Welcome to our July edition of United News. It appears the recent Brexit vote has initiated the precious metal forecasters to increase their predictions on the price of gold and silver for the remainder of 2016. There are other variables that will affect the precious metal markets moving forward presenting more indecision for the jewelry industry. Within the next few months most jewelry manufacturers will begin to process their holiday orders, and unfortunately this uncertainty in the precious metal markets could have a negative effect on their production schedules, inventory and profitability. We hope the markets stabilize so all of us in our industry can concentrate on providing our customers with excellent Products and Customer Service.
President and CEO
In this issue of United News …
Helpful Hints for Casting Small Ingots for Sheet and Wire Fabrication
Horizontal Boat or Slot type molds are often used to cast small ingots for flat stock or wire making. The horizontal molds made of iron, steel or graphite will not provide the best ingots for fabrication. When the molten metal solidifies in the horizontal molds, it solidifies progressively from mold surface to the center of the ingot leaving a shrink down the center of the ingot. As the ingot is rolled for sheet or wire the shrink area is elongated leaving a porous area of shrink porosity down the center of the sheet or wire. The shrinkage defect may require some heavy grinding to remove from the sheet or wire being fabricated. There may also be some thickness variations in the horizontally poured ingots that will be troublesome during fabrication and more edge cracking is often experienced.
Vertical two piece L shaped molds for sheet or vertical round shaped molds for wire are a better choice. The molds are made of iron, steel or graphite. The vertical molds will provide a uniform thickness and an adjustable width for ingots used for sheet stock. The ingots for wire will be round and any shrink will be in the very top of the ingot. The quality of the sheet and wire made with the vertical ingot molds will be much better. Most jewelry supply houses carry the 2 piece vertical molds.
Casting the Ingots
The ingot mold needs to be well heated before use to drive off moisture and provide a better cast surface – 150 to 200 degrees F is good. A mold lubricant should be applied to iron or steel molds. Oil, graphite spray or Boron Nitride spray can be used. A personal favorite is peanut oil as it smells better than motor or machine oil when it burns. Apply the oil sparingly, a light coating is good. The precious metal being cast should be rolling alloy or general purpose alloy, check with United for a recommended alloy. It is often helpful to cut or file a small groove in the top edge of the crucible to form a spout or lip to assist pouring the metal into the mold. Bring the metal up to casting temperature and stir well , add a small amount of flux if needed to clean the metal. A steady even pouring motion should be used slowing down at the end of the pour to prevent deep shrinks in the top of the ingot. Remove the ingot from the mold after casting, quench the yellow gold right away and allow the nickel base white gold alloys to air cool. Clean the ingot of all oxidation and flux residue before rolling or fabricating.
Silver Refining – Do's and Don'ts
Achieving a higher return on your refining is ultimately the goal of any jeweler when sending in metals to your refiner. Of course, gold refining is pretty simple – gold is gold. But when it comes to silver, there are some tricks you should know in order to get the most from your scrap silver. Here are a few tips!
- Separate types. Silver Jewelry is mainly .925 which of course means it has a purity of 92.5% silver. This material is usually paid out higher by refiners since it's easier to refine. Avoid mixing your 925 with lower grade silver if at all possible.
- Remove blades. When sending in silverware, be sure to remove the blades. These are usually stainless steel and can drastically lower your assay below the threshold for a higher payout.
- Check for hallmarks first. Silver is hallmarked in many different ways. The most common of course is 925 but silver hallmarks range from symbols to numbers. Some jewelry is made with 800 silver – be sure to keep this separate from your 925 to avoid a lower payout on your sterling jewelry.
- Test the jewelry. Sterling silver acids are readily available at most jewelry supplies. While this works well, we've seen many jewelers utilize the 18K gold acid to test silver. When you scratch the piece on the testing block, apply 18K acid. If it turns a milky blue, it's sterling silver!
Be sure you are aware of the minimum fees when sending in your silver scrap from refining. While separating items into karat classes is a good idea, generating more lots – smaller in size may incur additional charges if minimums aren't met.
In recent months, we've seen an increase in sales for alloys that are formulated for stone-in-place casting. These alloys are conditioned to allow jewelers and manufacturers alike to set stones in the wax and avoid damage to stones when the metal is casted.
The primary advantage for stone-in-place casting is of course time. While setting stones in wax trees is time consuming, it pales in comparison with setting in metal. Casting with stones in place is a great way for manufacturers to cut costs. Not having to pay man hours for setters can go a long way towards maximizing profits for the manufacturing industry.
United offers stone-in-place alloys for gold and silver. If you're interested in learning more, contact our sales team at Sales@UnitedPMR.com or call 1-800-999-FINE (3463).
On the Road Again with United
You'll often find United's representatives visiting your shop or factory. That's because we believe in maintaining constant contact with our customers. These face-to-face visits give us a unique opportunity to dialogue with our customers, establish and maintain relationships, and troubleshoot issues with our metals and the processes used.
United also travels across the US and Canada for refining pick-ups. This service allows United's refining team to visit factories and shops to pick up low grade materials, clean out sink traps and filters, and more giving our customers peace of mind knowing their materials are professionally collected for processing.
The average sales representative (or road warrior as we like to call them) spends an average of 120 – 150 days on the road each year. Some of our seasoned sales professionals exceed 175 days on the road per year. With over 24,000 customers, it's no wonder United's team is always on the road.