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Statistics refining and ingot ramble


Hi all,

Most interesting, those statistics.

Leads me to talk of refining.

Back in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s in South Africa, I was a young
idealistic jeweller. (now I am a older idealistic jewellery) Those
times were fraught with danger. There were the Gold and Diamond
Police. A totally anti social bunch of fellows.

They would pull into your work shop, and ask for your current yearly
’jewelry permit’, your license to have unwrought gold on the
premises. There was a large register in which we had to write EVERY
time when we would melt gold, the weights before and after, the
time, day, date and all that stuff. A real schlep. If your weights
were wrong, or you did not have a current permit, you would be taken
to court, fined $1000 (the Rand was at 1.30 to the Dollar back then)
and be given a one year sentence, suspended for five years. That was
the first offence. At the same time you would not be allowed to
practice your trade, unless you worked for a boss. I know, because
that’s what happened to me. If that happened, it would also close
your business down and you would be on the streets. A tough one, to
be sure. Anyway, those rules led to some ‘gold gymnastics’. For one,
we would make our own solder .If the cops saw you were buying a lot
of solder and not buying a lot of raw gold under permit, they would
put two and two together and investigate for sure. So we would take
in ‘old gold’ and then refine it. And there in lay the beauty.

When ever you had to buy gold legally,you would have to make an
application at the cop shop, then receive it a couple of weeks
later, then (for me) go to the Mint,(where the coins were made) wait
at some very imposing wrought iron gates then be escorted by an
armed Afrikaner guard (known in goldsmith terminology as a ‘rope’,
because they were thick, coarse and hairy) Then you would be allowed
to buy your fine gold after filling in many, many useless and
pointless forms. Then you would be marched back to the gates and let

It was much easier, in those days, to simply refine your own gold.
We did that by first taking old jewelry (9ct, and 18ct) and weighing
it. Then, say if you had 10 grams, you would add 5 times the weight
of copper. So you would have 60 grams. Then you would melt it and
either roll it out and cut it into little pieces, or you would make
’shot’ poured into a bucket of water.

To this Gold/Copper/Silver mixture, you would add Concentrated
Nitric acid until such a time that no more reaction took place.
Evil smoke commeth from there, I kid thee not.

You would be left with stuff that looked like coffee grinds. Then we
added Boric acid, Saltpetre, and Methylated spirits and slowly
brought it up to melt in a crucible.

Bingo! this produced gold that was regarded as 22ct and alloyed down
from there .Besides which, if you melted it and it retained its
shine, it was as close as good to 24ct.

I suppose it could have been a higher caratage, but since you could
not assay it, (permits and all) it would be better to lose some than
to sell under caratage. You would lose the silver. Refining white
gold was a no no. But what the hell, it was a great one to pull a
fast one over the ropes, sorry, cops. Twice in my life they opened
my “coffee” tin, looked inside and closed it again,-Whew!

The statistics also show a strong interest in ingots. I would like
to point those interested to a design which I put on my website a
while ago. Go to artist/tool tips/ingot

I have been using this form of ingot for many years. Works very well
and is cheap to make.

Hans Meevis