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Mystery metal


#1

I make ear wires from sterling wire. Recently I used some as the
inlay round wire in a half round wire ring I twisted to make it
spiral and then twisted the round into the spiral etc. This is a very
old design and I have made hundreds. The round wire did not oxidise
when annealing and softened very little. It looks like sterling,
solders like sterling, polishes like sterling. The wire came from a
reputable supplier could they have sent me Argentium? I will send
some to get XRFed. Any Ideas what this alloy is? Also the stock of
this I made into ear wires hardly tarnishes at all. Had no complaints
about allergic reactions from customers.

On another point genuine Alexandrites are coming onto the market in
small quantities. Decades ago they were very rare and very very
expensive $15000 for a quarter carat stone. Today $2000 a carat. Are
the Russians releasing from a stockpile or have more been found.
These are the real stones green to red under candle light, however,
there are a lot of colour change CZ stones amethyst in colour being
sold as the real thing. I have been show a number of these over the
years by people who invested in them. I don’t tell them what they
really have, I don’t wont to break their hearts. Being told your very
expensive stone is only worth a few dollars is not a reaction I wont
to deal with. What do you high end jewellers say to customers, when
customers show you a stone that is not what it is supposed to be?

TTFN
Richard


#2

Sounds like you have one of the age hardening sterling alloys that
have anything between 1 and 5 % of aluminium replacing the copper.

Good stuff


#3

Hi Richard, I am not a high end jeweller, however, when someone
shows me something - like a gemstone - my reaction is based on why
they are showing it to me. I can appreciate it, I can hold it up to
the light. I can smile and say it is beautiful. That is one kind of
valuation - beauty. If I were a qualified appraiser, and if they were
showing it to me to be appraised, then I would have to disappoint
them with the news that they have a real CZ and not a real
alexandrite gem. They are looking then for a monetary valuation. We
all make mistakes (sometimes, even appraisers.)

Barbara on a 94F day on the Chilly Beach on PEI


#4

What do we tell customers when they bring in a stone that’s not what
they believe?

The truth. Very gently.

Jo Haemer
Www.timothywgreen.com


#5

Richard,

My understanding is that both United precious Metals and Stuller
have gone ahead and replaced the copper alloy in "traditional"
sterling with United’s S57NA alloy. I believe their sheet and wire
stock is now alloyed with the S57NA instead of copper.

My students and I have been using this fantastic alloy for most all
our sterling work since I taught with UCSD and now with my own studio
here in Hillcrest. Frankly, I would never go back to traditional
copper alloyed sterling, and NO, it is not Argentium.

Did you buy your “mystery” silver sire from either United or
Stuller?

Jay Whaley


#6

Hi Jay,

My understanding is that both United precious Metals and Stuller
have gone ahead and replaced the copper alloy in "traditional"
sterling with United's S57NA alloy. I believe their sheet and wire
stock is now alloyed with the S57NA instead of copper. 

I can’t find any alloy specs for S57NA, is it similar to SE-Cu (57)?

Regards Charles A.


#7

This day and age, I think honesty should always be the best policy,
and if we have the ability to tell the difference, we should notify
the poor buyer, because they may be able to go back to the original
seller and recover their original investment. If we discuss this
before looking at a stone, it should be shop policy.

Blessings pat


#8
The wire came from a reputable supplier could they have sent me
Argentium? 

I don’t have any idea what metal it might be. I would ask them. If
they can’t tell you, don’t buy from them again.

I don't wont to break their hearts. Being told your very expensive
stone is only worth a few dollars is not a reaction I wont to deal
with. What do you high end jewellers say to customers, when
customers show you a stone that is not what it is supposed to be? 

I don’t know that I would call myself a “high end jeweller”, but I
ask them to tell me the story. Every piece of jewelry has a story,
and the story can sometimes be more valuable than the jewelry itself.
A short investment of your attentive listening time will tell you
everything you need to know about how you might best handle the
situation. If it’s something they found at a garage sale a couple
weeks ago, they probably already know or suspect it’s not genuine
(and assuming you know and can prove for a fact that it isn’t), all
you have to do is gently reaffirm their doubt. If you can honestly
say so, tell them they got a nice looking piece for a decent price,
so enjoy it (it’s a little more gentle than saying “you got what you
paid for”). If you can’t say at least that or something equally nice,
just do like Mom used to say and “don’t say anything.”

In any case, tell them what it isn’t, not what it is. Naming a
simulant is too involved and fraught with risk if you don’t do real
testing first. If they want or need anything more definitive or
anything on paper concerning the ID or value, we recommend they pay
for the time for us to do proper testing for a formal appraisal.

If the story is that it’s from Grandma’s personal treasures and
everyone knows that Gramma would never have owned anything fake, and
they want to reset it in a new mounting, you have a different set of
circumstances. In this case, you better know exactly what you are
talking about before you say a word about what it is or isn’t. If you
tell them it’s not genuine and it turns out that it is, or if it
turns out to be something other than what you told them (like it’s
really a color change garnet instead of the more common synthetic
corundum you told them it was or the alexandrite they thought it
was), you look like an idiot, and if money changes hands, possibly
worse.

If you take the other path and tell them it’s something special,
build something cool for it and it turns out to be a coated white
topaz or a garnet triplet, you could also have some serious
’splainin’ to do.

Seriously folks, gem ID and valuation is a very complex subject and
shouldn’t be taken lightly by anyone that considers themselves or
tells others that they are a jewelry professional. If you are a GG
(Graduate Gemologist) or equivalent you already know how to ID it. If
you are not, don’t pretend you are. Sometimes the most professional
thing to do is admit you don’t know what it is, but you know someone
that does know how to identify it and has the equipment to do it
correctly.

Even if you do know exactly what something is, you should still be
careful when handling any situation in which something is not what it
is purported to be, or if it is of a very low monetary value. Even
armed with all of the metallurgical and gemological facts of the
piece, if you don’t have the full story, you might still step in it
good.

Early in my retail career, a lady brought in a very cheap 10K
serpentine chain and heart pendant. It had broken (surprise,
surprise) and she wanted to get it fixed. I told her that it wasn’t
worth messing with, for the same money she should go get a new one.
Her eyes began to well up and I could immediately tell I had done
something wrong. I asked her to tell me about the chain. She told me
her 12 year old son had saved up and given it to her for Mother’s Day
a few months ago and shortly thereafter, it broke. She had intended
to get it fixed, but never got around to it. Then a few weeks later,
her son was killed by a drunk driver. The store he bought it from
offered to replace it, but couldn’t repair it. They referred her to
me. They told her I would take care of her. Of course I did take care
of it, but didn’t I feel like a butthead for the rest of the day.

Knowing what something is and what it’s worth is only part of the
story. Get the whole story before you make a fool of yourself like I
did.

Dave Phelps


#9

Thanx for your posts on the mystery metal I will post what the XRF
is. Played with some more of it today and I think it is extra hard
drawn fine silver. Whatever it is it is great.

Richard


#10

Hello,

specs of S57NA can easely be found if you take a look at UPM
homepage. http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep7zkd

Have fun and enjoy
Pedro


#11
Sounds like you have one of the age hardening sterling alloys that
have anything between 1 and 5 % of aluminium replacing the copper. 

With that amount of aluminium in a sterling alloy you would find it
very difficult to solder using standard jewellery fluxes.

Peter


#12

United makes a number of oxidation resistant sterling silver alloys
that stay white on heating and white in color when investment cast.

Our most popular sterling silver is our Sterlium Plus alloy, it is
available in wire, sheet and casting grain. This product is also
available as a master alloy S57NA for those wishing to use their own
fine silver. The Sterium Plus sterling silver is available from
United and Stuller Inc.

Basically, part of the usual 7.5% copper is replaced by zinc,indium
and other metals in these alloys. This provides better tarnish
resistance and firescale resistance.

Regards,

Jim Sivertsen
United Technical Dept.


#13

Charles,

I have no idea at all. I would call United, and talk with their tech
guy, Jim Sivertsen. He’s extremely knowledgeable about not only
United’s alloys, but many others manufactured around the world.

Jay Whaley


#14

It’s okay Jay,

For some reason my brain went “copper” instead of luna :smiley:

Regards Charles A.


#15

Hi all.

What is S57NA that Stuller has used to replace copper with, in their
sterling silver?

If it is not copper, then is their sterling not sterling?
Is it “SterlingLite” or “SterlingSomething” or “SterlingUsedToBe”?

Now, I’ve always had a good working relationship with Stuller. No
bones to pick there.

However, I am concerned that it will not behave in the same manner
as I have come to expect from sterling.

Recently, I put a patina on a piece of jewelry on which I had used a
sterling finding from Stuller. The bezel, from Stuller, in sterling,
did not patina.

Now in metals, there are always going to be things that one does not
understand. Some little something happens and then you have to play
detective and figure out what happened and why. So, mostly I just go
with the flow and try to figure out what has happened and why and
then carry on.

But, I would really like to have an informed consent form so that I
can say, “Hey, yes, I understand that something that I have known
and worked in for 20 years or so, is not what it used to be.” If I’m
going to spend money & my time with your product, that I expect it
to perform in a certain way, then let me know that the rules have
changed.

Now, before I get hate emails, I do not have an issue with companies
making decisions about their business practices. Their company,
their rules.

And so, it just may be that the dang finding, was not make of this
S57NA and it was my own stupidity, so be it. But, I really, really,
really, don’t need any more help in that area.

I have also noticed that when I melted some sterling to pour into a
cuttle bone mold, that the metal, which I know, was all sterling,
(no solder, no mystery metals, no nothing else) did not have a
smooth appearance. Had little spikes on it like copper has when you
melt a blog of copper down. Metal probably came from Stuller, but
don’t know for sure, so they get a pass on that one.

There again, I need no help in being stupid, just let me know the
rules of the game, and I’ll try to apply them. And if anyone knows
why my sterling had little spikes on it, please let me know. Thanks.

Mystery metal


#16
 specs of S57NA can easely be found if you take a look at UPM
 homepage. http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep7zkd

Thanks for that Pedro, I was looking at copper alloys. CIA


#17

Hello Monnda,

What is S57NA that Stuller has used to replace copper with, in
their sterling silver?" 

This alloy is made by the people of UPM. An older version was alloy
S88 being softer then S57NA. The composition exist of a list of metals
used to have an alloy without the risk of firestain and better
anti-tarnisch property’s. If you like to have more
contact the people from UPM by phone or use their excellent online
chat modus. They are very helpful and knowledgable.

If it is not copper, then is their sterling not sterling? Is it
"SterlingLite" or "SterlingSomething" or "SterlingUsedToBe"? 

One can melt strawberrie’s, onions, chocolate or whatever in an
silver alloy, it doesn’t matter. The point is that you have to have
92.5 percent silver in that specific alloy and that’s all. Respect
that value and you’re fine in using the stamp.925

Have fun and enjoy
Pedro


#18
What is S57NA that Stuller has used to replace copper with, in
their sterling silver? 

Stuller doesn’t make this, they carry it. The alloy is from United
Precious Metals. It’s described as unltra white, patented de-ox,
tarnish and fire scale resistant. They don’t tell you, on the web
site, what the 7.5 percent alloy mixed with the 925 silver is
(though they might, on the phone)

As to what to call it? Call it sterling silver. Or de-ox sterling
silver. Sterling silver, as a metal definition, only specifies the
silver content as 925/1000. The definition of “Sterling” does not
require that the alloying metal be copper. The distinction to be made
is that this alloy, along with the range of various other de-ox
sterling silver alloys, addresses the problems of fire scale, fire
stain, tarnishing, as well as certain problems encountered in
casting “standard” sterling silver. If you have some, from Stuller or
United, you can download a fact sheet describing recommended
practices from the United web site, or I’d imagine Stuller could get
it for you too. The United web site wants a customer number to sign
in with, in order to access that sheet, but I’d bet that over the
phone, they’d give it to you without that.

Peter Rowe


#19

Monda,

If it is not copper, then is their sterling not sterling? Is it
"SterlingLite" or "SterlingSomething" or "SterlingUsedToBe"? 

As long as the metal contains .925 silver and .075 alloy it is
sterling. What makes up the.075 of alloy is irrelevant.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan


#20
What is S57NA that Stuller has used to replace copper with, in
their sterling silver? 

The regulations on Sterling Silver state that it must contain 92.5%
Silver. There is no specification on the 7.5% of other metals.
Traditionally it has made with 7.5% Copper. The Sterlium Plus
available at Stuller and United PMR Inc contain 92.5% Silver, it is
Sterling Silver and may legally stamped Sterling Silver or 925
Silver. The S57NA master alloy when mixed with 92.5% Silver can also
legally be stamped Sterling Silver or 925 Silver.

The S57NA contains a smaller amount of copper along with zinc,
indium and other metals with a silicon deoxidizer. The reduction in
copper content greatly improves the fire scale resistance and tarnish
resistance. Sterlium Plus & Sterling Silver made with the S57NA will
not blacken well in liver of sulfur solutions due to the reduced
available copper content and zinc content. The casting temperatures
on the Sterlium Plus will be higher than traditional Sterling Silver
and will come out of the investment white, not black.

United has been making these Sterling Silver alloys and master alloys
for high production manufacturing for about 22 years with excellent
results. Our Sterling Silver alloys do not contain Cadmium,
Beryllium, Nickel, Antimony or any toxic metals.

A number of other manufacturers have made reduced copper content
Sterling Silver alloys which provide good fire scale and tarnish
resistance. There are many people that prefer traditional Sterling
Silver (7.5% Copper) for their work as it is the alloy they are
comfortable with. I respect that.

Regards,
Jim Sivertsen
United Technical Dept.