Argentium torch balling


I have a technical question about Argentium Sterling that I really
hope some one can help me with. I have been purchasing the wire for
about a year now from my supplier in the USA (Rio Grande) and have
developed an entire line dependent on one of its fabulous qualities.
I discovered that this wire was able to be ‘balled’ or ‘beaded’ with
my torch beautifully and have been doing so for quite some time with
much success. My most recent shipment arrived and one of the gauges
of the wire behaves nothing like what I’ve been getting for the last
year: ( When I put it under my torch-it simply melts and sloughs off
into a gloopy pile. Is this normal for Argentium? Do you know if its
known to bead well? Are there different types of Argentium? My
supplier says nothing has changed but clearly I don’t have the same
product in my hands. I know that its not sterling-it doesn’t turn
black. I’m REALLY concerned about this as I have many orders needing
to be filled and a bunch of silver that is really perplexing me. Any
thought on this would be much appreciated.

Sasha Bell

Hello Sasha,

Is this misbehaving wire a heavier gauge than you have been using? I
have found that while the small gauges (up to 18) ball up nicely,
the larger gauges are not so agreeable. Using a fine pointed flame
does seem to help. We know that hot Argentium is brittle; I suspect
that the weight of the larger ball pulls it off of the hot wire.

Cynthia Eid should comment.

Judy in Kansas, where a c-c-c-cold front with gusty wind just came
through. Gray and chilly.

My most recent shipment arrived and one of the gauges of the wire
behaves nothing like what I've been getting for the last year: (
When I put it under my torch-it simply melts and sloughs off into a
gloopy pile. 

If it just happens to be 20 ga., it’s probably solder that got mixed
up - happens every once in a while. If not, I don’t know…


Argentium balls easily and smoothly. If I have problems with it then
I just dip it into my flux before I apply my flame. It sounds like
you may have received the wrong metal. If it’s not acting like
Argentium then most likely, it’s not Argentium. I would contact Rio
Grande and send it back for a replacement. If you continue to have
any issues with Rio Grande then try ordering from Hoover and Strong.

Good luck,

Sasha: My guess is that you received part of a bad lot of argentium.
I’ve found that jewelry materials suffer from inconsistency problems
that other materials do and for a variety of reasons. Even standard
sterling has its issues…

If anyone ever runs into a situation where a metal or alloy starts
behaving very differently than it has in the past, especially if it
is a fairly simple operation, return that lot to the supplier. It
isn’t a bad idea to test each batch before using it for production.
Make sure the supplier knows exactly why you are returning the

It takes only one part in a thousand of some types of contaminants
to drastically change the working properties of a given metal or
alloy and there are many steps in the supply chain where that can

Yes, the argentium is wonderful to work with. If you can, keep us
posted as to what transpires.

Phillip Baldwin
Shining Wave Metals

I’m hoping that it was just solder because I’ve sent it back twice
now… It does sound like solder now come to think of it- all
soft and gloopy. The tech guy is looking into it for me and called
back today which Im so happy about because I initially was told that
it doesn’t make sense and there’s not much they can do. Anyways,
thanks for all of your helpful responses…what a fabulous
community you have here!


Thank you so much for all of the replies and you are indeed correct

The tech guy at Rio Grande went through every batch and hand tested
them under the torch to see if he could find the problem. And he
did! One small batch has the problem…I’m so glad he took the time
to do this and figure it all out because I was beginning to think I
was crazy when he said that nothing had changed on the production
end, and it wasn’t sterling or solder. I guess they have an
electronic machine that reads what a metal is and although this
argentium wire was reading as argentium sterling…some how the wire
was still not ‘acting’ as it should-not balling at all. Really
strange. I guess it was just a bad lot. But again, I’m really glad
that Mark the Tech guy took my word and went to great lengths to
figure it all out -great customer service:)

Now let the Christmas production begin!

Hi Sasha,

I’ve had this happen to me, too. When AS won’t ball up, the problem
nearly always is oil on the wire. I make it a practice to clean the
wire with an abrasive before balling the wire. I like to use a scotch
brite pad. Also, while flux is not always necessary, I feel that
using it makes the results more consistent and reliable.

Cynthia Eid