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How did you break into gold?


#1

Dear All,

I’m wondering how many of you began working in gold - and metals
leaps and bounds more costly than silver.

I’d like to incorporate some gold with the silver I now work in but
just the thought of the cost and risk is scary. How did you do it?

Cyndy


#2

Dear Cyndy,

Working in gold came in the later years. I first started in resin,
moved onto silver, then incorporated a little 14kt gold, after I
worked in just 14kt gold and then 22kt gold, which is now the
standard material I work in. This was a process which I would have
happily shortened had I had the financial stability to do so. I am
now happy working in 22kt and although I know if I worked in lower
karat gold I would have a larger stock, I feel, this is right for me.

Hope this helped!

Pamela Harari


#3

I just went for it and jumped in feet first and will not go back to
only one medium.

Leslie


#4

when i began goldsmithing the cost per ounce was less than 200
dollars, a stretch then…but once I had that casting grain in my
hands i became fascinated with the possibilities and colour ranges I
could achieve with various archaic alloy formulae.From then on I
just treated it much like any other metals: if not happy with a piece
remove solder, melt/refine, remelt,add whatever metals required to
give me the desired colour or karat and pour again…I still have a
piece of the first ingot of 24 kt. I “made”…it has never stopped
fascinating me as to speculations or the possibilities of where it
had been before I received it. I also find gold more forgiving to
work with than silver in many ways, and only alloy/ use 14 kt if a
part of a piece requires strength or durability. gold simply
increases your potential for design…so try that incorporation
you’ve been wanting to do…just watch the market and check all the
suppliers for the best prices on what you want…and if you know other
jewelers consider pooling your order to maximize your discounts as
the more you buy the cheaper it is.While I don’t usually like to
recommend or endorse specific vendors I personally find Hoover and
Strong to be the best and most consistent supplier in terms of color
choices and matching, volume discount policy,reasonable fabrication
charges and personalized services beyond standard…Stewart Grice, the
primary metallurgist outside of the Hoover family is always more than
willing to share his expertise…and they don’t charge for their
catalogs! David Fell on the other hand rarely answers email about
product enquiries in my experience…so it all depends on one’s
personal tastes as to where to obtain gold in what form and all the
other factors that make doing business with a company,when one is
poor and about to put out a chunk of your life savings matter
most.However,only your own experiences count so you have to enter
that realm with the most objective - that
you can gather on a supplier before spending the kind of money gold
is currently fetching. my main recommendation is not to pay for
14karat gold.you would do better spending the same amount on casting
grain,adding your own silver and/or copper,etc. to get the desired
colour and karat and avoid paying fabrication charges unless you are
after tubing…in which case it may be worthwhile to order it ready
made…

R.E.Rourke


#5

Cindy,

When I first started to use some gold with silver about 30 years ago,
I quickly realized that, a relatively small amount of gold combined
with silver, raises the perceived value of the piece by far more than
the actual cost of gold involved. I think that this is still true
today even with the high cost of gold, which is still well below it’s
historic high. You just have to take the plunge, buy small amounts to
start with, use it judiciously, and see what happens.

Joel Schwalb
www.schwalbstudio.com


#6

Hello Cyndy,

You asked how people “broke” into working in gold.

My story begins with Mr. James Cook of Abilene TX. Bless his
kindness to a curious stranger. When I asked how gold was different
than silver, he said he’d show me. By that, he meant I’d learn by
doing and watching. He suggested getting a heavy man’s gold class
ring from a pawn shop, which we melted down, and poured an ingot
using cuttlebone sliced in two and an iron “U”. Then milled the metal
into sheet.

I drew a design for a ring and cut out the parts. He allowed me to
use his solder and torch to assemble my ring. I learned how
differently gold solders - it’s really much easier than soldering
silver… very forgiving. From that point on, it was a matter of
saving up some money in order to buy more gold.

Check out auctions and pawn shops (even your relatives) for
inexpensive gold jewelry that you can melt or cut up. Avoid chains
though - they have a lot of solder in them and make funky alloys.
You’ll have to buy some gold solder - but it lasts a long time. If
you have a metal-buddy, perhaps you can split the order. The students
frequently do that.

Hope you get lots of ideas and decide to plunge right in. Judy in
Kansas, where recent rains are making up for the “droughthy” last
few years! Can you say flood?


#7

When I started gold was $175. That made it kinda easy. A year or so
later gold hit $800. Standing in a line that did actually extend
down the block, waiting to scrap my scrap, I’m thinking, “I love this
gold stuff!”


#8

I broke into gold through the help of friends who gave me finished
14K+ jewelry that they didn’t want anymore. Anything that I could
incorporate into jewelry went in as accent pieces on sterling silver.
The rest was melted into sheet and wire.

As those pieces sold, I used the profits to buy more gold. Slow but
steady. Talk to your friends.

Debby


#9

Hi Cyndy,

For me the prerequisite for working in gold was to have the means to
melt my own alloys, a rolling mill, and a draw plate. I had learned
how to use them from my mentor using his gold, along with recipes for
the various alloys and colours of gold and their properties.

I was then able to buy a quarter ounce of pure gold and alloy and
form it into anything I needed. Scraps can be recycled along with
mistakes - melt and cast them into a bar and start again!

The rolling mill was the last item I purchased and in the interim I
could produce fairly accurate sheets and bars using a sledge hammer,
various hammers, and anvil.

It takes a long time for the allure of working with gold to wear off
to a state that gold is just another metal to be bought, formed, and
sold at a profit; and to have built up a reserve of various alloys
and colors so that getting more is not stressful. The sooner you do
it, the sooner you will get to that state. To a person starting off
it may be best to keep to one alloy and color and gradually expand
from there. Gold is an expensive metal, but a) the customer pays for
it in the end, and b) it is never lost; it can be recycled many times
and by refining as a last resort.

My method for not getting complacent in recovering lemel and sweeps
is to believe that losing gold is bad luck.

That is my story, thanks for asking!

Alastair


#10

I am curios, what is that exactly that makes you insecure working
with gold ?


#11
You just have to take the plunge, buy small amounts to start with,
use it judiciously, and see what happens. 

I will jump in here and add three bits of advice:

Starting with 14k seems natural, but the low melting point makes it
much more difficult to use (for me, anyway) than higher carat. Plus,
it does not contrast very well with silver-- too pale. So I would
say you’ll actually spend less (less waste) if you start with 18k.

Second, it is vital to be aware that gold does not transmit heat
like silver. The heat stays where you put it, and can build up and
cause melting (see point number 1). It takes getting used to. Solder
won’t just flow all over the way it does on silver.

A good way to start getting a nice gold-silver contrast with maximum
ease is to applique (solder) 22k/silver bimetal onto silver pieces.
Great gold color, relatively little gold (cost), and the soldering
is silver to silver. Reactive Metals sells it, plus I think some
others. Downside is it wears off relatively quickly in high-abrasion
areas like a ring.

Noel


#12

Cyndy,

My first attempt at a ring, other than a coin ring when I was a
teenager, was in silver wire, and it was a very educational
disaster. Once I knew the pitfalls, though, since I wanted to make
myself a gold ring, I just got some gold wire and did it. I had no
idea what it was going to cost, but when I paid for it I just gritted
my teeth and wrote the check.

I plead ignorance, in other words. :slight_smile:

Loren
http://www.golden-knots.com


#13

I broke into gold by working in better and better shops over the
years. What I want to say regarding this, though, is that for
newbies in gold who might have the shakes about it - gold is a LOT
easier to work than silver. There’s some things to learn about
fluxes and stuff, and you need to pin down the soldering temp. just
like silver - stuff like that. But don’t be nervous about working
it. Pretty much all the issues with silver - the heat thing,
firescale, solder that’s like water - just vanish in gold. It rolls,
bends, solders, files and polishes just like a dream, comparitively.
Since I have huge experience with silver from my past, goldsmiths
bring me their silver to solder because they just don’t know how -
not that I like it…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#14

I spent 5 years working only in gold—doing custom work for two
stores, and in a gold jewelry factory. When it’s the only material in
the shop, it starts to be like play-doh!

It is best to remember that you can melt it down and roll it out
again. (like play-clay) Keeping that in mind takes some of the fear
of failure out of the situation.

Furthermore, as another aid to removing fear: when I use gold that I
re-melted myself, I try to design the piece to be textured, so that
I don’t have to worry about a perfect melt and roll…

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com


#15

Hi

It is best to remember that you can melt it down and roll it out
again. (like play-clay) Keeping that in mind takes some of the
fear of failure out of the situation. 

I have enjoyed reading everyone’s advice on gold. There have been
some really good tips. The thing that scares me a little about it is
the need to alloy it to 22 or 18k…when I went to school, the
instructor told a story of someone who made an error when alloying to
22k. They ended up with something very brittle that had to sent in as
scrap. It cost them a lot of money. Is this really a danger?
Admittedly, I had not cross checked the prices, but I thought that
alloying your own material was the only way to go if you wanted to
make a good profit…am I way off base? Does the above statement
only apply to 24k? Also, for everyone who is saying they got into
gold by melting down old jewelry. Did you worry about the content?
How would you describe the quality of the gold in your finished
piece? If it was for sale to someone, unless I’m wrong, you couldn’t
really say for sure what karat it was…Thanks Noel, I’m checking out
your tip on bimetal, I had not idea that existed…I thought people
made it themselves somehow :slight_smile:

Thanks
Kim Starbard
http://www.kimstarbarddesigns.com


#16

Gold. It’s just a metal. A nice metal, a ductile metal, a yummy
metal, but just metal.

This metal can be hammered, soldered, melted, stretched, embossed
and compressed. If you don’t like the metal anymore, YOU CAN SEND IT
BACK…FOR MONEY.

During your learning process about this metal, you gained experience
on how this metal operates and you will still get most of what you
paid for this metal when you return it from where you bought it.

No breaking into gold necessary. Just do it. Buy a little and play.
Learn.

Easy.

M E T A L W E R X
School for Jewelry and the Metalarts
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
781 891 3854
www.metalwerx.com


#17
I thought that alloying your own material was the only way to go
if you wanted to make a good profit....am I way off base? 

Alloying your own will lower your initial financial investment, and
increase your time investment. If you have the necessary skills and
equipment, this may be a good trade-off. It also may not.

My personal attitude (since I do not have all the necessary skills
and equipment) is to do what I’m good at, and let machines (and
companies) do what they’re good at. I buy my gold ready to use just
as I do my silver. It is still profitable, if I don’t shoot myself
in the foot by underpricing.

Noel


#18
Admittedly, I had not cross checked the prices, but I thought that
alloying your own material was the only way to go if you wanted to
make a good profit....am I way off base? 

Hogwash. Alloying all your own gold is fun but extremely time
consuming. What do you want to do with your life? Make jewelry or
make alloy?

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
www.spirerjewelers.com


#19
the instructor told a story of someone who made an error when
alloying to 22k. They ended up with something very brittle that
had to sent in as Just don't make mistakes - pay attention, use the
right alloy, do the math twice. And: Also, for everyone who is
saying they got into gold by melting down old jewelry. Did you
worry about the content? 

That’s good advise IF you can get old pieces at bargain prices
(unlikely, but possible), and just for starting out. We use only
24kt, and always the same alloys. I know what I’ve got, plus I can
reach in my can and pull out a wire and know that it will all be the
same color, all the time…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#20

Warm thanks to everyone who responded so generously to my gold
query. So much excellent advice and so many new interesting questions
posted. More great stuff to look forward to!!!

Cyndy