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Precious Metal Prices

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Inquarts, Silver & Gold

Inquarts are typically pieces of cut wire that contain a precise amount of silver.  They can be lead-silver alloy wire, or pure silver wire.
In the Fire Assay parting step, in order to ensure complete parting without breaking up the gold button, assay beads containing too little silver must have additional silver added.  Adding this additional silver is called inquartation.  Usually a total of four or five times as much silver as gold is required.  Old time assayers believed that the best alloy for parting contained one-fourth gold and three-fourths silver.  The literal translation of the Latin word for parting, quartatio, is "fourthing"
The well stocked assay laboratory will have inquarts with various weight of silver available to allow for fast and accurate addition of additional silver.  The precision (reproducibility of silver weight) in the inquarts is more important that the exact weight of contained silver.  Typically, a blank will be run to determine the exact amount of silver added.