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Working in platinum

I have a friend who borrows my bench and advice from time to
time to make a piece of jewelry. He wants to make an engagement
ring and is rather set on using platinum. The problem is that I
have never worked in platinum (only gold and silver) and am
wondering what is involved and how much harder is it to work
with. I have suggested to him that it may be easier to make a
wax model and send it out to be cast. That way he would only
have to deal with setting the diamond and finishing the piece.
Does this sound appropriate? Or am I being chicken? What extra
materials and equipment would be involved if he wanted to
fabricate it (I have most of the usual gold/silver working
tools)? Is an acetylene and air torch hot enough to solder

Thanks for any advice.


Call me, before you make several terrible mistakes! It’s too
much to explain in e-mail. My phone is : 530 743-4447 or 530
749-0240. Stan

Jan. oxy/actylene is a no! for plat. it contaminates the metal
and causes it to become brittle. for other tips check out the
october 1997 issue of american jewelry manufacturer. good
article on plat. principles repair tips and techniques. the wax
idea is easiest if you have never worked plat. you have a lot to
learn. i use quality castings in New York and have had good
results on a regular basis. research before you get involved
with plat. mistakes can be very costly as you are working with a
pure metal that is also heavier than gold and more expensive.
also check with the platinum guild they are very helpful. luck

Aloha,I have been lurking on this list for a while.Thought I
would put my two cents in.Convince your friend on another
metal,like 18K white gold.Platinum working requires many seperate
considerations for success.First,your torch.Acetylene is too
dirty a fuel and will cause big problems,in either fabrication or
casting.You want to use oxy-propane,oxy-natural gas or ideally,a
hydrogen torch.The bench and tools must be immaculately clean or
just for platinum work only.Other metals will contaminate your
platinum.Titanium tweezers or jaws for your thirdhand are
desireable.Binding wire or clips should not be used.As well as
charcoal or gypsum blocks.No boric acid is required or
desired.Nitric acid should be used as a pickle.Special polishing
compounds are highly recommended(look in Rio or Gesswein
catalogs).I am not trying to deter you from working in
platinum,its really a joy to work with.Just trying to get you
started in the right direction.You may want to contact the
Platinum Guild for more info,I’m sure they can
help.Basically,you should set up another bench just for platinum
work.Good luck in your endeavours.That was my two cents worth.

Christian Grunewald
Jewelry By Design

Aloha, Did I say Titanium or Tungsten tweezers or 3rd hand
jaws?In either case I meant, Tungsten(tungsten carbide).I hadn’t
had my second cup of coffee yet.

Regards, Christian Grunewald
Jewelry By Design

Thank you, everyone, for your cautions. I will definately look
into this a little more carefully and call the platinum guild and
consult some more books.

Frank, I am located in NY and was wondering if you can give me
the address and phone # for Quality Castings. I would appreciate
it very much.

Is doing a wax model, having it casted, and filing and buffing
(with separate tools) a safe bet? Or is there anything else I
should be careful with if my friend still decides to use

Thanks all!


yes jill i will find quality castings info and post it for you.
be sure and polish your wax to a high gloss before casting and
it will save finish time. also be sure you add 35/40 extra to
what you think the wax will cost to cast for the sprue that ALL
casters seem determined to leave and add that extra bit of
profit. good luck if you need info on polishing wax post me.

  also be sure you add 35/40 extra to what you think the wax
will cost to cast for the sprue that ALL casters seem
determined to leave and add that extra bit of profit. good luck
if you need info on polishing wax post me.

Hey! Not true! Unless you refer to all platinum casters that
is. We are a casting company that does mainly silver and bronze
and some gold and copper when customers need it, and we do ALOT
of custom work for designers and carvers, and we don’t charge
them for the sprue, we clip it off (unless they ask that it be
left on, of course, for molding purposes; and at that point it is
only fair that they pay for what they get).

Hi Everyone,

I was wondering if I could pick your brain about fabricating in

For the last few years I have been getting acclimated to fabricating
in the different karat golds and palladium and have been having a
blast working my way through figuring out the specifics of each.

I would like to start horsing around with platinum and have been
reading a bit about finishing it. but am wondering about basic
forming and soldering.

If you want to make a band from flat stock and solder it shut is
that something I can do without a lot of equipment and an
oxy/acetylene little torch?

I would love to hear about the possibilities and any tips you may
have to share!

Thanks Orchid!

Most anything you can form in gold you can do in platinum. some
things much better as it does not conduct heat well you can solder
next to a soldered piece and it will not come unsoldered. One tip is
to always pre polish all your parts. No oxidation is great. you do
need to wear welders goggles or have awelders lens between you and
what you are soldering to protect your eyes from the intense light.
The little torch will work fine on most items…

Christine- Easy breezy. Just fuse it. No flux, no solder. Just take a
small bit of the platinum, roll it or hammer it until it’s paper this
and use it for fusing. You’ll need a clean soldering block just for
platinum and some good welders glasses. That’s it. Do not use flux or
boric acid fire coat, no picks or tweezers unless they are
specifically for platinum.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

If you want to make a band from flat stock and solder it shut
isthat something I can do without a lot of equipment and an
oxy/acetylene little torch? 

Platinum will not oxidize in the atmosphere - just to be on the same
page, I’m talking 10% iridium platinum, the only alloy worth
bothering with. Platinum melts at 4500F or something- I’m not going
to look it up right now. It requires good welding goggles. A great
deal of platinum fabrication can and should be welded - certainly
the seam on a band should be welded. That’s going to take your bigtip
and the welding goggles. The goggles aren’t optional… Soldering
in platinum is usually reserved for details, much of a whole ring can
often be welded. No flux, no dip, just get a rod of platinum and
start fusing. Be aware that platinum is quite expensive and it’s
also dense - keep track of your metal and filings like you never did
before. One ring sizing can be $50 worth of metal on a large ring.

Just remember not to weld or solder it on a charcoal block. The
presence of carbon can cause it to become brittle. Hamish

Hi Everyone!

Thanks for all the advice that came in!

I am totally going to try fabricating platinum based on the info and
tips you gave me.

Best to all of you!

If you want to make a band from flat stock and solder it shut is
that something I can do without a lot of equipment and an
oxy/acetylene little torch? 

Do NOT use acetylene when working with platinum! It causes the metal
to be brittle.

Use propane instead.

Paf Dvorak

You can’t use acetylene with platinum. The amount of carbon in the
gas is too high. The carbon will fuse with the metal and cause all
sorts of brittleness. Fortunately, natural gas or propane and oxygen
works really well. I have an adaptor that fits a one pound camping
bottle of propane. I use it for my casting torch as well as a Little
torch, a Hoke torch and a Bunsen style burner for making shellac


Good point Paf I had forgotten propane rather than acetylene.
Regards Hamish

Propane is the gas I have used for 30 years. forgot to mention it.
thanks for pointing this out. Sometimes we forget the little (BIG
things we change)that make a big difference in how things work.
Propane gives off much less carbon as well as soot. So a cleaner and
healthier work environment

I hate to enter the propane / acetylene war, but Paf and Larry are
absolutely correct. Acetylene can destroy platinum. Contrary to the
usual assertions, propane generates plenty of heat. I cast platinum
using propane and have no problem whatsoever with melting 60 dwts of
900 Ir platinum in less than ten seconds. Also contrary to what you
will likely hear is impossible, I use a Smith Little Torch with
propane to easily melt up to 10 dwts for creating buttons to roll or
forge. I fabricate with the Little Torch as well, and it works great.

Keep all carbon bearing and steel materials as far away from hot
platinum as possible. Steel will contaminate platinum like nobody’s
business (I think it’s the carbon, but I don’t know for sure). Never
use steel tweezers or solder picks when working with hot platinum,
use only ceramic or tungsten tools. Firecoat and flux are both
additional no-no’s. They can stain the metal and aren’t necessary.
They can actually hinder the flow of platinum based solders rather
than help.

You are going to love working with platinum, Christine. Like Jo, I
use only 900 Ir Pt, old-school I guess. I call it the Magic Metal.
You can forge and draw a left-over casting button into 30 gauge wire
with no problem. You can cast using scrap sheet and wire with no
problem. I even re-use clean filings (they gotta be really clean
though). Platinum really does work like magic.

Dave Phelps

Thanks for all the additional advice.

Ill be sure to let everyone know how the first one goes. but first I
need to pick up a propane take for my little smith:)