The Circle of Life

I think we can all agree that Mufasa pretty much covered the circle of life, for lions and hyenas everywhere.  If you happen to be a goldsmith, the circle of life is a little different.  Luckily, I am here to impart some wisdom.
Here is me imparting wisdom:
The circle of life, for the sterling silver in my toolbox, begins as trial and error in wax carving.  Here are some early attempts at carving balls:  
Once I have a satisfactory wax carving, I use sterling silver casting grain to cast the ball into metal.
Surprisingly enough, I am not perfect, and when trying something completely new it can take a few attempts before I am happy with the results.  Here is my ball graveyard, where bad balls go to die:
Thankfully, the trial and error period does not last forever.  Below, success!
All the old sterling silver gets recycled, because recycling is part of the process.  In this case, I raided the ol’ ball graveyard.   The bad balls visited the chop shop (er, metal shears), and now have a brand new purpose in life as casting grain.
In fact I am casting tonight, and this casting grain will actually become two sets of weddings bands and a pair of earrings.  
And that, my friends, is the sterling silver circle of life, goldsmith edition.  Hakuna Matata!

Recycling Gold

Hello to you all on this snowy February day!

I know it is cold out, but this might help warm you up!

Have you ever wondered about recycling gold, and what that is all about? Well, I’m here to give you the down low. The truth is that all goldsmiths recycle their gold and silver. When we end up with enough scraps, we take it to the refiner. They take those scraps and refine them into clean material to be used again!

Sometimes we can reuse our scraps ourselves without going to the refiner. If we have clean scraps – they have to be completely free of solder and and impurities, or it will just taint all of the metal- we can melt them down ourselves and work them into new sheet metal or wire. But usually, we cast with them. This is the same way that we can take old jewellery (but again, it must be completely free old solder and impurities) and make it into new jewellery! When we make anything out of old metal, we have to add at least an equal amount of new metal. After metal has been used once, it starts to get dirty and “tired”, by adding new metal it “refreshes” the old metal so that it can be used again.

Here we start off with the metals separate. 24K, pure gold on the left, the “old” gold in the middle, and the alloy metal- that is copper and silver we add it to change the colour (white, rose, etc) and lower the karat (18K, 14K, 10K, etc). In these pictures, we are also heating the crucible, a special melting bowl, and a carbon rod, used for stirring the metal.
Here a couple really cool photos of the metal melting. We add the metal in a certain order to keep the metal as clean as possible. Pure gold will oxidize less, so that goes first, then the “old” gold, then the alloy.
 
 Time to pour the metal!
And there is the lovely new 18K gold.
 Ready to be cast into new jewellery!
Here is a gold fox made by Sasha Oda
Now you know that goldsmiths were the first to be eco-friendly! It is a lot of work to reuse metal, but when it is possible, it is the option that we prefer. Here at Jewel Envy, we are lucky to have our own casting equipment. Without it, it would be impossible to reuse our metal.
Thanks for stopping by!
If you’re willing to brave the snow, stop by Jewel Envy, and bring me a hot chocolate.
 Amanda
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