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Melting Platinum Cartier settings


I have a customer that has two Cartier engagement rings, one from
1937 and another from 1967. She would like me to melt down the
platinum and use the metal to make her wedding band. I haven’t found
out what the stamps inside say yet, but I was wondering if any
orchidian would know what type of alloy was used for these rings.

The wedding band will incorporate a filigree center with two wire
bands on the ouside, fabricated, so I could melt and roll the two
seperately if neccessary, then combine them by soldering. Other

Is there anybody in Philadelphia that would’t mind having a look at
the stamps in these rings for me?

Also, would it be a mistake to melt down these rings. Do these rings
have a value greater than the intrinsic value of the metal. Thanks
for any and all expertise that can be offered.

Natasha Wozniak

Also, would it be a mistake to melt down these rings. Do these
rings have a value greater than the intrinsic value of the metal. 

Quite possibly. I’d take them to a real appraiser and get a real
written report. Get a referral from International Society of
Appraiser or American Society of Appraisers.

Your only choice for a “free” appraisal is an auction estimate if
the customer takes them to an auction house to sell there. If you
have an auction house near you.

If you are right, and your customer gets more money for her rings,
she will thank you. And perhaps you can save a a bit of jewelry


Hi, Natasha.

would it be a mistake to melt down these rings. Do these rings 

Up until very recently there were only two kinds of platinum used in
jewelry - 10% iridium 90% platinum, and occasionally “pure” platinum.
Cartier used 90/10 fairly exclusively, I believe. If you are melting
it, fine platinum melts at a lower temp. than 90/10. There’s not a
lot of stuff made with fine platinum, but you’ll find it now and
then. I don’t remember the stamps Cartier uses, but I do know that
they have two arenas - one is the Cartier line, and the other is what
they call “for export”, which is to say their bread and butter line.
This comes from me going to Cartier with a piece of theirs once. The
High Cartier line is something else again - the “for export” line is
more along the lines of Tiffany’s or something - cool but not so
cool. As far as resale goes, condition is everything. If the rings
are worn out, they’re worn out, regardless of the stamp inside. If
you have a plain wedding band with a Cartier stamp, it is worth a
premium but not $1000’s. The question to me is really, “Sure it’s
Cartier, but is it special?” A solitaire with a stamp is something,
but a fine deco design is something else again. Finally, if she’s
just a metal recycler, then you COULD keep the rings and trade her
new metal - but then how and when are you going to sell them
yourself? If she wants them included into the new ring for
sentimental reasons, then it’s your obligation to do that, if they
end up being melted.

I may have been blinded by the dates 1937 and 1967, and the name
CARTIER… If these are genuine, do not do anything - even clean
them! - until you have had them apprised. Any auction house with a
jewelry dept would probably be interested in taking a look.
Christies, Sothebys, Skinners, I’m sure there’s plenty of qualified
places in Philly - don’t be intimidated by the big names, the people
there are usually quite friendly and willing to be helpful. (After
all, if you have the genuine article, and choose to sell it, they
stand to make a tidy commission.) If your client doesn’t mind parting
with these pieces, she’d do much better to sell them at auction and
use the money to have you make her something original in platinum.
Even at today’s prices! Just my two cents,



In this kind of situation you basically have two extremes. In one
end the piece can be so used and abused that even if stamped Cartier
its value is just the material. On the other hand if the piece is
still in decent shape it can be worth something more. There is no
estate jewellery stores in your city? Maybe thay can have a better
idea. In Milano there are a few estate jewellers that sell amazing
pieces from the 20-50ties, it is quite a business in Italy, often
people realizing that the quality of that craftmanship is long time
gone and do not care investing in a second hand piece. One problem
can have though is if your costumer want to save the stones, then
usually you have to damage the piece to unset them and your piece
will be a wreck. Another problem is that you have to have a collector
or a market for the estate piece, not so obvious sometime. One of the
most painful things I ever did was to take apart a Bulgari three
diamonds ring in white gold. Seeing all the detail and attention
going into dust in my drower…

Good luck

I would research the cartier settings. If you have a customer’s1930’s
deco basket type engagement ring that is marked Pt/IR then its
probably their better line. If it is simply stamped Cartier it’s
probably their production line. Calling Cartier USA sales may get you
some but write down what you can see through a 10x loupe
and be specific about the setting.If you have access to their
catalogue indices look it up to have the specific design number ready
for the customer service person. The 1967 ring is also worthy of

Most likey is that neither is worth more than about two thousand
each in great condition, unless they are from Cartier’s design line
and/or specially ordered with stones that are different than others
in the line(s).

There are two approaches heRe: ask if the customer has sentimental
attchment to the ring and is that the reason for melting them down:
to incorporate that particular metal into a new ring or set? If so
you must respect their wishes, no matter the value - although you may
want to mention to them the implications of destroying the Cartier
mark, and offer to trade weight for weight the platinum and
alloy/plating used in fabrication since the new design will not bear
the Cartier mark anyway. If their intent is simply to reuse the metal
regardless of the makers mark, then it seems within ethics to use the
same amount of the same metal for the new ring If YOU want to
conserve the Cartier makers mark. When someone sends metal to a
refiner they will not likely get the same metal they sent in returned
to them in stock that is fabricated from x metal. It follows then
that if its simply the recycling of the platinum then it is
acceptable to fabricate in the same dwt. of the same metal. You may
want to ask the customer though, if they mind your conserving the
settings just to be upfront about your " respect" for the Cartier
line.However, to reset the original pieces and resell as an original
Cartier raies its own set of ethical questions. If you personally
want to collect them, and they are in good enough condition to make
it worthwhile- without resale, then there is no ethical question to
be raised. It is then a simple trade…


Thank you for the responses.

I told the customer that she should send me the settings. She
mentioned melting down the rings many months ago and I tentatively
agreed. Indeed, she had sentimantal reasons for wanting to
incorporate her mother’s and grandmother’s rings into her own
wedding band. It was only the other night that she mentioned that
they were Cartier in her e-mail.

I live in NYC, so no problem finding the appropriate experts. I
might call Cartier and see if they will look at them for me.

The ring I am making will most likely only contain about $1200 worth
of platinum, so even if they are worth $2000 each, that is a
significant difference.

Now with your opinions behind me, I can give her better reasons to
preserve the rings, if they are in an appropriate condition, and
yes, preserve some jewelry history.

Best to you all,
Natasha Wozniak

If you are going to melt and reform the platinum, its a good idea to
inspect the mountings very carefully for any previous repair. A
little bit of solder in the melt (and its a safe bet there is at
least some solder) could cause you grief when you get to the
finishing stage.

Hi Natasha

This might be a bit late not sure how old this is but heres my
experience anyway. When melting 2 slightly different alloys of the
same metal or even differnet metals together it can be difficult to
predict the outcome. One thing you can do to increase the chances of
success is draw the metal out to the dimesions you want instead of
rolling it through a rolling mill. I have found that any flaws in
the metal grow rapidly when rolled but when drawn through draw plates
they dont seem to so much. James Binnion is the expert on metalergy
though maybe he will agree. To make the most of the metal you have
you can solder an inch or so of wire of simliar hardness to the
platinum so there is less wastage. The extra metal is used to grip it
with draw tongs so you dont waste the platinum on the little tapered
bit at the end. You can buy D shape draw plates if making a D shape
wedder any other shape depending on what shape you want.

Phil W