What to do? I've already told my galleries that I'm raising my
prices (not much, because most of my work's value is in design and
It sounds as though you may not be giving enough weight to the cost
of materials in your pricing structure. The cost of materials is the
ablsolute first thing to cover when calculating price! Double your
material cost (at least) for each piece at wholesale, and you won't
have to worry about the rising cost of metals. Especially if you are
using silver, where the material cost may not be much (unless your
pieces weigh ounces each).
I've bought an igot mold, and am not thrilled with refining my
scrap..but you gotta do what ya gotta do I guess
Are you refining, or recycling? Big distinction to consider. By
recycling, ie: remelting and repouring ingots, you will encounter a
degradation of the metal quality over time. You could get perhaps a
couple useful repours of metal before there was too much
contamination and loss of alloying components. You could add fresh
material to each melt to keep it usable, but at that point you are
essentially buying new metal anyway. Plus, do you really want to
spend your time rolling/drawing metal, when you can just order the
correct size and shape you need? And if you do roll/draw, are you
factoring the time/cost into your pieces? Which, as you stated
earlier, is more heavily weighted in your pricing than the metal cost
you are trying to avoid.
However, by refining, you can actually trade your metal in for new,
minus a very few dollars. Find a reliable, trustworthy refiner (I've
used United Precious Metals in Alden, NY for 15+ years, and have
always been satisfied with the results....no affiliation, just a
happy customer), and send in your metal to actually be refined. A
refiner will send you a check for the value of your metals, or issue
you a credit for the same amount to be used for purchasing new
metals. This is the road I travel, as well as most any professional
metalsmith I know. Yes, you will initially have to purchase a little
more metal as you build a pile of scrap to refine, but once you get
over the hump, you will always have that same amount of scrap
available to you, whether it's cashed out or in a pile in your safe.
And these days, that scrap is rising in value as it sits around,
further increasing the benefit of this approach.
Last thing to do would be to buy the equipment to actually refine
the metal yourself. Then you could re-alloy it, then pour ingots,
etc..... Sounds like way too much work!