I'd like to share this post that I wrote on my experiences with
Argentium 960, and sent, unsolicited, to Argentium International.
Have you tried the high purity, Argentium 960 alloy? You should,
especially since, at least in the United States, it can be purchased
in small, by the ounce lots, and you can see how you like it with
little out-of-pocket cost.
Many of Argentium's properties are only of direct interest to the
craftsperson. For example, having clean castings, completely free of
fire stain, is a huge boon to manufacturing, but of no interest to
the end purchaser. This quality alone makes it superior to all other
silvers, and, though this attribute results in a better product, few
end users might understand it or care. This "bench, but not sales
counter" benefit is the case for both 935 and 960 alloys. On the
other hand, just as with Argentium's tarnish resistance, a customer
can easily see added value in jewelry made in a purer metal.
Argentium 960 nearly halves the non-silver content of sterling.
Surpassing Britain's Britannia standard, it is remarkably close to
fine silver, yet it has all of the same qualities that make standard
Argentium superior to standard sterling - and the other new silvers.
Not now. Let's put old rumors to rest. Argentium Silver is a young
alloy, and today's top performing, higher purity mix has emerged
from a short but profound evolution. 970 was the alloy I first read
of, but it was off market. Then I got my hands on the first version
of 960 and though I found it exciting and promising, there were some
stubborn and disappointing problems which I couldn't eliminate. Then
Argentium International licensed production to Legor as a new
partner and simultaneously adjusted the receipe to today's
spectacular 960. I have nothing but praise for this metal; it is a
dream to work with.
How do 935 and 960 compare?
Compared to 935, I can see even more of Argentium's whiteness and
brightness in the 960 casting grain. For silver work, as a bench
jeweler and small manufacturer, I have settled in on this single
metal, so can make scant comparison of the two alloys. It does what
I ask. I have played with fusing (though not applying this technique
to my line), and have found that while the 960 alloy fuses, it seems
to have a small working window. Out of curiosity, I then tried some
935 and found the process much easier. So I see a difference there.
The only disadvantage that I have found concerns some aspects of
supply. If we need an amount less than Legor's minimum order of
sixty ounces, we can buy 960 grain from G&S Metals in the United
States - no problem. However, no one produces any mill stock for
resale. I have ideas for fabricated pieces that would be easy to
produce in 935, but will just stay in my long time casting niche
because I want my entire line in 960.
There's an easy solution to getting wire, though. Although Argentium
960 (Pro) is made for casting, (this is the alloy that G&S Metals
carries), it draws beautifully into wire and can easily be produced
in a small shop.
There's not much cost difference to make that .025 increase from 935
to 960. So, showing off your work by adding that little bling of
high purity, and highlighting the care that you put into it and all
its details, has a very small price tag. As of this writing, the
added cost, at single ounce pricing, is less than 3%.
Why I chose Agentium 960
I remember first reading about Argentium Silver, and being just
blown away as I read of one advantage after another. Already sold on
its many appealing benefits, the clincher was the prospect that I
could possibly give it enough spring for my specific needs through
hardening, and translate my gold tension settings into cast silver.
That was something not possible with other silvers. At the bottom of
Argentium's list of desirable qualities was an option - high purity.
Of the two Argentium silvers, cast 960 was the less likely candidate
for producing successful tension settings, so I tested the limits by
starting there. It performed as I had hoped, developing enough
spring for me to produce the work I most love. Picking up the unique
high purity option became the frosting on the cake.
If you haven't tried Argentium 960 yet, now is a good time to
consider it. It was a natural choice for me. Perhaps it will be for
you as well.