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Jewelry Making/Melting silver

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QUESTION: I have a bunch of sterling jewelry that I would like to melt down into ingots.  I'm going to be using a glass-firing kiln, with a silica crucible and a graphite mold.  I need to know the process, as far as how to prepare the crucible and mold before actually melting the silver.  Also, should I put the crucible, silver pieces and mold into the oven when it's cold and let them all heat up with each other? I have powdered borax that came with the crucible.  All the information I can find explains how to melt the silver with a torch, not a kiln.  Can you help?

Thanks,
Laura

ANSWER: Laura,
I would recommend a torch or an electric smelter, whoever is easier for you. Either way it will cost quite a bit just to melt a little scrap to make some ingots. Most refineries charge a fee of about $150.00 plus shipping & return about 98% of spot in ingots, coins, or casting grain, and if you know the quality of what you have & the amount,  companies like Hoover & Strong are very reliable & much safer, and much more acurate, not to mention accurate &economical. A good smelter will cost you $800- $1500. A torch kit (oxy/acetylene) will run you $400-600. 00 plus gas or electricity to operate which all reduce your profit. Un less you plan to get into the business on a regular basis I recommend the refineries. I prefer the torch persomally, but there is a learning curve for using it and not boiling the metal and remember safety equipment, and a well ventilated area.a good leather apron & heavy welding gloves are also a must, and don't forget the crucible prep , glaze it well with borax first, we always had separate crucibles for each type of metal.
I hope this helps,
Chris.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you, I will look into the refinery option.  If I do use the kiln, do I put all three items in when I turn it on and let them heat up together?

Thanks,
Laura

Answer
As long as your crucibles are large enough, and your oven gets hot enough, 1,763F (961.8C) is the melting point of silver, don't forget to get a carbon or a steel rod to clean off the slag/trash before you pour, & use your gloves and safety equipment.
Let me know if you need anything else.
Chris

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Chris Eilertsen

Expertise

I have been in the Jewelry Industry 20 years and Apprenticed as a silver smith took classes in Casting sculpting repair and trained under master gold and silver smiths as well as some experience in Faceting and diamond cutting and polishing for repair. Plating, Wax work, Diamond Setting, Engraving, Carving, Mold Making, design, some watch repair, tool making, enamel work, refining, mining, sales, sand blasting, casting. Have worked in Platinum, Gold, Silver, Pewter, Brass, Bronze, Aluminum,Steel,Titanium,Wood, Plastic, and Stone. 10 years Appraisal work in Jewelry.

Experience

20 years commercial experience in Repair Manufacturing and sales of Jewelry 3 years school 4 year apprentice. Worked on the duplication of the treasure found on the Spanish Galleon Maravalla by Dr. Cecil Humphreys. Traveled with and manufactured the souvenirs and miscellaneous replicas from the King Tut Exhibit when it visited the US.

Organizations
Former member AGTA and GIA and a ten year member of Memphis Jewelers association. 17 years experience in Tuscon Jewelry shows buying and selling.

Publications
JCK Tuscon Show Gude

Education/Credentials
Classes at MSU and The Memphis art academy in Jewelry sculpting, Specialized Repair school, and 2 apprenticeships in Silversmithing from Juelius Astor, and Goldsmithing from Katchic Yacubian both masters for over 35 years each.Studied with Dr. Richard Prilliman, and several others.

Awards and Honors
JCK Tuscon Show honorable mention in design.

Past/Present Clients
Dr. Cecil Humphreys Finder of the Spanish Galleon Maravalla, The Vanderbilts, Miscellaneous repair antique estate pieces. Elvis Presley Repair and Appraise 2 pieces of jewelry. Rifat Hassan and Nihall Mumtaz With the King Tut Exhibit. Trade work for over 36 Major Chains from Zales to Sams.

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