Tag Archives: Gold, Silver & Ancient Coins

Silvio’s Workbench – The Art of Vulcan

Wednesday, 4 pm

Vulcan, the god of fire in Ancient Rome. The fact that he is represented by a blacksmith’s hammer, or boldly depicted as a blacksmith, is due to the intermingling of two cultures. The Greeks had Hephaestus, god of fire and smithery. Thus Vulcan, like his counterpart, is often associated with the trades that depend on fire for transforming matter, such as jewelry making.

Today, Silvio searched his scrap metal box for silver pieces he will melt to make a set of wedding bands. Every jewelry project that requires making a piece from scratch means there will be leftover metal to reuse in future pieces. Sometimes, only a small bead is needed to strengthen or embellish a setting. At other times, like today, the scraps will come together to form an entirely new creation. Let’s take a peek over Silvio’s shoulder.

“At first, it’s a lot like the free-form pendants people used to make in the 70’s. And this is how they were made. You can actually control the shape quite a bit. I’ve made some. It’s a lot of fun and some pieces can be very impressive.”

“You can melt fine silver and sterling silver together, but fine silver melts at a higher temperature, so you have to make sure all the pieces come together,” explains Silvio. “You want to make sure all the molecules bind together and that you are not just welding the pieces together.”

It is the same with gold. Fine silver and fine gold melt at a higher temperature than their alloyed counterparts, sterling silver and karat gold. For gold, the higher the karat (higher ratio of gold to alloy), the higher the melting point. “Once the fine silver melts, everything begins to bind much faster,” points out Silvio.

Then, the hammering. And finally, before shaping the pieces into wedding bands, the press.

To be continued…

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