Note to those readers who have not been following this thread from
the beginning: this procedure is only for turning darkened metal
white again. (The wire coil was not clean when taken out of the
pickle.) In this case, I think that the silver darkened from being in
the pickle too long, or the pickle being too strong.
Initially I had the annealing steps in my head (don't overheat,
use paste flux and a permanent marker as an indicator) While doing
so the metal was turning shades of light yellow/gold not white. I
pickled and repeated the procedure several times. There was
improvement. I would say the last time or two I was heating past
an annealed state which rendered a whiter color (which I noticed
Usually, I would find that if the color lightened during annealing,
the pickling finishes the cleaning. Are you saying that it did not
come out of the pickle white?
Cynthia, am I correct in assuming that your suggestion to heat the
Argentium "until it turns white" is beyond an annealed state?
To be honest, when I have done this, I have not put the flux on, so I
did not have a temperature indicator. I’ve never had any problems
with the metal afterwards, though. I think it is best to heat at
annealing temperature longer, or repeatedly, as you did, than to
The troubleshooter in me would prefer to know what happened
although I am glad to have my Argentium back to normal. I trust you
opinion that the blackening didn't happen just from the copper and
Argentium metals touching each other although this is the only
logical explanation I can come up with. Perhaps it was more than
"touching" as I was sliding the snug Argentium coils onto the
copper wire which may have caused some copper particles to abrade
the surface of the Argentium which in turn spread in the pickle?
Well, as we know, lots of surprising things happen when we work with
metal, and, when we are trying something new, even more crazy things
than usual occur! So, it does seem possible, but, I still think that
the darkened color came from over-pickling. This opinion is shared by
both Peter Johns-
the inventor, and Sam Davis-the chemical engineer at Stern-Leach
whose primary job is working with Argentium Sterling.
As for which pickle to use, it would be nice to know which ones
are considered PH neutral and WHY a PH neutral pickle is suggested
I’m not sure than anyone has looked into the PH of pickles. The PH
was discussed in terms of ultrasonic solutions.
Sam Davis pointed out that a too-strong pickle solution and/or a
too-long time in the pickle can turn both traditional and Argentium
sterling dark if the pickle is a Sparex/PhMinus/swimming pool acid or
sulfuric acid type of pickle. Interestingly, citric acid pickle and
phosphoric acid used as pickle do NOT turn silver dark if the silver
I look forward to reading your article in the upcoming (September)
Art Jewelry Magazine! I am not only happy with the mysteries of
working with this metal, I embrace them. Each problem or hick-up
brings investigation, a solution and ultimately more knowledge.
That’s a good attitude!
It is an honor to have advice from those of you who have gone
above and beyond helping the ever growing group willing to learn
about this new metal.
Thank you, John! It is an honor to be able to help in this way.
I wonder if we can buy stock in Argentium? Again my thanks to your
You are most welcome! I am glad to have been able to help.