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Wikipedia article

This article is about an older version of DF.

Electrum is an alloy of equal parts gold and silver. Electrum bars can be made at a smelter by a dwarf with the furnace operating labor activated. Electrum is useful for high-value crafts, furniture, and decorations.

One gold bar and one silver bar will produce two electrum bars. One gold nugget and one silver-bearing ore will produce eight electrum bars.

Smelting bars together consumes a value 30 material and a value 10 material to produce two units of value 20, thus producing no net gain (or loss); you're taking a high-value item and a medium-value item and averaging their values. Smelting the ores directly saves you five units of fuel (if you don't have access to magma). Moreover, low-value galena or tetrahedrite can be substituted for native silver or horn silver, producing more value overall than would be generated from smelting the ores separately. Thus, if you have access to galena or tetrahedrite, producing electrum bars creates value.