Good Day valued Orchidians,
I have been working with Argentium Sterling Silver for about 2 weeks
which I purchased from a supplier listed on the
http://www.argentiumsilver.com (reputable). For the past few months
I have tried to educate myself by reading the Orchid archives,
Cynthia’s paper and Trevor’s blog. All are invaluable sources of
on this topic.
Up until today I have had a wonderful Argentium experience, mainly
doing small projects to get a feel for the metal. I have annealed,
fused, soldered, heat hardened, etc. I also did experiments with
Argentium and Sterling mixed. All has been wonderful until today.
I have a separate ceramic crop pot for my Argentium pickle (I use PH
minus/down). I also have separate buffs (tripoli and Zam) as well as
a separate soldering surface for my Argentium work.
Here is what happened:
I made some coils for a new bangle design I have been playing around
with. After making the coils I heat treated them and threw them in
the pickle to take off the slight yellow discoloration that occurs.
I made a prototype of my bangle with COPPER sheet and wire and then
wrapped my Argentium coils around the wire. Once I was satisfied
with my design, I removed the coils and decided to throw them back in
the pickle for a thorough cleaning and to my shock they turned black
(dark grey). Some were just black on one side (where they were
resting on the bottom of the pickle pot). I made a fresh pickle, used
plastic tongs instead of copper and the staining further spread over
all of my coils. I made another fresh pickle with Sparex just in case
the problem was the PH down pickle. There was no improvement.
My question are:
After searching the Orchid archives I have determined that mixing
copper and Argentium is a no-no but would the two metals simply
touching each other have cause this blackening? What if a customer
decides to wear an Argentium bracelet and a copper one at the same
Should I not use copper tongs in my pickle?
I also read that cleaners/degreasers and the liquid used in
ultrasonic machines should have a neutral PH. Does this apply to
pickle? Is PH minus/down considered neutral? Is there a recommended
pickle for Argentium? Forgive the potentially stupid questions here.
Last but not least, how do I remove this staining? I tried to
polish it off but I can’t reach the inside of the coils. They have an
antiqued look currently which is not my preference.
Any advise or suggestions are greatly appreciated.