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From: (Don Wilkins)
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking
Subject: Re: Platinum
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2000 02:44:35 GMT

On Tue, 11 Apr 2000 17:13:19 GMT, (Glenn Lyford)

>,;> 2.  If you know what you are doing, all you need is look at
>,;>the metal, and measure it's specific gravity.   Melting it is
>,;>also a good sign.  Very high melting temperature, very poor heat
>,;>conduction.   Hard to fake.
>,;An additional safety note:  If you attempt to melt it yourself,
>,;please use dark lenses (Sorry, I don't know what shade--anyone?).
>,;Platinum glows very brightly when molten.  A jewler once told me
>,;that people go blind every year trying to work platinum for the
>,;first time...

Gogles for an acetylene torch are OK BUT If you do this you damned
well better have a reducing flame or you will be sorry. In an
oxidizing flame a volatile platinum oxide is formed. Your valuable
asset (or ill-gotten gains) can disappear before your eyes.

Been there done that.

From: "boris beizer" <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking
Subject: Re: Was . . . "What is this metal".
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1999 09:38:20 -0400

Chris Reddie <dv512@FreeNet.Carleton.CA> wrote in message
> As the original poster of this thread, I can finally conclude it for you.
> If you recall, I found a black rock with my metal detector.  Odd in
> itself, but when I sawed it and drilled it, it turned out to be a shiny
> silver inside. <snip> A clump of Zinc.

Now that the mystery metal has been identified, let me inflict my metal lump

When I was a kid working for my father in New York's jewelry district, I ran
an errand that took me across Times Square (42nd street and Broadway -- the
jewelry district is centered in 47th between 5th and 6th avenues -- quite some
distance).  This was an unusual trip because errands rarely took me to that
side of town.  Anyhow as I crossed the busiest intersection in the US at noon,
I spotted a circular lump of dull silvery metal, about 3" in diameter and 1/2"
thick. It was obviously a platinum button.  30 ounces, at about $200/ounce at
the time, was $6,000 which represented full  tuition, room-and-board, at most
university in the US.
        You get these buttons by collecting filings from the jewelers.
Normally, you refine the filings yourself, melt it down in a crucible -- the
button is formed by the fact that the platinum melts down to the bottom of the
crucible.   You might then (as in our shop) use it for casting.  If youi have
too many of them, then you might take it to a refiner to have it assayed and
trade it in for new platinum for a modest charge.   None of these uses would
have caused the button to be dropped in the middle of Times Square.  If the
button had been dropped on 47th street, a hundred ears would have identified
it at the first clink as it hit the pavement.  It would not have stayed there
very long.  But Times Square was far away from the district.  Even though
thousands of people probably saw it, kicked it, and ignored it, I was the
first to spot it for what it was -- who didn't think it was just a lump of
        I took it back to the shop where my father weighed it precisely.
When you melt down platinum to form a button, the first thing you do after it
cools off is to weigh it and to record the weight. It is all part of knowing
just how much metal you are losing -- and incidently to check if any  of the
workmen are stealing their filings (but that's another long story -- never
trust a jeweler who has long gray hair, uses a lot of hair cream on it, and
has a habit of running his hands through his hair).  Anyhow, he weighed it and
went out on "The Street" to let it be know that a platinum button had been
found and where to inquire about it.  Such news gets around the district in
hours.  And most people are very honest -- it doesn't matter if they are or
aren't because to claim the piece they must provide the exact weight-- to the
fraction of a gram.  Equivalent procedures are used for found jewelry, found
diamonds, etc.  Trust and honesty are at the core of the district and if
someone loses something (happens all the time) they usually get it back.  My
father assured me that I would be entitled to a decent reward -- 15% was the
going rate for such things -- This kind of stuff wasn't covered by insurance
because it would be far to easy to scam the insurance company -- so the loss
would have been total.  Anyhow, the next day, early, this guy stomps into the
shop and demands his button back.   He practically accuses me of stealing it,
but he does have the correct weight written down in his ledger.  When my
father asked about the reward, he uttered some obsceneties in several
different languages and stomped out.
        So my father went down to the street again and passed the word
around -- since people asked him if anyone had claimed the button yet.  I
would have rather have kept the button, or at least gotten a fair reward, but
there was some satisfaction in realizing that this guy was subsequently frozen
out of most transactions on the street -- where tens and hundreds of thousands
of dollars worth of gems are exchanged in plain sight on the street and big
deals are concluded on a handshake and trust.
        I've kept my eyes on the ground looking for another platinum button
for fifty years -  no luck yet.


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