Thursday, July 23, 2015

Argentium Silver

Today I completed a fun experiment and I'm very pleased with the result!  I made my first cuff bracelet with Argentium Sterling silver.  Argentium combines fine silver with metalloid germanium instead of the traditional alloy of fine silver and copper that is commonly referred to as "sterling silver".  Ok I realize I'm getting a bit technical here, but sometimes it's good to educate folks.  You see, silver in its pure form, like gold, is too soft to hold it's form well for most purposed.  For instance a cuff bracelet made of fine "pure" silver would become bent out of shape and scratched in no time at all. is the case with gold, alloying silver with small percentages of other metals takes care of this problem and provides the silver with work-hardening qualities that make it more durable.  Each alloy has its own qualities.  Traditional sterling has some problematic qualities, primarily fire-scale, and tarnish.  Fire-scale is a discoloring of the metal that results from heating it.  In a piece that involved multiple soldering applications, it can become almost impossible to prevent fire-scale completely.  As my work has developed and I have become a virtual soldering fiend, I have struggled with this quite a bit. I finished this piece, and was ecstatic with the finish and complete lack of fire-scale!  The silver still allows for deliberate oxidation where it is applied, but will tarnish much slower over time and retain a brighter color.  So, now that you know way more than you ever wanted to know about silver alloys, here it is!