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 metal recovery companies and jewelry supply companies 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 melt it down and reshape it into a freeform solid silver bezel pendant mounting. Weigh out about one ounce of scrap silver wire and/or scrap silver sheet. Place the scrap on a carbon soldering block. Depending on what type of pendant surface finish you want, the block surface can be smooth or rough. The molten silver will take the same shape as the block surface. If you like you can carve a 1/8 inch deep mold into the carbon block (for example a horseshoe) to contain the molten silver. Use a soldering torch to melt the silver and simultaneously heat a carbon paddle which will be used to flatten the blob of molten silver . Heating the paddle avoids thermal shocking and cracking the molten silver.
Use the heated paddle, to gently press the molten silver to the desired thickness. Then remove the torch and use tweezers to place the hot silver in water for cooling. Solder on the bezel, set the stone, and solder on the bail.
The beautiful turquoise semi rough surface pendant in the photo on the right was made using this technique.
With silver prices shooting straight up, we all need to be more efficient. Will you share some of your ideas for reusing scrap silver? Check back later for more silver recovery examples and check our other silver recovery blogs:
- converting scrap wire to solid silver balls for enhancing pendants
- converting scrap silver to components for a starburst pendant