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Testing white metal


#1

Can anyone suggest a simple test for telling if a white-metal bead
is nickel-silver or pewter?

Sometimes I find nice used metal beads, or friends will give me
some. I have a little bottle of some nasty acid that tells me if a
bead is sterling silver or nickel-silver. Other beads I will file it
in an inconspicuous place, or tumble polish in abrasive media, or
snip one bead in half, to make sure it is not plastic or plated. (I
will not use plastic, and I don’t like to use plated beads.)

Thanks in advance,
Judy Bjorkman


#2
a simple test for telling if a white-metal bead is nickel-silver or
pewter? 

How about a couple? Nickel silver is white brass, and the brasses
respond to nitric acid - that’s probably your nasty little bottle.
Pewter is tin, which responds to hydrochloric acid - concrete etch
or swimming pool acid (muriatic) in the hardware store. Even easier
is a scratch test. Pull out your pocket knife and scratch it - if it
carves like soap it’s either tin or lead or a combination of the
two.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#3
a simple test for telling if a white-metal bead is nickel-silver or
pewter? 

How about a couple? Nickel silver is white brass, and the brasses
respond to nitric acid - that’s probably your nasty little bottle.
Pewter is tin, which responds to hydrochloric acid - concrete etch or
swimming pool acid (muriatic) in the hardware store. Even easier is a
scratch test. Pull out your pocket knife and scratch it - if it
carves like soap it’s either tin or lead or a combination of the two.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#4

make a small file mark, place a drop of silver test solution on it,
if it sizzles white it’s zinc containing nickel or white metal, if
it sizzles grey it’s pewter or bismuth/antimony containing pewter
like alloy

rer


#5

despite John’s, rather terse and almost insulting, summation of
standard testing solutions, I find that having a set of premixed
acids on hand is very useful…if one can’t afford the $600. 00and up
electronic metals testers that is…One recommendation though is as
soon as any of you that choose to use the “nasty” stuff, buy it,
have some acid bottles with glass stoppered tops on hand to squeeze
the solutions into, as they are packed in plastic…which the acids
will readily ( a a couple of months) eat through…Most sets come in a
wood box too, so don’t put your face right over the box when opening
it unless you’re looking for a really bad high, or trip to the
emergency room. the glass stoppered acid bottles are about 1. 50 each
from sciplus. com…or their labware site…and fit back into the wood
box…and then you can open it with your face directly over it
-without worry…

R. E. Rourke


#6

Well John

make a small file mark, place a drop of silver test solution on
it, if it sizzles white it's zinc containing nickel or white metal,
if it sizzles grey it's pewter or bismuth/antimony containing
pewter like alloy 

that would be fair enough if all pewter was lead containing…that
has theoretically been outlawed…so unless it’s old pewter…there
shouldn’t be any lead in the newer pewter alloys…just bismuth
antimony etc.


#7
Can anyone suggest a simple test for telling if a white-metal bead
is nickel-silver or pewter? 

The most simple test can be made with a graver or file on an
inconspicuous edge. Pewter will cut very easily, like a knife through
soft butter, nickel silver will offer more resistance.

Melissa Veres, engraver


#8

Hi Folks…

that would be fair enough if all pewter was lead containing..that
has theoretically been outlawed..so unless it's old pewter..there
shouldn't be any lead in the newer pewter alloys..just bismuth
antimony etc. 

Don’t believe that’s exactly the case…

Got a new Fire Mountain Catalog last week with about 4 or 5 pages of
pewter pendants in it that mention the fact that the products may
contain varying amounts of lead… And therefore are not suitable
for children, etc…

Reason it stood out to me is that most of the time catalog folks in
general are mentioning that their pewter is lead free… In that
same FM catalog there are many more pages of the lead free
pewter…

I think it’s more that you have to let the customer know that the
stuff has lead in it…and that if it’s a product aimed at kids, it
better not have any…

Gary W. Bourbonais
A.J.P. (GIA)