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Avedis Zildjian – The Alchemist

Manhattan Gold & Silver has been refining gold in New York’s Diamond District for more than 30 years. We got our start with gold before expanding into the other precious metals. And while 30+ years is a respectable amount of time for maintaining a business, we tip our hat to others who have been at it for longer – such as the Avedis Zildjian Company, which has been around for more than 400 years! While they don’t deal with gold any longer, that’s how they got their start back in 1623.

The company was started by Armenian alchemist, Avedis. In his quest for a metallurgical formula to transform base metals into gold, Avedis instead created a proprietary alloy of copper, tin, and silver. It wasn’t gold (although it does look similar), but it did have novel properties. Notably, a sheet of this alloy could be struck repeatedly to make distinctly booming noises without cracking or shattering the sheet. Thanks to Avedis’ alchemy studies, cymbals were invented.

Sultan Osman II was so impressed with Avedis’ work that he gave him the name Zildjian (made from the Turkish words “zil” and “dji” – which translate to cymbal and maker/seller, respectively. “Ian” was a common surname at the time). Avedis Zildjian’s cymbals were famously used by the Ottoman army to strike fear into its enemies.

The manufacturing process for Zildjian’s alloy has remained a closely guarded family secret for generations. However, musicians (and millions of fans) have enjoyed Zildjian’s cymbals since the company started producing drum kit accessories in the 19th century. With any luck, our family-owned business will be up and running for just as long!

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