Thursday, September 2, 2010

24k Gold

Last week I had the privilege to be a student and take a class at the Jewelry Arts Institute in NYC. The class I took was in gold alloying and granulation with Jeanette Caines, a charismatic and talented goldsmith.  click here for samples of Jeanette's work

When I think of alloying gold, I think of metallurgy, mystery, sacred arts, and alchemy. It all seems so magical when I melt the gold: I feel a sense of history that links me to all those goldsmiths and jewelers who came before me, especially the ones who mined gold and melted it to pour and hammer into thin sheets. I keep imagining ancient Egyptians crouched next to a stone, pounding the gold with hammers made from granite or agate.

It was a little bit of a shock when I went to buy the 24k gold in the Diamond District of NYC and looking down into the little plastic bag of gold, all I could say was: W-O-W. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”, Michael Toback said to me as I gazed upon the high-karat yellow. “ It is….But really, is that IT?” I wondered aloud as I examined the minute parcel before me. $1300 doesn’t buy you much gold these days that is for sure!

It was a wonderful few days of melting the gold with copper and silver to get 22k sheet. Pulling the wire through a draw plate, to get it thinner and thinner, taking hours, was not so fun. Cutting and melting the wire into granules was a little more fun, but the real challenge came when the gold was to be fused. The temperature to fuse and granulate is so near melting, well, what can I say, it’s a challenge.