Sterling Silver prices are going through the roof. Since January 2009, the price of silver has more than doubled from $9 to $22 per troy ounce and the upward trend continues.
This has stimulated recovery companies and jewelry suppliers to aggressively search for unwanted sterling silver jewelry and scrap. Companies like Rio Grande will pay about 65 cents on the dollar for recycle sterling silver. While this is better than nothing, why not reuse your scrap silver and recover all of its value?
If you wire wrap jewelry, significant amounts of scrap wire will be generated over time. The scrap wire will be all shapes from square, half round, to round and all sizes from 18 to 26 gauges. And, if you silver solder jewelry, scrap silver is generated every time soldering components are trimmed from flat sheets of silver. In addition (we don’t like to admit it) screw ups creates scrap as well.
One way to efficiently recover this scrap is to convert the scrap wire to solid silver balls. These balls can be soldered around pendant bezels and significantly enhance the pendant. First, cut pieces of the same type of scrap wire into about 3 inch long sections.
For 20 gauge wire, for example, these sections will weigh about 0.6 grams. Individually place these sections of wire on a carbon soldering block. Using a soldering torch melt each wire until it forms a molten sphere. Watch the molten silver carefully and when it takes a mirror finish and is perfectly round, remove the torch. Pick up the ball with tweezers and drop it in water. These balls will be about 6mm in diameter and will have a flat bottom which will facilitate soldering later on. Matching balls can be made by weighing out equal amounts of wire or by using exact lengths of the same type wire. Balls that are too small can be remelted and made larger by adding more melted wire.
Think about different creative ways to use these balls when making your jewelry. The pendant in this photo is a great example.
With silver prices shooting straight up, we all need to develop ways to be more efficient. Silver and Stones is always thinking about ways to use:
- scrap wire from wire wrapping
- scrap silver sheet trim from silversmithing
- scrap work pieces from screw ups
Will you share some of your ideas for reusing scrap silver? Check back later for more examples and check out the links below for some of our other silver recovery techniques: