Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Anyone used natural electrum?


#1

Speaking of Gold-Silver, anyone used natural electrum?

Regards Charles A.


#2

Yup. Made it myself. 1/2 24kt gold and 1/2 pure.999 silver. It’s easy
to work. Funky color. Not white, not yellow.

have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#3
Yup. Made it myself. 1/2 24kt gold and 1/2 pure .999 silver. It's
easy to work. Funky color. Not white, not yellow. 

Um… That would make it 12kt gold?


#4

Hi Jo, and thanks,

I meant the naturally occurring alloy, the one you dig up. I would
assume that it would quite rare.

I’ve only seen one small piece in an Egyptian exhibit.

I was wondering if there was any difference between a "made"
electrum as opposed to one that was dug up.

Regards Charles A.


#5

Hi Charles,

I don’t know about using “natural” electrum. As far as I know the
"natural"l electrum was discovered as an alluvial deposit in ancient
times.

It is very soft but useful in certain situations.

However, since it is too soft for commercial use and therefore not
available, I alloy it in my studio. It has a greenish tint depending
on how much gold is used in the alloy. I have used it for granulating
a “white” gold to a yellow gold and vice versa. You can see an
example of my work at http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/35

My landing page has a pair of earrings with electrum granulation. You
can also see a necklace of beads at the Saul Bell Design Awards-just
look up 2007, Bead Category on Rio’s website. I hope that answers
your question.

All the Best,
Patricia Tschetter


#6

I am wondering what you mean by "natural electrum " as it is an
alloy. The colour one gets depends on the fine gold you use in the
1:1 melt. I have used and still use it extensively for repousse as it
is a great soft malleable alloy. What is it you want to know about
it?..rer


#7
I am wondering what you mean by "natural electrum " as it is an
alloy. 

It can be a naturally occurring alloy, hence my question.

Wiki has come through with a reasonable description and history

Sort of a mongrel metal, and there’d definitely be a little bit of
"mystery metal" in its makeup.

Just wondering if anyone had the opportunity to use some of the
natural stuff as opposed to the crafted metal, and if there was a
significant difference between the alloys.

Regards Charles A.

P.S. Arsenic bronze can be a naturally occurring alloy. Does anyone
know of any other naturally occurring alloys?


#8
I meant the naturally occurring alloy, the one you dig up. I would
assume that it would quite rare. I've only seen one small piece in
an Egyptian exhibit 

There are beautiful electrum pieces from the so-called “Royal
Cemetery” at Ur in ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq), ca. 2500 BC. They vary
in color because some were “enhanced” by chemically dissolving some
of the alloy in the surface layer (depletion gilding). See P.R.S.
Moorey, Ancient Mesopotamian Materials and Industries, pp. 216-240,
on precious metals, including a discussion of electrum.

Color photos of some of these ancient electrum artifacts may be seen
in the book edited by Zettler and Horne, Treasures from the Royal
Tombs of Ur
, pp. 124, 133 (tumblers), p. 165 (electrum equid on top
of silver rein ring), p. 166 (electrum spearhead), p. 170 (electrum
shafthole adze), p. 171 (two chisels, perhaps of electrum), p. 173
(toilet set of silver and electrum). See pp. 125 and 163 for some
discussion on electrum.

Judy Bjorkman


#9

Charles,

I haven’t talked to a single person or source that sells naturally
occuring Electrum, so one would have to locate it and dig it…I would
also presume that if you did find it there would be traces of other
minerals present that would either be beneficial ( i.e.-germanium) or
not ( i.e.-iron)…the quantity you would need to find would have to
allow for an assay to determine the “impurities”…with that in mind,
I would stick to alloying it from known materials unless you live
near gold/silver bearing lands ( Dahlonega GA for instance!)…the
amount of time though again leads me back to reclaiming scrap or
buying the necessary grains and alloying it in the studio with the
caveat that it would be fun to find it melt it and use it…but
developing any lines or collections fabricated exclusively with
naturally sourced electrum would, i’m betting, be just a dream…or
one time thing with an ounce or so that you may find…rer


#10
I haven't talked to a single person or source that sells naturally
occuring Electrum, but developing any lines or collections
fabricated exclusively with naturally sourced electrum would, i'm
betting, be just a dream...or one time thing with an ounce or so
that you may find 

After seeing a piece in an exhibition I was just curious, and
wondered if anyone had the experience of comparing man made as
opposed to nature made.

If you did manage a score a piece of natural electrum, you could
earn a modest one off fee for making something rare. I don’t think it
would be practical to have a range either.

Regards Charles A.


#11

I was once asked to analyse and play with 3 small ingots of electrum
from Ireland that were native metal found on an archaeological site.
They were fairly high silver content and I made some bullion wire
from it (cut a thin flat section and twist to make a hollow wire) as
it seemed the least wasteful use of an archaeological specimen. IT
was thought that the hoard might have been stolen loot buried by the
IRA which is why I was originally asked to analyse it having
previously worked on gold samples from a very large robbery.

Also did analytical work on flint and bronze tools and then set
about copying them to test their characteristics for different uses
that stone age and bronze age man might have put them to. Interesting
results-you get differing wear marks and polishing according to what
you are cutting. Bronze axes blunt very quickly unless tempered but
quickly resharpened. When you have cut a tree down using one and
compared the speed of doing so with a flint axe it is obvious why
the technology spread so quickly and completely (toughness and angle
of friction).

Nick Royall


#12
I was once asked to analyse and play with 3 small ingots of
electrum from Ireland that were native metal found on an
archaeological site. [snip] Interesting results-you get differing
wear marks and polishing according to what you are cutting. Bronze
axes blunt very quickly unless tempered but quickly resharpened.
When you have cut a tree down using one and compared the speed of
doing so with a flint axe it is obvious why the technology spread
so quickly and completely (toughness and angle of friction). 

I envy you Nick, that’s the kind of stuff I’d love to do.

I’ve found with bronze knives, and from friends cast bronze swords
is if you just hammer the edge it work hardens. The edge stays a bit
longer. I suppose that cutting flesh would dull the edge slower than
cutting into a tree.

Do you have any images you’re allowed to share?

Regards Charles A.


#13

I suggest anyone interested in ‘electrum’ googles ‘electrum’. The
best references: britannica and mindat.org which has a beautiful
image of a sample growth.

It seems to be about 20% silver, gold with lots of other metals etc.
And Charles, there are good references to Australia in the Mindat
site. Possibly the first European coinage was struck using Electrum.
My experience or trying to work Australian and New Guinea alluvial
gold, brought to me by hopeful customers to melt down, has not been
successful, It is usually about 18ct and melts issuing various
coloured flames. And when poured and rolled, cracks and breaks all
the way up the billet. No amount of refining flux will help.

I always warn the customer what is likely to happen and weigh and
melt and roll in front of the customer.

They usually agree to having the gold sent for refining and have
been happy with the resultant work. This is only financially
practicable if there is more than a couple of ounces.

David
jewellerydavidcruickshank.com.au


#14
that were native metal found on an archaeological site. 

I’m not an electrum expert or a geologist, either. There’s a thing
to understand, though, and that’s that electrum only occurs
naturally where it occurs. The Egyptians used it a bunch because
they had it - a naturally occuring blend of gold and silver. Here in
California we have gold - not far away in Nevada they have/had lots
of silver, but there’s no electrum that I’ve ever heard of. Not
enough to mention, at any rate. Like all rocks and ores and
minerals, it only occurs in places where all the ducks are in a row.