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Recycling platinum


#1

Hi all, Having fastidiously saved every wire clipping and sawn off
scrap of sheet platinum from thirty two years of fabricating jewelry,
in anticipation of some far off time in later life when I would cash
in all in, I’ve been thinking that perhaps that the time had come.
The platinum market is up and the economy is down. Why not? After a
few phone calls and e-mails, however, I came to the realization that
just sending it as “clean jewelry scrap”, to either Hoover and
Strong or United/PMR (and probably most others as well), will cost
(in addition to an acceptable processing charge), a discount of
TWENTY percent under market of the day. What a deal.

A friend close to the refining industry, suggested that I try
calling Johnson Matthey in New York to see if perhaps they had a
better price schedule. Their fees are a minimum of $750 for refining,
a $200 assay charge, and $12/oz. of platinum recovered. Better,
except for the catch—> They require six weeks lead time and pay
out based on the market price on the day of settlement. The platinum
market being what it is, that could be a costly gamble.

Does anyone know a better way???

I have also considered recycling the clean scrap into sheet and wire
here in the studio. I have a big Durston mill, carbide draw plates
and recycle my 18k yellow regularly. I do not, however, have platinum
casting facilities at the studio. To date, I’ve sent those waxes to a
caster.

Is it time to take the plunge? How large a torch would I need to
successfully melt and pour several ounces of 10% iridium platinum
from a hand held wesgo crucible? Can I use the same type of steel
sheet mold and cast iron wire ingot molds that I use for 18k?

I understand and respect the contamination issues regarding
platinum. Can I expect to be successful at this?

What are the opinions of all you good thinkers out there? (And,
what’s that old quote about, “The best laid plans of mice and
men…”?)

Peace,
Ken Weston


#2

Ken, I have upped the price I charge for platinum (and 18K palladium
white gold for that matter) because you lose so much when you refine
the waste/scrap. If you can’t find a refiner who will give you
better rates, and I doubt you will find a better deal for small lots
than a refiner like Hoover or for really large lots than Johnson
Mathey, but hey, if you do let us know! I have been keeping my ear
to the ground for several years with no luck. If you really want a
shock start calling people about refining palladium out of palladium
white gold alloys! Once you start delving into the details you find
that some of these companies really take a huge cut on palladium.

Left to us is the option of recycling our scrap. If you are sure
that all your alloy is the same formulation then it is safe to melt
it together provided that it is extremely clean. Soak it in a new
batch of hot pickle to remove the iron content. You can pour the
platinum in an iron ingot mold (not graphite or clay) but be careful
on two accounts; foreign metal contamination and carbon
contamination. With gold I usually run a pure gas flame over the
inside of the mold to create a layer of carbon to keep the metal
from sticking. I know some jewelers who use a light layer of oil.
With platinum I don’t do either. I am too worried that the excess
carbon would alloy into the molten platinum and ruin the metal.
I’ve never had an ingot stick. Make sure that the ingot mold is
free of any gold or other metal. The metal could contaminate the
platinum. I don’t normally heat the ingot mold any hotter for
platinum than I do gold, but I probably heat the mold more than
others even for gold.

It is such a risk pouring platinum ingots that I usually avoid it at
all cost, preferring to melt small buttons of platinum so that if
for some reason the alloy is contaminated or that a piece of cobalt
platinum got in my ruthenium platinum I haven’t ruined an entire
ingot/rod of platinum (unfortunately I speak from experience here).

Hope this helps out.
Larry Seiger


#3

Perhaps you could make a wax in the shape of an ingot and send it to
your regular caster with instructions to cast it using your scrap.