2011 - Buy By Weight: Think Volume

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2011 - Buy By Weight: Think Volume

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Precious metals fineness, alloy composition and bullion cost are expressed by weight and this powerfully affects manufactured cost. Jewelers and silver and goldsmiths order stock materials and components by volume. Jewelry designers take an aesthetic volumetric view; they use shape, dimensions, color and texture but rarely complex design formulae. Five "Jewelry" case studies show where weight percent is not the only consideration. Starting with precious metal clays, the volumetric argument develops to explain some surprising results. Platinum is a highly desirable jewelry material, yet as little as 5% addition can vary the color slightly and change production properties significantly. Does an alloy of equal weights of platinum and palladium act like standard platinum, like palladium, or does it have a character of its own? Electroforming gold produces hollow shapes that appear to be weighty solid gold. One percent titanium in otherwise pure gold changes the production process characteristics and end properties of an item to a suprising extent. It is interesting to speculate how the technology of these processes could further influence jewelry design and production.

Author: Dr. John C. Wright

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