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Culture news, 08.10.2003 12:48

Laboratory system of of jewelry examination was presented to the Hermitage

One of the highlights of the Hermotage jewelry collection The company SARTORIUS presented to the Hermitage a laboratory system of jewelry examination. Since 1989, the State Hermitage Museum jointly with the Assay Office has been examining pieces from museum collections made from precious metals, determining weight, type and purity of metals and precious stones.

Jeweler’s examination of museum collections should be effected by so-called non-intrusive methods which do not cause harm to the works of art. Up until now the Hermitage was using tow methods - "touchstone" and "drops". These two methods may be harmful to some objects, such as fragile archeological finds, coins or polished punch, since they destroy the surface layer. Neither do they determine whether an object is wholly made from a precious alloy or merely coated by it. The unavailability of exact information on purity, weight and sometimes even the name of a metal prevents the proper recording and research of great many works of art.

High-precision equipment is required for non-intrusive jewelry examination. One of the devices which allow to determine purity of a precious metal without affecting its surface mechanically or chemically was proposed to the Hermitage by the company SARTOGOSM, whose excellent weighing equipment has been used by the museum for over 10 years. SARTOGOSM is a joint Russian-German venture founded in cooperation with the German company SARTORIUS, which designed the laboratory system of density determination by the method of hydrostatic weighing. The SARTORIUS laboratory system happily combines metrological precision with convenience of control. The equipment design is very simple, convenient and reliable. Measuring results may be checked with the use of a PC. Automatic recording of measurement data is an advantage, because it rules out mistakes which may accompany manual calculations.

This equipment is very important for the Hermitage, because it allows to get the requisite results without destroying the surface of an object.

Its use is vital for the analysis of such fragile and “capricious” objects as ancient coins and archeological finds, the most difficult of which from the viewpoint of analysis are silver objects. Data which will be gained by using the SARTORIUS device together with historical information will promote research and allow to describe creations from precious metals more exactly.

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