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Platinum


#1

Hiya,
I have recently been asked to do some platinum casting for a
friend of mine. This will be a first for me, so I was looking
for a few pointers. Best to learn from the experiance of others!
I would like to know if anyone can tell me of any major
diffrences between casting gold alloys versus platinum. ( appart
from temp of course ). Also I need to know of a good source for
platinum casting grain, findings and wire if possible. I am
already set up for oxy/hydrogen. I would be gratefull for any
advice on this matter.

            Thanks,
                Happy Casting

                            Tom V.

,’| .-’’``-……–’;
/, ‘. …-’ , ,–…--’’’
< \ .--''' /| Tom Vanderputten
`-,;’ ; ; ; tvander@idi.oclc.org
__…–’’ __…–
…’ .;.’ Systems Development
(,
_…----’’’ (,…–’’ Unix hacker at Large
vi is my shepherd; i shall not font.

“Fourty Two! Is that all you’ve got to show for
seven and a half million years’ work?”


#2

My best advice is have it done for you! Platina Casting Services
(1-800-401-7257) is my favorite, but many dental laboratories
cast platinum and they are local to you.

Do you have a machine designed for casting platinum? I know of
at least one craftsman that casts platinum on his standard
casting machine. He put a super heavy spring in it to give the
necessary acceleration.

You need to get the platinum HOT!!! I mean VERY HOT! You can’t
oxidize platinum, so try using a oxidizing flame, about 5 lbs of
hydrogen and 40 lbs of oxygen, that will give you the heat
necessary. Other casters tell me they use 60 lbs each of O2 and
H2, now that’s a big flame. My favorite is induction, just wish I
had my own!

You didn’t say what kind of shapes you’re casting, so I’ll give
some general advice. Use multiple sprues. Platinum solidifies
very quickly and you need to get a complete fill while the
platinum is fully fluid.You can get a great looking casting that
breaks into pieces with one hit from a hammer. A good casting
will have a shiny, albeit rough texture, the same sort of look
you get from a freshly melted piece, I guess the word is FUSED.
Platinum is funny stuff, you can get a perfect casting that is
NOT fused. An unfused casting is like compacted sand. It polishes
to a high finish, and sometimes can be worn for years, then fall
into pieces while being sized.

It’s been a number of years since I did my own plat casting, so
I don’t know what investments are recommended now.

Good luck, and wear dark glasses! :slight_smile:

Jeffrey Everett

Hiya,
I have recently been asked to do some platinum casting for a
friend of mine. This will be a first for me, so I was looking
for a few pointers. Best to learn from the experiance of
others!
I would like to know if anyone can tell me of any major
diffrences between casting gold alloys versus platinum. ( appart
from temp of course ). Also I need to know of a good source for
platinum casting grain, findings and wire if possible. I am
already set up for oxy/hydrogen. I would be gratefull for any
advice on this matter.

         Jeffrey Everett, jewelry craftsman

Handmade 18K, 22K, and platinum gemstone jewelry.
Diamond setting, rubber/metal molds, casting, lapidary
Die and mold engraving, plastic patterns for casting.
Cad jewelry design, cad/cam milling scroll filigree…
P O Box 2057 Fairfield IA 52556 515-469-6250


#3

Hi, Gang,

I was just looking over the packet I received from JA regarding their
bench certification program and I was a little dismayed to discover that
out of the four levels of certification, all but entry level require
working with platinum. Is working with platinum that common? I haven’t
tried it yet because of the contamination concerns. I was waiting until I
could afford another work station and set of tools. Is this really
necessary, or can you get away with using the same bench and tools for
silver, gold and platinum? I know it is common to use white gold solder for
retipping platinum, but I assume that any other tasks are done using
platinum only, unless there was a concern about damaging stones you could
not remove.

I’m curious, how many of you lurking out there work in platinum?

Has anyone applied for or beocome JA bench certified?

Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

Sharon Ziemek


#4

It seems to be getting a lot more common. I have at least 3 platinum
rings to build before Saturday. I use all the same tools for platinum and
gold. I just try to keep my work clean as I go. Personally, I think that
putting gold prongs on a platinum ring is an all too common form of
contamination.


#5

Sharon A seperate work station for platinum is not necessary. Contamination
is highly overated. Some basic rules are Use an inert material for your
solder pick such as titanium or niobium. Do not ball up the solder if you
are using any. Just place the fresh solder chip directly on the area to be
joined or re tipped. Do not use flux it will burn away long before the
soldering temprature is reached. The contamination comes from dirty solder
pics and balling up your solder on a nasty solder pad. Always use at least

5 welding lenses to prevent eye damage and if at all possible fuse the

material instead of using solder. In fact you can roll out a small piece of
platinum and snip off small pieces to use instead of solder.

Platinum will become more and more a part of jewelry in the comming years
as it’s popularity continues to increase. It has been a large part of the
European market for years, especially in Japan. RED


#6

Sharon A seperate work station for platinum is not necessary. Contamination
is highly overated. Some basic rules are …

Thank you, Red. I should have known that the any written word on the
subject was not referring to the real world. I had hoped to have a chance
to take a course with GIA on working with platinum since I am one of those
people who does much better after seeing something done by someone else,
but I couldn’t get to Tucson this year, and they seem to only do that
workshop at that show. I can remember when I was deathly afraid of using
the torch, and didn’t even have hard solder on my bench. Now I’m always
running out of hard and I love soldering. I guess this will happen with
platinum also. I just need to give it a try, and practice, practice,
practice… At least I won’t melt platinum the way I melted gold when I was
learning.

Enjoy your weekend (assuming you have days off).

Sharon Ziemek
GoldStones, Inc.


#7

We regularly work in platinum making 2-3 custom pcs. per month. There is
no reason to have a separate work station, your big contamination fear is
when soldering. You are working with gates-of-hell temperatures and your
tweezers or soldering pick will fuse and contaminate if too close to the
area your soldering. A couple of quick tips;

  1. cast your peice if possible, try to avoid sizing by making wax the
    correct size. If you don’t cast platinum sent wax to Quality Casting in NY,
    they do a nice job.

  2. If sizing use a seamless solder, these are solders that flow at around
    1700 degrees. You will have fewer seams showing.

  3. Never solder near stones even diamonds, you will burn them.

  4. Prepolish your peices before assembly, will really save time. Polishing
    requires using the finest emery, followed by very aggresive tripoli (emery
    cake) then gray star and finally green rouge.

  5. Be sure to charge enough, its very easy to miscalculate your cost. This
    stuff aint cheap.

  6. Be sure to charge enough! Just wanted to make that clear.

Mark P.


#8
I'm curious, how many of you lurking out there work in platinum?  

I do quite a lot in platinum, and I prefer to have it cast rather than
fabricate it. Platinum solder is a mixture of palladium and silver and can
easily contaminate the platinum, especially if heated to much and if too
much is used. When making platinum joins, it is best to make some kind of
mechanical junction (prong wires soldered into holes, prongs tightly
fitted into notches etc) and then use a tiny amount of solder. It is also
good to fuse whenever possible. Whenever I can, I make up the model in
silver and mold it for casting. Some pieces require fabrication because of
the inbetween polishing steps.

Regarding time estimates, I generally triple the time I figure to make a
piece in gold. Casting however, can be considerably faster. I just did a
modern style gent’s ring (with 1/2 ct diamond set in a partial bezel) in a
total of 4 hours in 95 cobalt plat. I really like the cobalt plat, it
casts better, and is easier to work with. It has a very slight bluish
color, but most people won’t even see it. There is now a 95 irid plat, and
I am looking forward to trying it.

Has anyone applied for or beocome JA bench certified?

I looked into the masters cert, but got scared away when they told me the
amount of time they expect the pieces to be made in… I could probably
fabricate the three stone plat ring in the required 8 hours, but the pave’
set dome-top square hinged silver box seemed very difficult to make in 8
hours. I may still go for the senior bench technician cert though, it
sounds much mroe do-able. I was told they grade on over 1000 seperate
points, whew…

Jeffrey Everett


#9

Sharon Thanks for the wonderful reply. Also a fantastic source of info on
platinum is the Platinum Guild International. I do not have the number at
the moment but I will look for it. They produce a flyer to help jewelers
work with platinum and try to promote understanding of this weird metal. I
have a friend who works in their PR dept his name is Chris Cort. I will try
to get his # to you. RED


#10

Use an inert material for your
solder pick such as titanium or niobium.

Hi Red, I use a tungsten wire as a pick, which will not burn away at the
temperatures needed for platinum. Don’t know where to get it in USA, I
bought my wire at a firm that produces tools for machine shops and sell
carbide and pure tungsten in any shape, wire, rod etc. got the address
from Degussa (major producer/refiner for metals, chemicals, medicine…).
Just a hint, Markus


#11

< I looked into the masters cert, but got scared away when they told me the
< amount of time they expect the pieces to be made in…

I have a lot of reservations about this JA bench certification program.
Each jeweler has areas that they are better in and some that they are
weaker in. I for instance need a lot of work on my stone setting skils,
especially pave setting. I think that a standard that expects a jeweler to
meet certain levels on everything could prevent someone from developing a
real profeciency in a certain area. And the time factor is weird also. Some
of us work slower (me) and some faster. If the job is done well it should
not matter. I guess I am bucking this because I feal that it bring the
profession down to the lowest common denomanator even though the argument
is to give some standards to the industry.
Old fashion RED


#12

Mark,

Thanks for the tips. I was reading the section on working with platinum
in the back of the Stuller metals book and that was also helpful. Looks
like the first thing I have to do it get a pair of welding glasses.

Just one more question…Will oxy/propane be hot enough for the higher
temperature solders?

Thanks, Sharon Ziemek


#13

My welding glasses are an optivisor with a rectangular welding filter in
front of the lens. Now I can see when I weld platinum…

Rick Hamilton
Richard D. Hamilton, Jr
http://www.rick-hamilton.com
@rick_hamilton


#14

Just one more question…Will oxy/propane be hot enough for the higher
temperature solders?

Oxy-propane is what I use- works fine- platinum is not as conductive as
gold alloys or sterling, so the heat tends to be very localized, though of
course much hotter.

Rick Hamilton
Richard D. Hamilton, Jr
http://www.rick-hamilton.com
@rick_hamilton


#15

I use a tungsten wire as a pick, which will not burn away at the
temperatures needed for platinum.

Any interesting story… About 1982 I was sizing a plat ring using a
tungsten pick (bought from swest) and I got it overheated. It ignited and
very quickly combined with the platinum with a huge sparkle and I dropped
it. It burned a hole right through the steel bench tray, through my pants
leg (whew), through the linoleum and into the concrete floor. I dug it out
and became fascinated with the new alloy. I tried to file it and succeeded
in creating a shiny smooth area on the file. There was a dark shiny drop
on it that was even harder, I wonder what it was…

The moral, even though you are told a solder pick is safe to use with
plat, it still needs to be used with caution. The flame created with
oxy-propane is hot enough to turn the pick into a super-sparkler, and ruin
the platinum to boot…

Prologue; the shank of the involved ring was destroyed, and I was able to
save the ring by half-shanking it.

Jeffrey Everett


#16

I have a lot of reservations about this JA bench certification program.

Red,

I am also extrememly intimidated by the time factor on these tests, and
may never take them because of that, however, I also only have 7 years of
part time jewelry making as a basis to work on. I do like the idea of the
certification, as it gives me something to strive towards and, assuming I
could pass, an edge over my local competition. The consumer these days
likes to see credentials. As for the tests themselves, I suspect that
over the next few years they may evolve as feedback is gained from those
who take them. They do seem to require an incredibly broad base of skill
in every aspect of jewelry repair and manufacture for each level. As for
the Master level, I have an immense respect for anyone coming from a
European background who is a Master Craftsman in any field because of the
level of skill and knowledge that is required to attain that honor. We in
the States have a tendency to water down the requirements for attaining
higher level recognition. I personnally believe (for what it’s worth) that
Master Craftsmen should be an eleit few who have truly mastered all areas
of their trade, and they have done so because they have dedicated
themselves to the field and have practiced at it for many more years than I
have.

Just a few thoughts on the subject. Hope I haven’t offended anyone.

BTW, thanks for the name at the PGI. I have their number and will give
him a call. My contact there is usually on the road when I call.

Regards,

Sharon Ziemek
GoldStones, Inc.


#17

tungsten picks

Gesswein has them for about $6.00.

We make 2-3 custom platinum item a month. My tips;

  1. Cast whenever possible, making sure size is correct and that you have
    to do as little post cast soldering as possible. Will save you time and
    money. If you don’t cast send to Quality Casting in NY, they do a nice job.

  2. When fabricating be sure to prepolish everything, big time saver. And
    when polishing, first emery with finest grit available (or blue wheel),
    then tripoli with a very aggressive compound like emery cake, then gray
    star compound, finally green rouge. People will tell you that many more
    steps are required, I don’t feel they are.

  3. When sizing use a gates-of-hell temperature seamless solder about 1700
    degrees. This is almost welding. You will have few seam problems. Beware
    of soldering too close to stones, even diamond will burn at these
    temperatures.

  4. Be sure to charge enough. A rule of thumb is to double what you would
    charge for the same thing in 14k gold. It is very easy to miscalculate the
    cost because of the materials density.

  5. Enjoy yourself platinum is a very beautiful and different material.

Mark P.


#18

< I have an immense respect for anyone coming from a
< European background who is a Master Craftsman in any field because of
< the level of skill and knowledge that is required to attain that honor.
< We in the States have a tendency to water down the requirements for
< attaining higher level recognition. >>

Sharon You are so right. I have a Masters Degree in Jewelry Design and
Metalsmithing, when I got out of school I thought I knew it all. The
second day on the job I had earned the nick name of “Red the poor littly
stupid boy” 12 years later I run into problems daily that I have to learn
new skills to solve. We in the states do not place as much importance on
quality and craftsmanship. I have a friend Ruvin Pearlman who learned 30
years ago in germany his trade as a jeweler. He has told stories of the
rigorus training and the tight tolerances they were expected to maintain. I
never would have given myself a masters degree at the time and perhaps not
even now. The schools need to have practical experience as a part of the
learning process. The old style of apprentiships served as an excellent way
for a younger jeweler to learn from a lifetime of experience. Why reinvent
the wheel?? Just some thoughts. RED


#19
I personnally believe (for what it's worth) that
Master Craftsmen should be an eleit few who have truly mastered all areas
of their trade, and they have done so because they have dedicated
themselves to the field and have practiced at it for many more years than I
have.  
Just a few thoughts on the subject.  Hope I haven't offended anyone.

No offense taken here Sharon, I agree with you. I was hoping that after
more than a quarter of a century working on my jewelry making techniques,
and learning every new thing possible, I could warrant the masters
certificate. I spent over an hour talking with the administrator about the
process, it was very interesting. I knew that I could do everything asked
of me, but might fail the time limits, as I tend to work slowly and
carefully. I have never been big on making hinged metal boxes, having only
been asked to make about 4 or 5 in my career.

The silver box they want made (one possible project) consists of a hinged
box about 1-1/2" square, with a dome top and a karat gold pave’ set floral
pattern (about 8 melle) apliqued to the top. Now am I wrong or does that
sound like a pretty big project to do in 8 hours??? I suppose I could do
it, but it would probably (most definitely) not be of the quality I like
to put out.

I’ll see if I can put together a faq for the list… oh yeah, the test
costs in the neighborhood of $1000, and can be taken at your own bench
with a proctor.

Jeffrey Everett


#20
4) Be sure to charge enough. A rule of thumb is to double what you would
charge for the same thing in 14k gold. It is very easy to miscalculate the
cost because of the materials density.

Doubling you est can cost you big bucks, let me illustrate with a little
math based on receiving two castings of the same item from the usual
caster, one in 14k, one in platinum. (mark-ups are different with each
caster)

gold casting weighs 5 dwt and costs approx $75 (typical mark-up) plat
casting weighs 8.2 dwt and costs approx $275 (typical mark-up)

As you can see, the higher specific gravity (density) combined with the
higher purity creates a dramatic difference in your costs. Now add to that
the increase in time for hand working platinum, at least double (I now
generally triple on fabricated items) and you end up with a piece costing
perhaps as much as 5 times the same piece in 14k gold. I learned this the
hard way after making several necklaces and bracelets comprised of many
large stone-set links. I lost my proverbial shirt, and learned a very hard
lesson, losing several thousand dollars on the projects.

       Jeffrey Everett, jewelry craftsman

Handmade 18K, 22K, and platinum gemstone jewelry.
Diamond setting, rubber/metal molds, casting, lapidary
Die and mold engraving, plastic patterns for casting.
Jewelry design, cad/cam, milling, scroll, filigree, & more.
P O Box 2057 Fairfield IA 52556 515-469-6250