Are there some tips to doing this that I am missing? Suggestions
would be appreciated.
HI all, After seeing the reponses to this question, I can see why the
person who asked about this is confused about the instructions.
I also appreciate Sessin pointing out that a polishing cloth will
ALWAYS pick up black from silver, even when the silver is clean.
That is not a test for tarnish. Your eyes test for tarnish.
-I think that some of the different times and temperatures come from
the fact that this is a relatively new alloy, so there is constant
experimentation and changes to the recommendations. I keep updating
-A second source of confusion is that we need to remember that this
is an international forum. Some countries measure temp in C, and
Some in F.
-A third source of confusion is that there is more than one "right"
way. That is the nature of jewelry and metalsmithing, and one of the
sources of discussion on this forum.
-Another reason for the different answers is that there are two
kinds of heating. BOTH processes increase the tarnish resistance,
since any temp over freezing encourages germanium to grab the oxygen
from the copper and silver.
If there are no stones at risk, I recommend heating to harden the
AS, which will also excite the germanium, creating germanium oxide,
which prevents oxygen from reaching the surface of the AS, thus
preventing tarnish. If there will be stones, I recommend hardening
before setting stones. Prongs and bezels will be less hard than 14K.
Personally, I use fine silver for bezels in these cases.
if all you want to prevent tarnish, because you had to do a lot
of polishing after setting, or some other reason, you can use lower
temperatures. The longer the time, the more the germanium gets
excited, and the greater the tarnish resistance.
There are are a range of times and temperatures for these
procedures, which allows us to do it quickly in a kiln, or more
slowly in a toaster oven (or kitchen oven).
I will repeat here excerpts of the info that is on the handouts I
give at my workshops, which I also have posted on my website, and in
the docs of the facebook group for Argentium.
HEAT TO INCREASE THE TARNISH RESISTANCE
The higher the temperature, the more excited the Germanium atoms
get, and the thicker the layer of germanium oxide that is formed.
(Germanium oxide is invisible to the naked eye. GeO2 prevents oxygen
from passing through silver, thus preventing tarnish and firescale.)
If stones have been set, then use any heat that is safe for the
stones to encourage the creation of germanium oxide. It is ideal to
heat at 250 F (121 C) for twelve hours, but even 100 F for an hour
is helpful. These temperatures do not usually cause discoloration.
HARDENING is not a requirement for AS, but it is an option that
will make the metal sturdier, while increasing the tarnish
resistance at the same time.
o AS can be hardened by heating for two hours at 580 F/288 C. Air
o If a kiln is not available, a toaster oven can be used for 3 hours
at 428 F/220 C
o The alloy will not appreciably lose its hardness if left in the
oven an hour or so longer.
o Do not enclose the Argentium[tm] Sterling when heat-hardening.
Exposure to oxygen is needed to create the germanium oxide that
o The hardening process will not have any harmful effect on fine
silver, sterling silver, gold or copper alloys that are used in
combination with Argentium[tm] Sterling Silver. Discoloration can be
removed with pickle.
o Should the need arise, the alloy can be annealed and then
o Pickle to remove any oxides formed by heating
o Re-brighten the surface if necessary, by lightly repeating the
final finishing step (lightly rouge, or use an Argentium Silver Care
Cloth, or re-tumble briefly, or brass brush with soapy water,…)
Any chemical normally used to darken silver will work on Argentium
Sterling. Use your normal procedures. It is possible that it might
take longer than traditional SS, or need a slightly stronger
Neither pure silver, nor any silver alloy is tarnish-proof.
With heat however, we can make Argentium Silver highly
ADD THIOL to the surface for additional tarnish resistance.
This chemical seems to bond with AS, to prevent tarnish.
Thiol is in Argentium Silver Care Cloth, Goddards Long Shine Silver
Cloth and polishes, and Tiffany mitts.