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Why people work with nickel?


#1

Hi

can some one explain to me why people work with nickel.

One in ten people are allergic to this metal. It is banned in the EU
for this reason.

It is even more crap than low karat golds. For casting there are
alternatives, such as lead free “pewter”.

I am a silversmith (newbies we also work in high karat golds). The
price of sterling is insignificant

compared to the labour charge.

I specialise in rings, metal cost $15 usually less. Labour charge $
40 plus. Selling price as much as the trade will bear.

I recently put my prices up 50% still can not keep up the
stock!!!

The final selling price is less than fashion jewellery profit
margins. I used to make this crap so I know.

A fashion trade secret, screw them hard for the dollars. When I was
head designer for

Beadco. I said to Victoria (Wiki) these sequins on surgical steel
ear wires cost 10 cents

what will the retail price be? $5 she said, sold thousands. Those
were the 80’s.

Resin earrings material and labour $1 retail $70.

Why not use a quality metal instead of crap?

Not a criticism just a question.

Richard
Xtines Jewels


#2

I am unsure why people work with nickel as unsure as why people
spend more for glass than on semi-precious alternatives.

I have seen many people working with unsafe materials and practices
in the last ten years as I have studied and learned. I took classes
from a professional silversmith because I was taught in college fine
art school that safety is first. Unfortunately people think they can
self teach themselves and safety is usually the farthest thing from
their minds. A friend saw me working and nicknamed me Darth Vader
because of my respirator and face shield always on when casting and
doing anything dangerous. He laughed and said he never wore that
crap too uncomfortable he was not laughing so much when he inhaled
low melt metal vapors after I had warned him of my experiences.

Usually I guess it comes down to them thinking they can sell cheaper
materials for more profit. In the end like in cooking garbage in
garbage out.

Teri


#3

The only thing I have made with nickel is money clips, upon advise
that it has more spring to it, will last longer than sterling. A lot
ofNative Americans in OK use nickel (German Silver) (and yes I am
Native &came from there). Some were 2nd generation, or
multi-generations smiths & that what was done.

Sharon Perdasofpy


#4

Hi Gang,

Just FYI, Nickel Silver/German Silver isn’t actually Nickel. It’s a
white brass. Copper/zinc and a lot of nickel to make it white, but
it isn’t pure nickel metal.

As for using it. tradition? For years it was a low-cost alternative
for silver in the ‘art jewelry’ scene. As I understand it, it was
originally developed for die-struck flatware. They needed a 'white’
base material to plate onto, so they could use a thinner plate. With
a ‘white’ base, it wouldn’t show through as badly when the thinner
plate wore through.

FWIW,
Brian


#5

Good question. Did using nickel instead of palladium or more gold
originate in corporate America large producers after the 1980’s? In
economics there is something called x- efficiency. Basically, with
economies of scale, large producers are not concerned with output
being more efficient in cost orquality (for consumers). After 1970’s
or 1980’s the the CEO salary went from 40 times the average workers
salary to over 400 times the the average workers salary. So perhaps
using nickel was a Reagan-omics idea? Or is using nickel not
exclusive to US?

Rick Powell


#6
can some one explain to me why people work with nickel.... Why not
use a quality metal instead of crap? Not a criticism just a
question. 

If it’s not a criticism, why are you calling nickel-silver “crap”? I
call nickel-silver “fun to work with,” my only reservation being
that it does not anneal as well as, say, copper. Richard, we live in
different jewelry worlds – I like large, heavier pieces of jewelry
(so do my customers) and I like to experiment. Nickel-silver is
perfect for that. It reticulates nicely, without prior preparation.
It shines up quite well (though not as wonderfully as silver) and
wears very well. I know that nickel allergies are real, but in 35
years, I’ve never run across it among my customers (due, no doubt,
mostly to prior self-selection). It also blends well with brass and
copper, both in terms of melting points and the contrasting colors of
the metal. I also do not have to collect sawing/filing remnants,
although I do save my scrap sheet left over from sawing. And I don’t
have to worry about anyone stealing my raw stock.

I would love to work in silver but don’t have the time because I’m
having too much fun working with (and wearing) base metal.

Judy Bjorkman


#7

There is one thing that works well with nickel. If you are doing
sculpture, prototypes and flatware/tableware, nickel works well for
that. Hard, tough, durable, easy to spot-solder, easy to plate, easy
to make sturdy flatware, so forth. I don’t use nickel for jewelry,
except when I’mdoing the rare mokume billet or mock inlay. Since
nickle is used in pre-plating, it makes sense that it will work
better for larger work. I’ve spent the past quarter century making
flatware, and about 30%-40% of my total output is nickel flatware. I
do have it silver plated afterwards, and more in rhodium-plate now.
For some reason, I have a lot of people will not buy sterling
utensils, but are comfortable with silverplated or rhodium-plated
utensils. Occasionally I get an vintage utensil that needs to be
straightened out and replated, and a lot of the older utensils are
nickel that were silverplated. I have a drawer full of themthat I use
regularly.

On the flip side, I refuse to work with nickel-based white gold, and
always work with palladium-based white gold. The only time I use
nickel white gold is the settings, since so many of the heads are
still traditional nickel white gold. I wish Stuller and Hoover and
Strong will increase their palladium white gold setting line.
Sometimes I have to use a platinum head instead of white gold.

I know I will get trashed for posting this message, but nickel does
have it’s place in certain applications so don’t rule that out.

Joy


#8

Re. the German silver, it’s sometimes used in horse bits in the
mouth piece. It has the nickel, but it also has a decent amount of
copper in it, and that makes horses salivate and chew the bit more,
thus making them more responsive to the bit. And the amount of copper
in it doesn’t make it illegal to use in competition in some riding
disciplines. A full copper can be considered too much of a "crutch"
over good riding. I can’t use a full copper bit in the dressage
portion of rated horse trials, but I can use a German silver bit. But
whether or not it has copper in it can’t make you a better rider.
It’s just another tool to use along with hard work. El


#9

Seems to me that the correct answer to the question about why some
folks work in any specific kind of metal (or any other medium come to
that) is “each to his own”.

Just because some people won’t work with a certain material doesn’t
make it any better or worse than any other material: just different.

Excellent art & design exists on many different planes, and there’s
a place for everything in this world. don’t you thinke

Janet Barkwith
TheSmilingFoxStudio.com


#10

I must have missed the start of this thread. Why not use nickel
based white gold? Besides allergy.


#11

Hi Janet et al

Seems to me that the correct answer to the question about why some
folks work in any specific kind of metal (or any other medium come
to that) is "each to his own". 

Not on point. Since posting I have learned that nickel is good for
certain applications. Money clips, flatware and bridle bits.

But as a general rule is far inferior to sterling or 950. The price
of silver, especially now prices have dropped, makes it affordable.

925 is still the best choice for an affordable, quality metal for
hand making.

NOTE we do use many varieties of base metal cast components, all
nickel free.

Richard
Xtines Jewels


#12
Did using nickel instead of palladium or more gold originate in
corporate America large producers after the 1980's? In economics
there is something called x- efficiency. Basically, with economies
of scale, large producers are not concerned with output being more
efficient in cost orquality (for consumers). After 1970's or 1980's
the the CEO salary went from 40 times the average workers salary to
over 400 times the the average workers salary. So perhaps using
nickel was a Reagan-omics idea? Or is using nickel not exclusive to
US? 

Nice try to blame American capitalism for white gold.

"White gold was invented in the 19th century where it was alloyed
with palladium. It became commercially available as of 1912 in
Pforzheim, Germany and gained popularity in the mid-1920’s as a low
cost substitute for platinum. It is an alloy of gold with copper,
zinc and nickel. In more recent times the nickel in this alloy has
often been replaced by a platinum family metal due to allergic
reactions. The different recipes produce different alloys which,
naturally, have different characteristics in terms of ductility,
malleability and hardness. These differing properties make different
alloys suitable for different purposes. "
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep80dv

Paf Dvorak


#13
... gained popularity in the mid-1920's as a low cost substitute
for platinum. 

One book about Art Deco jewelry said that platinum has been used as
low cost alternative to white gold. So just the reverse. Platinum was
an unusual metal then, and rose in price only with the industrial
development. Evidence is, that there aren’t any price references for
Pt before 1960, whereas Au and Ag is recorded since 1833.

Ditto


#14
One book about Art Deco jewelry said that platinum has been used as
low cost alternative to white gold. So just the reverse. Platinum
was an unusual metal then, and rose in price only with the
industrial development. Evidence is, that there aren't any price
references for Pt before 1960, whereas Au and Ag is recorded since
1833. 

It would be good to know which book gave you this false

As to price references, the U. S. Geological Survey has records of
all mineral prices going back to 1882, when Congress asked that such
statistics should be kept. Statistics going back to 1900 are
available as tables on the USGS website.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep80dx

Comparing prices of gold and platinum through the years is quite
interesting.

In 1900 a metric ton of Pt was $201,000, a metric ton of Au was
$609,000.

But in 1901 Pt had risen to $629,000 while Au only rose to $610,000.

The big jump for gold was in 1934, the year of the Gold Reserve Act,
which, among other things, set the price of gold at $35/oz tr.

Elliot Nesterman


#15

You sure about that? There’s all sorts of Pt jewelry from the
1920’s. I’ve lost track of the number of old 20’s vintage Pt wedding
rings I’ve seen. Where are you looking for price references that you
can’t find any before 1960?

Regards,
Brian.


#16
It would be good to know which book gave you this false

So far, I have found no proof which of the sources is spreading
false

I’ll dig the book reference out to see what it exactly says about Pt
being substitute for white gold. Again, this was a book about Art
Deco jewelry, so it was talking about a limited range of years.

Where are you looking for price references that you can't find any
before 1960? 

Kitco.

If one reads the fine print underneath the tables from the US
Geoligical Survey the “unit prices” are weighted, sometimes
estimated, corrected and adjusted prices. It appears, to me, that
actual price recording for this metal group only starts in 1958.

Ditto.


#17
I have seen many people working with unsafe materials and
practices in the last ten years as I have studied and learned. I
took classes from a professional silversmith because I was taught
in college fineart school that safety is first. 

Why is nickel considered unsafe? Just because some people are alergic
to it? What about the nickel you use for money?

Usually I guess it comes down to them thinking they can sell
cheaper materials for more profit. 

Why do you assume people sell nickel pieces without tellingpeople it
is nickel?

In the end like in cooking garbage in garbage out. 

I happen to like nickel, a lot. I like the color and price compared
with silver. But mostly I like the ruggedness of nickel. More of a
match for organic pieces. brenda


#18

and I am so allergic to nickle I would be afraid to work with it. A
little nickle on my arms brings up a rash that extends from fingers
to elbow. And I didn’t used to be allergic to it. It developed with
time.

That’s why I believe that no exposure is the best exposure to nickle
for everyone in jewelry. Who wants to ask for a problem and who wants
to cause this for someone else? Don’t need that karma.

Barbara on a day on the Island when she is hoping she can be an
instrument in the right place at the right time in the universe. Long
story.


#19

In my recreational life in the Society for Creative Anachronism, I
make crowns for our “Royalty” out of brass and nickel (white brass).

Two reasons:

Affordability, You do the math, the “hat” that I am currently
finishing weighs over 9 oz in brass, the cost of gold? Personal
comfort, We go camping, leave something worth thousands sitting in
tents, think again.

Yes, my wife has a 22k gold Pelican medallion, but she also has one
of brass, that she wears the majority of the time!

Mark Chapman


#20

Hi guys,

I hate to be pedantic, but everybody who keeps talking about using
"nickel" does realize that nickel silver isn’t actually pure nickel
metal, right? Unless you’re going waaaay out of your way to
specifically track down and buy real, pure, nickel metal, you’re
probably using nickel silver, which is actually a white brass. It
does have a fair bit of nickel in it, (to make it white) but it
isn’t really nickel. Isn’t even mostly nickel. (Depending on alloy,
it’s generally 10-16% or so.) It’s mostly copper, really, along with
a bit of zinc.

Sorry, the teacher in me just can’t leave bad data un-noted.

Regards,
Brian