Materials & Techniques

Alloy

An alloy is the mixture of two or more compatible metals, either naturally occurring or made by melting the two together to form a homogeneous mass. The alloy usually possesses different physical characteristics, such as hardness, malleability, and melting temperature, than its separate components.

For example, ancient gold jewelry was usually made from a deliberate mixture of gold with a smaller percentage of silver. Ancient gold artifacts that have been buried show an enriched surface because the silver and other metals in the alloy react to the acidic burial environment.

Adapted from

  • Kevin Tucker, DMA unpublished material, Gallery text.
  • Barbara Deppert-Lippitz, with contributions from Anne R. Bromberg and John Dennis, Ancient Gold Jewelry at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art in association with the University of Washington Press, 1996), 20.