have…

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Testing Platinum Enhanced Gold

Following the release of its Sterling with Platinum alloy, ABI Precious Metals in Carson, California, has developed yellow gold alloys that contain platinum. Having had success casting the Sterling with Platinum, we were curious to see…

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Testing the X1 White Gold

When it comes to white gold, my customers want the brightest, whitest white they can get — and some are not willing to pay the premium prices palladium can command. So where do manufacturers turn for a bright white alloy that doesn ot require…

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Platinum Alloys – Features & Benefits

In this presentation I attempted to provide you with information on platinum alloys to help you make an informed decision as to which alloy to employ for your manufacturing venture. There are several alloys I did not mention, mainly because…

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Argentium Sterling Road Testing

Invented in 1996 by Peter Johns, a professor of silversmithing at Englands Middlesex University, Argentium[R] Sterling Silver, like traditional sterling silver, is at least 92.5 percent pure silver. But unlike traditional sterling,…

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Platinum – Sterling Alloy

Throughout the history of jewelry making, metalsmiths have strived to perfect not only their artistry, but their materials as well. In this ongoing quest, innovative metallurgists have produced new white metals in an attempt to combine…

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The Secret Life of Solder

Understanding why solders melt and how they flow is fundamental to mastering soldering techniques. The alloys we use every day to solder our work undergo some amazing transformations as we heat them. If you can stay with me through this article…

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Causes & Prevention of Defects in Wrought Alloys

Much of the recent literature on defects that occur in jewellery manufacture is focused on those occurring in lost wax investment casting. However, defects can also occur during casting of ingot and its fabrication into sheet, tube, wire…

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The Trouble with Pyrite

The first reference that I have that links copperas with the collection of fossils is found in the ‘Life and letters of Edward Lhwyd (second Keeper of the MUSEUM ASHMOLEANUM) Oxford March 28th. 1695’. Below is an excerpt from ‘A Museum of the…

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Touchstone Method for Testing Karat Gold Purity

There are a few scientific methods for precisely determining karat gold purity, some destructive (fire assay) and others nondestructive (X-ray florescence). Both methods require costly equipment, special procedures and a well-lit and…

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Alexandra Hart – Crowning Achievement

Putting a spin on tradition, Alexandra Hart of Alexandra Hart in San Diego crafted Broollopskronan, or Bridal Crown, a regal wedding headdress. The commission from a half-Swedish bride for something unusual but still traditional had Hart…

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Different Coloured Gold Alloys

From ancient times, gold has been used mostly in decorative items, and the colour of gold plays an important role in this application field. Different methods have been developed to objectively characterize the colour. This paper describes…

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Book Review – Introduction to Precious Metals

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…

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Hard 22 Carat Gold Alloy

The jewellery market is looking for harder high-carat gold alloys that are more resistant to wear and scratching. Current research is addressing this need, and this paper discusses the development of a hard 22 carat gold alloy for jewellery…

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Additive Manufacturing in the Jewelry Scene

Did you ever imagine you’d see the day when a finely woven mesh bracelet with thousands of tiny links could be grown in one piece, on a machine, using 18k gold powder? Well, that day has come.
It’s jaw — dropping, really.

Today,…