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Platinum silver: a great alloy


#1

Hi all, I think I’ve written about this before, but have reason to
bring it up again. There is a small company, ABI, in Carson, CA that
holds a patent on a relatively new alloy they invented: Platinum
Silver. I called to reorder some sheet and learned, to my dismay,
that they plan to discontinue manufacturing sheet and wire and go
along with only casting grain. The reason is that it isn’t moving
fast enough for their small company. The only reason I can see for
this is that no one seems to have heard of it! I am hoping that one
of the larger metals companies ( David Fell, Inc is my main supplier)
will start to carry this product. Maybe if some of you guys try it,
express interest or support for it, this great product can get some
legs.

What’s so great about Platinum Silver? It is a truly silver white
metal, unlike the white golds which are not truly white. It’s
workability seems to me to be like sterling; soft enough to work
easily. It’s easily engraved. It requires less polishing than
sterling because it s develop far less fire scale. It also doesn’t
tarnish like sterling does. Compared to white gold? No
contest…White gold is so brittle feeling to work with. Personally,
I only use it if necessary as I always feel I’m fighting the white
gold rather than working in collaboration with it. White gold also
doesn’t give as great a color contrast with other golds because of
the inherent warmth in it’s color. Compared to Argentium? Well, I’d
say all the discussion in this community about how to work with it
tells the story; Argentium required getting used to for some of you.
I’ve noticed that it can crumble if over heated.

Costs? It’s significantly more expensive than sterling, much less
than 14kt gold. For pieces that are time/value intensive I think it’s
a very good choice for a white metal. Some customers don’t like to
wear silver because it tarnishes, or because they (foolishly) don’t
respect this time honored metal. This alloy offers the cache’ of
Platinum, which is generally highly regarded.

I think it would be a great metal for many of you who create great
work that would pay you better if it weren’t “just” silver. Most
jewelry buyers expect silver jewelry to be somewhat inexpensive. This
offers a stepping stone to those who want to move towards the gold/
luxury metals without as big an investment. For those who work in
silver and would like to avoid tarnish issues, this will help. For
those who work in mixed metals, this one is very white, workable.

Disclaimer: The only reason I’m pushing this alloy so hard is that I
want to continue to have it available to me. ( and I think you might
like it). I have no connection to ABI (or David Fell, Inc). they
don’t know I’m writing to the Forum; they have offered me no
compensation in any form nor will I ask for anything. I just REALLY
like this metal!

Marianne Hunter
www.hunter-studios.com


#2

What’s the ratio of platinum to silver? I’ve heard of a 10/90 that
was very nice but haven’t used it.


#3

Hi Marrianne,

I wish the platinum silver alloy was available in the UK because I
would definitely try it if it was. I can’t find it anywhere. I hope
it becomes more widely available again so that you can continue to
use it and so that more of us can try it. I’d love to try Argentium
too but can’t get that over here in the UK. Shipping costs from
America and import duty, etc make it prohibitive.

As an aside (and please forgive me for piggy-backing on your thread
Marrianne), are there any metal artists in the UK who can recommend
any interesting alloys apart from sterling, and the usual gold and
platinum alloys? Do we have a viable and readily available
alternative to sterling silver? And if anyone has used Cookson’s
Brilliante silver, are your experiences positive, negative or
neutral?

Thanks.

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk


#4
I just REALLY like this metal! 

It sounds as though it would be a good choice for my
titanium-with-overlay work, but then you get into problems like no
matching findings, chains, tubing, etc, and I’d have to invest in a
better rolling mill and take Jay Whaley’s class so I could roll the
stock I need because I couldn’t buy, oh, 1.5mm x 3mm strip.

This is why it is so hard for a new alloy to get traction.

Can you etch it?

Noel


#5
Saw your email wanted to know do you use this for enameling and
does it work well. You also did not give an approx cost of this
metal. 

HI Leslie, I do 98% of my enamels on copper. I set the enamel panels
just as I do stones. I just bought a 3.5 x 12" x 20 ga and I think
it was between 300-400$ (there wasn’t an invoice!) This is FAR less
than I would have paid for gold. I would have preferred 22 or 24 ga
but they didn’t’ have it. My rolling mill has been in storage 5
hours away so I will have to find a way to roll it out locally. Maybe
the local art center.

I will give enameling on this alloy a try using some scrap and reply
on orchid and to the Enamelist Society for that community, too.
Thanks for the idea.

Marianne
Marianne Hunter
http://www.hunter-studios.com


#6

A peek into the X Files on new Platinum Sterling


#7

Hi Marianne,

I have been experimenting with platinum silver for about a year now.

I made myself a watch casing and watch strap.The watch casing is
normal anti/ox silver mixed in a sterling 7.5% solution. The top half
of the links of the strap are mixed with with platinum also in a 7.5%
solution and the bottom half of the links are mixed with 10% solution
of platinum and fine silver. I have worn this for about 11 months
now.

I am going to publish the results with photo’s on my blog soon, but
I do agree with you. The plat/silver solution does have significantly
less tarnishing than the anti/ox alloy.

However, the platinum solution does tarnish eventually.

I live on an island where there is a active volcano about 100miles
away. (Monserratt) which spews out some 200 tons of sulphur-dioxide
per day.There have been ash falls on St Maarten before, so I assume
the sulphur dioxide does get here too, from time to time. My silver
stock is a nightmare to keep clean but I must say that the plat
alloy is the best alloy I have tried so far. It works very nicely,
but it is a bit soft for my liking.

I mix my own and after all is said and done my base cost is about
$6/gram. (The 7.5% solution.)

This is significantly higher than the other silver alloys on the
market today and the main reason, I suspect, that this alloy will
struggle to gain any popularity.

Cheers, Hans Meevis
http://www.meevis.com


#8

Hi Marianne

I’m with you. This Pt Silver sounds very attractive. I hope sheet and
wire continues to be available. I would prefer to engrave on sheet
rather than cast and engrave

I’m planning on doing some new work in silver and I would prefer Pt
Silver given what you say of its qualities. Those of us who deal
directly with customers can explain the advantages

The only thing missing is the price of sheet and wire and the
composition of the alloy.

ABI, it seems to me, is being short- sighted; it takes time to get
things started. Maybe they, ABI, could post on Orchid about the
composition and their prices.

I’m ready to place my order.

KPK


#9
I will give enamelling on this alloy a try using some scrap and
reply on orchid and to the Enamelist Society for that community,
too. Thanks for the idea. 

Although my experiments are only with a mixture of pure platinum and
fine silver, and no other exotic metals added, I have found it to
enamel very well.

A picture of a fast- made experimental pendant using Thompson medium
expansion enamels can be found at my blog

But at the end of the day it all comes down to what James Binnion
said on the subject of tarnishing silver - all silver tarnishes
eventually, period.

I make a lot of multi-metal work and tarnishing silver is a big
problem because the repolishing of the silver causes the other
metal’s surfaces to be harmed. The only permanent solution I have
found is to first plate the piece with paladium ( which can be plated
onto silver with no harm to the plating solution) and then with
rhodium over the paladium plating.

This, however in not totally satisfactory, because the colour is not
silver’s warm colour, and should the piece have to be altered in
anyway ( like sizing a ring, say) the attendant problems of heating a
plated object surface.

One test I am still wanting to do is see if the Plat/silver solution
will harm the rhodium solution, since I have been told that the base
metals in sterling silver (copper,zinc) ruin the rhodium plating
solution.Since there are no base metals in Plat/silver, I wonder is
the plating solution will retain its integrity.

Cheers Hans Meevis
http://www.meevis.com


#10

I’ve done some work with this alloy, and have a mixed opinion of it.

I do like the color, quite a lot! I also really like the price
point. It works beautifully, too, without anything like the need for
annealing that other sterling alloys have.

But… I’ve had some serious issues with porosity in the wire stock.
Both thick and thin wires seemed to have porosity issues that were
exposed by manipulation and/or hand polishing. The thin stuff broke,
and the heavier stuff developed porosity holes when I hand-polished
it.

I did have some firescale issues with the heavy stock I used, though
it polished off pretty readily.

I also am not able to wait 2 months or more between placing an order
and receiving the goods when I have a commission involved, and we
were not able to get faster turn-around.

I think this alloy has a lot of promise! I’d love to be able to
suggest it for the people who want white metal rings. However, I
would need to have stock without porosity issues, AND- possibly even
more important- be able to get it promptly. I’m hoping that ABI or
someone will be able to do these things.

Amanda Fisher
http://www.afmetalsmith.com


#11

Thanks Amanda for adding more info.

Your issues give me pause. I would like to use this material; but if
they "don’t have their act together’ it’s a problem. My work is my
livelihood so suppliers have to be reliable.

Please if any others have experience with this material and this
company please share.

KPK


#12

The correct picture of a fast- made experimental pendant using
Thompson medium expansion enamels: