To The Jewelry Symposium Community:
Let me first thank the rest of the board who are working hard on our inaugural event. Secondly, thank all of you for the overwhelming support, both in sponsorships and in the moral support it takes to organize an event like this. I think we all know that there will never be a replacement for the Santa Fe Symposium and trying to reproduce that event is not our goal. We are however, committed to maintaining and building on the family spirit, networking, and information exchange that the SFS brought to our industry.
Re-launching The Jewelry Symposium has been more than challenging, not that I thought it would be easy. I asked many of you about how to improve on our event while knowing we had to work within the budget we could generate. Some suggested wanting to see it stop entirely, but I persevered.
Moving the symposium to a hub city was the most requested change, especially from our international attendees. Traveling to New Mexico added several hours to an extra day of travel. We considered Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York, Denver, and Chicago. The board looked at all the pros and cons and determined Minneapolis as the best location.
Keeping the symposium scheduled the third week of May was second of the suggestion list. This became a major difficulty. Most locations big enough for us were booked already. The compromise was to hold the symposium a week earlier. Our industry is family-based, and the event date is not perfect since Sunday is Mother’s Day. We know this will impact some and they won’t be able to attend. I and the board understand this is the wrong weekend and expect to host the event on the third Sunday in May 2024.
Some have suggested to wait given all the issues hosting the symposium so quickly. We decided it was better to continue with the momentum we had with a less-than-desirable date and location than lose the SFS energy. As of today, we have received considerable support for our re-launch, 17 abstracts have been accepted filling our presentation slots. Eddie Bell will be the keynote speaker Sunday Morning. Jessa Bell has agreed to become our event coordinator. Hoover & Strong, United Precious Metals, and Au Enterprises are confirmed sponsors with several others verbally committed.
I hope to see all of you in Minneapolis in May.
Thank you for your continuing support and good will!
chairman of The Jewelry Symposium
What can happen if trees and castings are not properly cleaned before remelting and casting. ~ Stewart Grice
A customer asked us to look at an 18kt palladium white gold ring they were having problems with. This was a diamond channel-set cast ring and they were finding hard spots which were visible at the casting surface. The ring had been stone set and polished before the defects were visible. This was not our alloy so the exact composition of the casting was not known.
Examination of the ring under a stereo microscope confirmed the presence of hard spots on the shank surface that looked like PGM agglomerations (figure 1). We decided to take a microsection of the ring to see what may be going on. This revealed two different inclusion types present, the agglomerations and also an inclusion that was angular in shape (figure 2). EDX analysis confirmed the agglomerations to be iridium, and the angular inclusions to contain zinc and sulphur, so probably zinc sulphide.
The presence of sulphur suggests investment contamination, which often results from residual investment on recycled castings and trees. If all investment is not completely removed before re-melting and casting, contamination can occur. Our analysis showed that the alloy was grain refined with iridium. This can form agglomerations during casting, especially if there are impurities present, or it is also possible that the grain refiner did not fully disperse when originally made into grain.
A recent problem came up in production with 18kt yellow gold jump rings. The wire department supplies coils of 18kt yellow gold for jump ring production, but the jump rings produced from a recent wire delivery were a different color than expected. The jump rings should be a nice deep yellow color, but after using the recent coil, the jump ring machine operators were complaining that the jump rings produced were “greener” than usual – a completely different color. Comparing stock to the newest jump rings confirmed this. Was there a problem with the wire supply and had the second coil been made from a different alloy by mistake? Had the melt make-up when prepping for casting the rod been incorrect giving the wrong composition? I needed to investigate this further to determine the root cause.
As with all problem solving, a logical approach is best. Tick the most obvious off the list then go from there. I started off by doing an XRF analysis on both “good” and “bad” jump rings to see if there was anything obvious with differences in composition. The stock jump rings of the correct color measured spot on at ~ 75% gold, 10% silver and 15% copper. On to the latest jump rings and something was obviously amiss. The XRF gave results of ~ 85% gold, 14% silver and 1% copper! What was going on here and how did we miss this in QC?
First of all, we don’t make an alloy with 85% gold in it. Secondly, this should have been picked up in assay control if a mistake had been made when mixing the alloy. All material produced must pass assay before being released to the production floor. So again, what was going on? What we must remember is that XRF is a surface technique. The X-rays only penetrate the surface by microns, so was it possible that the latest batch of wire, when being processed into jump rings, was in some way heavily oxidized during processing. This would mean the jump rings produced would need pickling. If this was a “heavy” pickle to clear the oxide and residual pink surface, there is a risk that the copper from the surface would be removed to a point that a gold + silver-rich surface layer remained….which is green gold! To quickly check this hypothesis, I abraded some of the surface from the jump ring and tested this area. Bingo! Back to ~ 75% gold, 10% silver and 15% copper. My guess was correct. It turns out that the jump rings had indeed been oxidized in processing – a cover gas issue with a belt furnace. This meant they needed to be heavily pickled to remove the oxide and pinkish copper-rich surface. The pickling process had removed the surface copper, increasing the relative gold and silver content significantly. To all intents and purposes they had depletion guilded the jump rings.
Problem solving is not about jumping to conclusions (pun intended). Just start simple, let it lead you down a logical path and the cause and resolution should eventually become evident. In the words of one of the world’s greatest – if fictional – detectives…..Elementary, my dear Watson! (Pun again intended!)
First, an ending
~by Gary Dawson
I recently returned from the 34th Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology (SFS) which, sadly was slated to be the last. I had heard about SFS some years prior to my first attendance in the context of something very special and unique in the industry. It was the site of pilgrimage for those in the industry that were not too set in their ways to learn something new. I think for many, it was something to which one aspired and attend with a certain reverence. Attendance was comprised of +-150 of the most innovative and technically minded people in the jewelry industry.
My first attendance came through another industry event. Kraftwerks was a hands-on learning event sponsored by the now closed PM West refinery. Somehow, I had been talked into researching and presenting on the topic of hardening precious metals. Check out a video here to see a small part of that presentation! I don’t remember just how word of my presentation got to Eddie Bell, the organizer of SFS at that time but I remember my first contact with him in the form of a telephone call, which led to my abstract submission, which led to my first SFS presentation.
I eventually presented at SFS 7 times, taking the podium for 45 minutes in a test of pure resolve. I resolved not to fall off the podium, keep speaking, and try to smile while my topic was under the scrutiny of brilliant minds. It was both confidence shaking and exhilarating, but it got easier as the random strangers became family. You can check out the archive of my papers here! I also attended on years when I wasn’t speaking for a total of 11 times.
Each of those gatherings over the years have been special; the intensity of presenting in front of people who are way smarter and more accomplished than I, the reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. And the science! Not to mention the open bar at 5pm when the day’s presentations end and the conversations that followed!
The SFS registration was, except for airfare and hotel, all inclusive; the bar and either catered or restaurant meals were part of the package. The organizers did a good job of providing those amenities.
This, being the last Santa Fe Symposium, the organizer retiring, was even a little more special as emotions built toward adjournment. And then the parting for the last time of a family built during those decades. I know there were a few leaking eyes in the room, including mine.
Out with a bang!
Just prior to the adjournment, awards were presented to a few folks who merited some recognition. I had ridden my motorcycle up to ABQ from my home in Bisbee, AZ and was mentally preparing for my ride back…I think I was looking one last time at the route when I thought I heard my name mentioned somewhere off in the distance. I looked up and the folks at my table were motioning for me to go up front. I was given an award for a paper I presented at the last Symposium. It means so much to me…I had no idea this was coming!
But it’s much better than that!
You’d have to know about the liar’s dice game, often played in the speaker’s suite until the wee hours at SFS to fully get that inside joke. Suffice to say that the rule book has only blank pages! But it really is much better than a sad ending. It is said that for every ending there is a new beginning, and that cliché holds true in this case.
During this past SFS a group gathered in the lobby during one of the lunch breaks. Linus Drogs, a long time participant in SFS wanted to see if there was enough enthusiasm for a continuing event. And yes, there was. The Jewelry Symposium for the Advancement of Manufacturing Technology (The Jewelry Symposium) was born at that moment. Please check out the link to our new website! An ad-hoc board was formed and has been moving forward since then to form a Non-Profit organization that would honor the spirit of the SFS while bringing an event into the new era.
And we’ll see you next May at The Jewelry Symposium!!!