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Master Alloys FAQs – Bangalore Refinery

Master Alloys FAQs

1. What are Master Alloys ?

  • Like a restaurant chef using small additions of spices to fine-tune the dishes, the jewellery industry uses master alloys to adjust the properties of its products.
  • A master alloy is a base metal such as aluminium, copper or nickel combined with a relatively high percentage of one or two precious metal elements. It is a semi-finished product manufactured for use as a raw material by the metals industry. Jewellery Master Alloys are mainly produced as beads and pellets.
  • Master alloys are used worldwide in Gold Silver and Platinum Jewellery. Specialised equipment such as high temperature induction furnaces are used to produce the alloy composition suitable for the exact requirement of the jewellery.

2. Why are Master Alloys used in Jewellery ?

There are various reasons for adding master alloys to a melt.
  • Composition adjustment, i.e. changing the composition of the liquid metal to achieve the desired specification.
  • Structure control - influencing the microstructure of a metal during the casting and solidification process to change its properties. Such properties include mechanical strength, ductility, electrical conductivity, castability or surface appearance.
  • Some elements show high losses - or poor yield - when added in pure form. Others will not dissolve at all at the furnace temperature prevailing in a cast house. A master alloy often provides the solution, as it dissolves much quicker at lower temperatures, saving valuable energy and production time.
Master alloy fabrication is a truly specialised field. Even small amounts of undesirable elements can result in poor products due to porosity, finish, workability etc. It's necessary that these alloys are made from high grade material with almost nil impurities under controlled environment and melted at the right temperature to ensure uniform mixing. BRPL master alloys are made under highest quality control to assure the best results to our clients.

3. Why should a Jeweller use Master Alloys ?

Precious Metal Jewellery is made in various ways. It can be handmade, machine made or cast in moulds. It is also drawn in wires or stamped with casting dies. It is also made in various colours. Yellow Gold Jewellery is made in multiple shades and shine. All these combinations require the right alloy for the right process, type or colour of jewellery. This can only be achieved through Master Alloys.

4. How many types of Alloys are available for Jewellery ?

There are Hundreds of Master Alloys for jewellery in the market, Using the right alloy allows you to have the right mix of the characteristics needed to make the ideal jewellery piece.

5. Why do we have so many alloys and why should a Jeweller use different alloys for different processes ?

Gold needs specific properties for different type of jewellery manufacturing processes. Handmade jewellery needs, gold mixed with alloys that impart good ductility and malleability. However, if the malleability is too high it is very difficult to achieve a lustrous finish, therefore some amount of brittleness is required to be able to polish the jewellery . In short for handmade alloys need to be
  • Malleable or Ductile
  • Should not be very hard
  • Easy for annealing
  • Easily to polish
For casting alloy it’s ideal that the molten alloy is fluid and strong or hard when solid. This ensures that minute designs are formed during casting and the small prongs are strong to securely hold the diamonds. At the same time it is critical that the cast jewellery should have minimum porosity In short a castable alloys needs to be
  • Fluid
  • Have minimum porosity
  • Hard when cast
  • Easy to polish
In case of brazing alloy, the melting temperature and fluidity of the alloy is very important in addition of the brazing strength and colour. Hence, it's important that the jewellers use the optimum alloy and understand the trade-offs while using the alloys in their processes. BRPL alloys offer you a wide choice of alloys to suit your specific needs and can be customised to your requirement

6. What are the advantages of using BRPL Master Alloys ?

Our Alloys are backed by extensive R&D and very stringent Quality Control. Using BRPL alloys will ensure that you,
  • Get the right blend easily and obtain the optimum hardness, annealing properties, fluidity for casting and malleability for handmade products.
  • Produce your masterpieces in interesting colours like Red, White, Pink and, Yellow without compromising on the workability and quality of the jewellery.
  • Reduce defects and provide consistent quality to your customers.
  • Get uniform shade and shine in jewellery manufactured by your various karigars.
  • Reduce production losses and save between 0.3 to 1% gold.
  • Increase productivity and get a high-quality finish every time.

7. What are the advantages of using master alloys as compared to the traditional method of using copper mixed with silver and some other elements ?

Large amount of Copper makes the alloy hard thus making it difficult to form small designs. Also it's difficult to get thin plates or wires when you use alloys with high copper. The process of traditional jewellery making involves multiple heating due to annealing, soldering, enamelling etc. At each stage copper is lost from the alloy making the percentage of gold higher, thereby resulting in a loss to the manufacturer. By reducing the metal loss at all these stages, the cost of jewellery is reduced and in fact results in earnings due to reduction of metal loss. In addition, BRPL alloys help you to
  • Achieve right colour and finish always
  • Have Better workability and Increased productivity per person
  • Reduce defects like porosity
  • Achieve better finishing
  • Lower the weight of the manufactured jewellery
Moreover, silver when heated or melted tends to absorb oxygen which is transferred to the molten Gold and results in blisters and porosity. This can be easily avoided using our premixed Master Alloys.

8. What are the advantages of using BRPL Master Alloys instead of the traditional in-house alloys ?

  • Most in house alloys are made by mixing locally available Silver and Copper. There are hardly any quality checks conducted to determine the purity of the metal. This not only results in losses but also impacts your reputation.
  • Moreover, if the melting is not done in a controlled environment these alloys oxidize and cause inconsistencies in the composition of the alloy.
  • At BRPL, we manufacture alloys using special European furnaces which allow us to closely monitor and control the process with minimum variations. Our material is directly sourced from smelters having a proven track record of very high-quality controls and we ensure that the silver used is refined to 99.99%.
  • These and many other such quality control measures ensure that the you get Mater alloys of the highest standard and consistency.

9. Master Alloys are very expensive when compared to the traditional Copper mix. Will it make the jewellery even more expensive to manufacture ?

Yes, alloys are expensive when compared to copper however, they still are a better return on investment due to the following reasons
  • Low gold loss during melting processes
  • Lighter weight Jewellery can be manufactured
  • Uniform consistency that can be obtained from all your karigars and manufacturers
  • Better productivity resulting in more jewellery being manufactured in the same available time
Our inhouse tests have shown that gold loss can be reduced up to 0.3 to 1%. This can result in substantial savings. If you add 8 gm alloy to 100 gm of Gold Jewellery and are able to reduce the gold loss by just 0.3%, you will still save at least Rs 1000. The quality of your jewellery will be far superior giving you the opportunity to create better designs, delicate artwork and a beautiful finish.