See My Work with Patty Lakinsmith for the ISGB/Bead and Button Convergence Exhibit

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mixed Metal - A Way Around the Price of Silver!

Yikes! The price of silver has hit the roof! As of today, Rio reported it as 34.72 a troy ounce.  That's actually down from around $36 reported last week, but it's still a shock! When I first started working with metal, I used mostly sterling silver. At that time, about 7 years ago, it was barely $9 a troy ounce.

I admit, I was rather cavalier about my silver back then....rarely worried about my scraps, never collected my sweeps, and recycling old pieces didn't occur to me. Now, you will often find me on my hands and knees scouring my studio floor for that tiny piece of silver I dropped while sawing or forming. And every piece of scrap goes in a container for reuse or to send in for refining. Now I'm looking at old pieces, or things in my "time out" box, for silver I can reuse in some form.

Another thing I've noticed is that I'm not the only one to incorporate alternative metals into my designs.
It's a good way to make an interesting piece of metal art, using less silver, and adding other metals like brass and copper. I've been seeing more steel and aluminum being used as well. I haven't tried that yet, but I'm sure I'll get to that soon.

I scoured Etsy for some unique designs by some of the talented metalsmiths, and thought I'd share them with you. Mixed metal pieces are becoming more popular, and these folks have created some unique and beautiful designs.

This cuff by LittleGreenRoom, shows how combining silver and copper can add an attractive embellishment to leather.

I really love this bangle by BobsBrass ! It's simple yet totally unique, combining several metals.

A cool pendant by lpjewelry! It's a very clean design, using rivets and stamping. The combination is very attractive.

And of course, I personally love combining brass and copper in my designs. It's a good way to way to make a large piece and minimize the cost of all that silver that I would normally use. It makes the designs more affordable for my customers in this current economy.

So there you have it! I'm seriously thinking of trying steel and aluminum next and will let you know how that experience goes.


1 comment:

Pretty Things said...

I've been using steel and aluminum jump rings for a while in place of sterling silver (when it works in a piece) -- I just have to tumble it to get burrs off the ends. My problem is my customers are balking at mixed metals and anything other than sterling, so I have to gently educate them as to why the prices are rising. Sigh. When will it end?

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