Are Platinum Thefts about to Become More Common?

Are Platinum Thefts about to Become More Common?

Maybe It’s Time to Protect Yourself

Have you ever seen the silent movie “The Great Train Robbery” that was produced by Thomas A. Edison back in 1903? Even today, it is an exciting film to watch, showing thieves stopping a train and making off with bags of money and jewelry that they take from passengers.

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How Valuable is Platinum-Plated Silver Jewelry?

Platinum is currently selling for more than $1,200 per troy ounce on the London Fix, while silver is going for a little less than $20. So what sense does it make to manufacture jewelry that is made of platinum-plated silver? And why is so much platinum-plated-silver jewelry being sold today?

Shown: Jewelry and jewelry scrap containing platinum, silver and other platinum group metals like rhodium that our customers have sent in for recycling and refining.

Shown: Jewelry and jewelry scrap containing platinum, silver and other platinum group metals like rhodium that our customers have sent in for recycling and refining.

Perhaps most importantly, how much platinum can be reclaimed from a quantity of jewelry items that are made of platinum-plated silver? Here are some facts you need to know . . .

Platinum Plating Prevents Silver from Tarnishing or Wearing

Silver is a metal that tarnishes (oxidizes) quickly. It is also soft and easily scratched. Platinum is just the opposite – it is extremely resistant to oxidation and so hard that it resists wear. So plating a layer of platinum onto silver produces an item of jewelry that is both tarnish-resistant and durable. Platinum also has a bright white sheen that makes silver even more beautiful.

Extremely Thin Layers of Platinum Are Used

It only takes a very thin layer of platinum to keep silver untarnished and bright, so extremely small quantities of platinum are used as plating. If you have a large quantity of platinum-plated silver items that you would like to recycle with a qualified silver and platinum refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, how much platinum can you expect to recover? It depends on how the jewelry was manufactured; platinum could represent as little as 1% or less of the metal that you own, or as much as 5%. How can you tell? Call us at 800-426-2344 and we can explain how we test platinum-plated items to determine their value.

Rhodium Can Be Plated onto Silver Too

Rhodium is nearly as valuable as platinum. Like platinum, it is durable and tarnish-resistant. So remember that the bright white plated jewelry that you own could be plated with rhodium, not platinum. Testing in our labs can determine what you have.

Jewelers Are Now Offering to Plate Gold, Silver and Other Items with Platinum

This is pretty interesting. If you take your gold wedding rings or other items to some jewelers today, they can send them out to be coated in thin layers of platinum. The result is that certain pieces of jewelry can be given a new, bright look, and at surprisingly little cost – less than $100 in many cases. I mention this today because it is possible that what you think is an item of platinum-plated silver jewelry could in fact be platinum-plated gold or something else. Only testing in a qualified lab can determine if that is the case.

And Don’t Forget Platinum-Plated Silver Coins Too . . .

It is not uncommon to come across quantities of platinum-plated commemorative coins that are produced by private “mints.” You might even find platinum-plated quarters and other circulated coins that have been marketed as collectables. In most cases, these items contain extremely small quantities of recyclable platinum. But if you want an expert opinion about what you might have, call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344.

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Easy-to-Miss Places where Platinum-Plated Metals Can Be Found

If you say the words “platinum plated metal” to many people, most of them will think first of jewelry. That makes sense, because platinum is so commonly used to add a bright and corrosion-resistant surface to rings, pins, watches, and other items of jewelry.

But platinum is electroplated onto other metals for many reasons too – and unless you know what they are, you could fail to recognize some of the platinum-plated items that you could recycle profitably using a qualified platinum smelter and refiner like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners.

Let’s take a look at some sources of platinum-plated scrap that you could be missing . . .

Shown: Aerospace Scrap like this can be an excellent source of platinum, palladium, silver cadmium and gold

Shown: Aerospace Scrap like this can be an excellent source of platinum, palladium, silver cadmium and gold

Aerospace and Aeronautics

There could be big dollars hiding in aerospace scrap. You’ll find recyclable platinum in thermocouples, contacts, gauges, and many other places.

Electrodes

Platinum-plated electrodes are used in the manufacturing of fertilizers, chemicals, explosives and more products than you might expect.

Electrical Utilities and Industries

Platinum-plated contacts and cables are widely used in industries that manufacture electrical components – and in electrical generators too.

Purification Systems for Liquids of Many Kinds

Platinum-coated surfaces are found in devices that use electricity to purify water, oil, industrial chemicals, and other liquids.

Photo of catalytic converter containing platinum, palladium and rhodium which can be recycled and refined for best prices at Specialty Metals.

Photo of catalytic converter containing platinum, palladium and rhodium which can be recycled and refined for best prices at Specialty Metals.

Catalytic Converters

Platinum-plated components are commonly found in catalytic converters that are used to treat the emissions from automobile, truck, and industrial engines. If you’re wondering how to refine platinum from catalytic converters, call us.

Medical Devices

Most people know that platinum plating is used in coronary testing catheters, implantable defibrillators, and pacemakers. Fewer people know that platinum can also be found in cables and contacts that run between pieces of medical equipment, or even within large medical devices.

Shown: scrap platinum sputtering targets can be a surprisingly lucrative source of platinum.

Shown: scrap platinum sputtering targets can be a surprisingly lucrative source of platinum.

Electroplating Operations

It is kind of ironic – but true – that platinum coating is often applied to anodes that are used to electroplate other metals. Used sputtering targets are another potentially lucrative source of platinum.

Want to Know More?

If you have a quantity of platinum-bearing scrap or old metal parts from one of the industries or applications described in today’s post, call us today at 800-426-2344. We’ll be happy to lead you to quantities of valuable platinum that could be hiding right under your nose.

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Platinum Sterling - What You Need to Know about this Precious Alloy

If you’ve visited a jewelry store in the last few years, you noticed that platinum sterling and platinum-plated sterling have become top choices for engagement rings and other pieces of jewelry where hardness, beauty, tarnish-resistance, and durability are required.

How did platinum and sterling join forces to become beautiful jewelry? Let’s learn more.

Shown: Jewelry and jewelry scrap containing platinum, silver and other platinum group metals that our customers have sent in for recycling and refining.

Shown: Jewelry and jewelry scrap containing platinum, silver and other platinum group metals that our customers have sent in for recycling and refining.

A Brief History of the Platinum Sterling Alloy

A little more than a decade ago, American Bullion Inc. (ABI) of Carson, California, created and registered a trademark for a new kind of alloy, Platinum Sterling™. The goal was to create an alloy for jewelry that would be beautiful, resistant to tarnishing – in others words, a silver-colored alternative to karat gold.

The result was a great success. The resulting alloy was durable, beautiful, and much more tarnish-resistant than sterling silver alloys.  Many jewelers observed that while the alloy looked similar to both white gold and sterling silver, it was both harder and heavier.

Beyond the Alloy: Platinum-Plated Silver Jewelry

In the same period of time – about the last decade – a growing number of jewelry manufacturers have also expanded their manufacturing of platinum-plated silver jewelry, especially engagement rings and earrings, in which platinum-plated posts are as tarnish-resistant as pure platinum, yet less expensive than similar items made of pure platinum.  If you search online, you will quickly find platinum-plated silver items made by both very high-end jewelry companies (including Swarovski) and other jewelry brands too (Vinani).

You will also notice that a growing number of platinum-plated silver watches are being sold today, and with good reason. They look as elegant as watches that are made of pure platinum, but in most cases are more economical to buy.

The Marriage of Platinum and Silver Could Spell Profits for You

If you have come into a quantity of either platinum silver or platinum-plated silver jewelry items – or scrap left over from manufacturing them – you could have a quantity of precious metals that are well worth recycling. Call 800-426-2344 to learn more.  

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3 Things You Probably Never Knew about Platinum Sponges

If you use platinum sponges in your manufacturing operations, you already know a lot about them. You know where to buy them, what they cost, and maybe even how to install them in your production machinery. But here’s something you might not know:

Your used platinum sponges can be worth quite a lot.

Here are three of the reasons why . . .

Shown: Platinum sponges like these contain a high percentage of pure platinum which Specialty Metals can profitably recycle for your company. Image Courtesy of ChemicalReagent.com

Shown: Platinum sponges like these contain a high percentage of pure platinum which Specialty Metals can profitably recycle for your company. Image Courtesy of ChemicalReagent.com

  1. Platinum sponges are made of platinum that is almost 100% pure. It’s interesting – to make platinum sponge, a chemical agent is added to molten platinum. That agent foams and makes the platinum assume a sponge-like, porous form as it cools. When that agent is removed, the sponge that remains is nearly pure platinum – in most cases, 99% pure or even more.
  2. Even the smallest residues of spent platinum sponges can contain more pure platinum that you’d expect. Even if you have used scraps and splinters that appear worthless, they could still be worth a lot of money, because they still contain platinum that is extremely pure.
  3. You can receive an unusually large and rapid payback from platinum sponges that you recycle. The reason? Again, it’s the purity. Most other materials that we refine – such as ores, alloys, plating scrap, sludge and other materials - are difficult and costly to process because they are so impure. In comparison, platinum sponge is generally easier and faster to process.

Don’t Let Pure Platinum Slip Away

If your operations produce even small quantities of spent platinum sponge, call us at 800-426-2344. We’re America’s best, most qualified platinum refiners - here to make sure you’re not letting valuable quantities of platinum slip away.

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How Palladium and Platinum Refiners Remove Precious Metals from Liquids

Today’s post is going to sound a little bit like a chemistry lesson, because chemicals are used to recycle platinum and palladium from liquids where they reside.

Most of the time here at Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, we use heat to extract precious metals. This is one time when that’s not the case.

How Do Palladium and Platinum Get into Liquids?

Photo of skids of drums filled used manufacturing fluids containing traces of precious metals that can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.
  • As a byproduct of mining operations – Acidic baths are often used to leach copper, nickel, uranium and other metals from ores. In many cases, the acidic liquid that is left after processing contains trace elements of other precious metals too, including platinum, palladium or even gold.
  • From plating baths – If your operations include tank-plating palladium or platinum onto other metals, your used solutions can still contain valuable quantities of those metals. In some cases, as much as 10 ounces of metal has been recovered from one cubic foot of used plating solutions. That’s a lot of valuable precious metal.
  • From solutions left over from platinum recycling processes – If you employ wet chemical methods to extract palladium, platinum and rhodium from recycled catalytic converters, your used acids and washing liquids could contain recyclable quantities of precious metals.

How Are Precious Metals Extracted from Liquid Media?

It all comes down to chemistry. First, we analyze your liquids to determine the quantities of precious metals that they contain. Next, we introduce the right chemicals into your liquids in the right way – under safe, monitored laboratory conditions, of course. The results can be amazing, as ounces of palladium and platinum precipitate out of liquids that looked like little more than opaque sludge.

Incidentally, Dow Chemical and other companies manufacture a number of high-quality chemicals that are used in these operations. All processing is done in the most advanced, environmentally respectful conditions that comply with all laws.

Today’s Practical Tip . . .

Don’t let those metals go unextracted, because they are worth a great deal of money. Call us at 800-426-2344; tell us what liquids you have. We’ll help you set up a plan to analyze your liquids, extract precious metals from them – and put dollars in your pocket.


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Why Money Can Be Found in Your Used Electroplating Supplies

Does your company electroplate thin layers of one metal onto another? Or have you recently acquired quantities of used e-plating equipment or scrap from another company? In either case, you could have something of value on your hands.

Shown: Electroplating tank scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for the recycling of precious metals at the best prices.

Shown: Electroplating tank scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for the recycling of precious metals at the best prices.

Here are the answers to some questions about how electroplating works and where dollars could be hiding.

Why Is Electroplating Done?

Electroplating can be used to beautify metals or protect them from corrosion. Remember the “chrome cruiser cars” of the 1950s, with acres of chrome-plated trim? Similarly, jewelry and tableware can be coated with silver or gold to make them more beautiful. Electroplating is also used to make metals less likely to oxidize – that’s why “tin cans” are actually steel cans that have been electroplated with tin so that the steel will not react chemically with the can’s contents. In addition, durable metals like platinum and palladium are sometimes plated onto softer metals to make them harder or abrasion-resistant.

How Is Electroplating Done?

Let’s look at the most basic way of coating one metal onto another – in an electroplating tank. First, that tank is filled with liquid, called the electrolytic bath, which contains a solution that contains the metal like platinum that will be used as a coating. The object to be plated is immersed in the bath, and connected to the negative terminal of a source of electricity that will flow through the bath. (In other words, the object to be plated becomes the cathode.) Next another piece of metal – one that will not be plated – is connected to the positive terminal and immersed in the liquid. (It becomes the anode.)

When electricity flows through the bath, electrodes of the metal that will become the plating (i.e., silver) adhere to the object that is being plated.

That basic process can vary, depending on the nature of the metal that will form the plating, the object to be plated and other variables. Sometimes, for example, the anode can be made of the metal that will be used as a coating; electrodes from it will flow to the object to be coated. But even though there are variations, that’s basically how tank e-plating works.

Why Can Used E-plating Materials and Supplies Be Worth Money?

There are several reasons. Let’s take a closer look.

  1. Tanks, filters, mesh screens, piping and other equipment can have become coated with quantities of the gold, palladium or the other precious metals that have been used as platings.
  2. If a tank has been used to apply alloys of precious metals, the “used” cathodes can still contain quantities of precious metals that can be quite valuable.
  3. The used electrolytic fluid, and any “sludge” that accumulated on the bottom of tanks or elsewhere, can contain quantities of the precious metal that was used as a plating.

Want to Know What Your Used E-Plating Materials are Worth?

Several factors can determine how much value you have in used electroplating supplies – the kind of metal that was used as plating, for example. If you have quantities of these potentially valuable recyclables on hand, why not call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344. Tell us what you have and we’ll be pleased to help you claim the hidden dollars that could be hiding in it.

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Why Recycling Plating Tank Scrap Can Pay You More than You Expect

If you work directly in manufacturing processes that include electroplating, you already know how tank electroplating works. If you’re an executive at a company where electroplating is done, you might not know the details. Here’s a review of the basics, because what you don’t know could be costing your company money that the best precious metals recycling companies can add back into your bottom line.

Shown: Photo of electroplating tank scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for the recycling of precious metals at the best prices.

Shown: Photo of electroplating tank scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for the recycling of precious metals at the best prices.

How Does Tank Electroplating Work?

Two metallic parts are immersed in a fluid called an electrolyte, which contains dissolved metal salts and other chemicals that allow charged atoms to pass through it. One of the immersed metal parts is the anode, which is made of the gold, silver, or other metal that you want to apply to the surface to be plated. The other immersed metal part, the cathode, is the part that you want to be plated.

Once everything is set up, an electrical current is run through the tank. That causes atoms in the anode to dissolve in the electrolyte solution and find their way to the cathode, where they adhere.

That’s the basic info. It’s a simple process that has been used to apply metal platings to everything from jewelry to belt buckles for years.

What Kinds of Metals Can Be Electroplated?

Commonly plated metals include gold, silver, platinum, rhodium, palladium, osmium, and iridium. Alloys can be applied via electroplating too. They include alloys containing gold, cadmium, cobalt, copper, and silver.

Why Do Plating Tanks Get Contaminated?

In an ideal world, the gold or other metal that you want to apply would jump right off your anode, swim straight to what you are plating (your cathode), and stick only there. But in the real world of plating processes, it doesn’t happen quite that neatly. The rare metal that you are applying doesn’t only adhere to the piece you are trying to plate. It’s kind of ornery, and tends to adhere to the side of the tank, to drain pipes, to filtering screens, to sensors that are immersed in the tank, and to the walls of the tank itself.

The result is that the tank, and those components, can become plated with residue that contains significant quantities of the precious metal you are using. That residue might not look like the bright shiny gold or silver or platinum that you are applying, but it might contain significant amounts of those rare metals anyway. The same can be true of the electrolytic fluid that you use in your plating; when you dispose of it, you could be disposing of valuable precious metal at the same time.

The result? When tanks, drain pipes, and other components become sufficiently contaminated after use, the quality of your platings can become compromised. Instead of only plating your parts with the precious metal you intend to, other elements that have contaminated your electrolytic fluid can stick to them too. At that point, you are faced with some choices. You could scrub and clean the tanks, which needlessly discards quantities of precious metals. Or you could call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to discuss the used tank scrap and other plating components that you have. We’re ready to recommend strategies that will help you recoup the value in the precious metals you have been using in your plating processes.

How Can You Find Hidden Dollars in Precious Metal Plated Scrap?

You could have traces of precious metals on your tank surfaces, on filter screens, in drain pipes, in accumulations of sludge, or on immersed sensors. And if you use a brush plating process in which an electrically charged metal brush is used to apply precious metal to the pieces you want to plate, your used plating brushes can contain precious metals too. Unless you call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to discuss your used tank scrap and other recyclables, you could be throwing dollars away.