Tuesday, 3 pm
Upon setting foot inside the door, one can hear the screeching sound of packaging tape. Silvio stands at the display, preparing a package for shipping. The workbench is busy. There are special orders we cannot mention, lest a surprise be spoiled. There are commissioned pieces for Santa Fe, on their way to the post office, and there are wedding plans. It is spring.
A customer from Morrisville brought in a Plata Pura coin. He obtained it in Mexico, some time ago. “He asked me to make his wedding band out of this coin,” explains Silvio as he prepares to snap a picture of the intact coin, before placing it under the flame. “Plata pura means pure silver. He liked the idea of recycling his own silver for this.”
In previous posts, we have seen how frequently Silvio transforms existing jewelry into new pieces. This is a variation of the process. Coins can be incorporated in design also, of course, but pure silver lends itself to a wider range of possibilities since it can be re-melted indefinitely.
“As long as a metal is pure,” says Silvio, “it can be melted and will remain malleable, so you can pretty much shape it into any new shape you wish. Fine silver and pure gold are ideal. Sterling silver does not work so well, because it contains copper and sometimes nickel also. Both of these melt at a lower temperature than the silver. They burn away first and the gasses they release as they melt render the silver brittle.”
Fine silver is .999% pure. Sterling silver is about 87.5% silver and the rest is copper and nickel.
Within moments, pure molten silver rests on the melting stone, ready to be shaped. “I am probably going to use about 3/4 of this silver from the 1 ounce coin to make the wedding band, so I will have some left over to return to the customer. It is always best to start with a bit more.”
The wedding band will be an elegant and simple flat, hammered ring.
To be continued… in Part 2.