1. Brokers and Individuals Buy and Sell Scrap Platinum
The first step in scrap platinum being converted to jewelry involves the recycling of the precious metal through brokers. After confirming the purity of the metal, people bring their old jewelry to a metal broker. Other platinum containing items that are commonly bought and sold as scrap platinum include:
- Catalytic converters (found in automobiles) contain anywhere from $40 to $200 in platinum content, and can be found in old vehicles at junkyards.
- Thermocouple platinum wire is commonly used (and wasted) in the plumbing and heating industries.
- Crucibles (platinum has a high melting point so it is a common component of crucibles that are used to melt down other types of metals).
2. A Crucible is used to Melt down the Scrap Platinum
A jeweler purchases the scrap platinum from a broker, then places pieces of the scrap into a crucible (a small, yet highly refractory vessel), and adds a small amount of flux (a mineral derived from borax) to prevent oxidation of the metal as it heats. Once inside the crucible, the platinum is melted down with a butane torch, and stirred with a graphite rod to encourage faster melting.
3. An Ingot Mold, Jeweler’s Saw, Mandrel and/or Other Equipment is Used to Shape the Platinum
After the platinum is sufficiently molten, the jeweler picks up the crucible using metal tongs and pours the melted platinum into an ingot mold where it can be stored for current and later use after cooling. The cooled platinum is then progressively reduced into a more malleable, flat sheet using a jewelry rolling mill (the jeweler can control the thickness of the sheet using this tool). From this point a jeweler’s saw can be used to cut out pieces of jewelry into predefined shapes (i.e. pendants), or a strip of the platinum can be hammered against a ring/bracelet mandrel to form a ring or bracelet.
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