I am surprised by the statement that it work hardens quickly. I
have not had that perception, myself. I find the workability to be
I totally agree. I think that it’s probably worthwhile to reiterate
a couple things about Peter’s statement:
(1) it work hardens faster initially, in other words if you graph
hardness vs amount worked (in terms of percentage distortion?) the
ramp up of Argentium is steeper at the beginning.
(2) the hardness curve for Argentium soon hits a “plateau” whereafter
it is hardening noticeably less rapidly and to a lesser amount than
In other words, the worked hardness of regular sterling will soon
pass that of Argentium and (presumably) continue to rise whereas
Argentium’s hardness curve will stay comparatively flat.
So for most of the metal’s working time it is less work hardened than
regular sterling and that is what we care about and what we’ve seen.
The fact that Argentium is getting a little harder a little faster at
the beginning of it’s work cycle isn’t really that significant to us,
especially because we apparently don’t even notice it (I know I
don’t). In other words Peter’s observation is an interesting
technical fact that may not have a lot of real-world significance to
the type of work we are doing.
I’ve done a test where I rolled a piece of Argentium from dead soft
after an anneal right through to the point where it was stress
fracturing itself into pieces simply because I wanted to see how far
it would go without annealing.
I started with a 5 mm x 6mm x 95 mm billet and was able to roll it
out to 2mm square wire before the stress fracturing was becoming a
serious problem. In my experience there is no way that regular
sterling would even come close to repeating that kind of ductility.
For me this was the proof of Argentium’s higher workability than
it reaches a point where it is very springy and unyielding. The
Argentium never did. It was stress fracturing into pieces and it
never hit that same “spring steel” point.
Of course all this means that one needs to adjust their work habits
in order to learn and incorporate Argentium’s different
characteristics but one would expect the same with any new alloy, gold
or silver. (I know you know this Cindy, I’m just mentioning it for
others who have less Argentium experience).
These and other Argentium issues are discussed on my “Working With
Argentium Silver” blog at http://www.touchmetal.com
in The City of Light