Posts tagged aluminium
Aluminium as a sustainable material for jewellery
Aluminum+mycology+bracelet+before+anodizing.jpg

I first started using aluminium to make jewellery 2 years ago and it formed the basis for my graduate collection last year.  As a material aluminum was perfect for what I wanted to do, it was light, so I could make larger pieces than would be possible in any precious metals and it can be dyed, through the process of anodization, so I could make the large, colourful mushroom inspired peices I wanted to make.

I’ve been interested in the supply chain of precious metals for some years and was interested to know what, if any, advantages there were to using aluminum.

The history of aluminum as a material is fascinating and complicated, and,  like all commodities encapsulates themes of transnation importance, that still effect the lives of many today.


The ideal for me, was to go around collecting aluminum cans etc then melting them down into pre formed shape, with the help of Richard of the Much Hadham forge, to then be worked into jewellery.  Over the last year, since graduating, I have been working to try and make this viable, though have sadly come to the conclusion that it’s just not possible with my level of technology.

Why?


The process of anodization is a delicate one, impurities in the metal will effective conductivity often causing the process to fail.  Obviously when you’re picking up cans from the street, there's loads of impurities like dirt and the dyes and paints used to decorate the cans as well as the different aluminum alloys used by different manufacturers.  Given that the majority of aluminum ever mined is still in circulation, it’s definitely possible to refine the metal and create the alloys that are best suited to anodization for cosmetics purposes (in our case, jewellery) but that takes significant expertise and facilities. 

So what’s the alternative, is there such a thing as traceable, ethical aluminum?


Aluminium recycling process


It is true that aluminum is widely recycled. It only takes 5% of the energy to create aluminum from scrap than it does from bauxite, the ore that aluminium comes from, so a huge proportion of the aluminum we use today is recycled, it is estimated that over 80% of the aluminum ever mined is still in circulation.




Anodized aluminum Jewellery





Aluminum jewellery





Aluminum fine jewellery





Aluminium recycling process