– A –
A mixture of two or more compatible metals (or sometimes a metal and a non-metal, e.g. steel, an alloy of iron and carbon), made by being fused into each other to form a homogeneous mass, the resultant new metal usually being harder, more durable and more fusible than the components but less malleable and of a different colour.
Non-compatible metals (e.g. nickel and silver) cannot be alloyed because they will not dissolve into each other.
Some alloys are formed by nature (e.g. electrum), but most are man-made to increase strength or workability, or to alter colour, e.g. a base metal mixed with a precious metal.
Alloys made of various metals and in various proportions to meet different industrial needs are made by refiners and sold to makers of jewelry, e.g. gold and silver solder.