I recently was approached by a perfume company about making caps for
their bottles. Without going into too much useless detail, they want
me to price the job in both sterling and fine silver. Most of the
artisan detail will come in the finishing process, the casting, i
just need to “get done”. I went to my usual caster and he tells me
that in sterling it will cost me $30 and in fine silver it will cost
$102. ?!?!?! My eyes almost popped out of my head. I’m obviously
planning on getting another quote before I give my client a quote,
but can anyone shed some light on this? Is this just basically my
caster saying he doesn’t want to do it? Is there some mythological
fine silver that actually has gold in it? I feel like an idiot!
Thanks very much for your insights!
Hilary- Congratulations on landing a nice big account.
Sounds like your casters just don’t want to do it. Fine silver is
not that much more than sterling. A little, but certainly not more
than three times the cost of sterling. It’s easy to just buy common
fine silver rounds from most any bullion broker or refiner. I get
mine from AAA Precious Metals here in Portland.
Fine silver needs no special casting equipment or techniques. I’ve
done it tons of times. It should be the same cost per casting. You
may want to offer to supply the metal and have them just charge you
the casting/flask fee.
If they balk at that, it’s time to find another caster. There are
plenty out there looking for business.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Wha??? That sounds nuts, too expensive for fine silver. I’d find
Amery Carriere Designs
Fine silver needs no special casting equipment or techniques. I've
done it tons of times. It should be the same cost per casting.
While it doesn’t require different equipment it can indeed require
different techniques. All pure metals are more difficult to cast
consistently than alloys. This is due to the much greater likelihood
of having shrinkage porosity and even voids due to the freezing off
of gates and sprues because alloys have a solidification range and
pure metals have a solidification point. When I worked in a
production casting house we had a much larger rejection rate in fine
silver castings than sterling silver ones. So we charged more for
fine silver. I agree three times more is excessive for most castings
but there are some castings that I would have charged ten times more
due to the problems we had in getting good solid castings where
there were large cross sections that we had great difficulty in not
ending up with shrinkage voids.
James Binnion Metal Arts
I am flabergasted at the price they quoted you for casting fine
silver. It is no more difficult than casting sterling. I castfine
silver often–using the castinggrain from Rio. My guess is that they
just don’t want your business.
Jim, presumably what you’re saying about solidification points has
something to do with an experience I’ve had. I often water cast small
ingots for forging, and I’ve found that fine silver, fine gold, and
mixtures of the two don’t cast very well using this method; they end
up with a very rough, deep dimple on top of the ingot, although the
rest of the surface is good. Evena small amount of copper seems to
stop this happening (eg. if I alloy it to sterling instead of fine