How to make an precious metal ingot

The basis for any jewellery project is the metal to be used. Whether you need wire or metal sheet, you must start out by mixing the correct amount of different metals in the required alloy and then melt it to make an ingot.

The most common silver alloy is sterling silver, which is 925 parts silver to 75 parts copper.

In Portugal, the most common yellow gold alloy is 19,2K, which means 800 parts gold to 200 parts alloy metals. The alloy metals in yellow gold are usually silver and copper. The amount of each will change the tone of the alloy. To learn more about metals and their alloys, read this article.

All the metals must then be melted together in a crucible. When they are mixed properly, the molten metal is poured into an ingot mould.

The easiest way to melt the metal is by using a gas/oxygen mix torch but the same can be achieved with a simple butane or propane torch, so long as the crucible is small and you melt smaller quantities.

I’ve made a video to show the process in greater detail, using an orca torch with butane or propane gas – either one works but I use butane gas at the moment. If you live in a cold climate, propane is better.

The pointy bit on top of the ingot shows that the metal cooled a little faster than would have been ideal, which wouldn’t happen with a hotter flame, but it can easily be sawed off and doesn’t prevent the remaining ingot from being used normally.

From this point on, the metal can be thinned out on a rolling mill or by hammering, until it reaches the desired shape.

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