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Argentium turns finger blue


#1

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been working with Argentium ever since Cynthia Eid’s
presentation at Clasp 2006 sold me on it, and I absolutely love it.
However, I’ve run into something I haven’t experienced and need the
input of all you wise Orchidians!

I have a client who has only had his ring for about 3 weeks, and the
Argentium is turning his finger blue. Is the small amount of copper
in Argentium at the surface and causing this? I’m going to have him
bring it in and let me clean it and hope it makes a difference. I
read on another forum that soaking the ring in a 50/50 mix of ammonia
and water for 1-2 days will do the trick for Sterling Silver causing
a green finger. Does anyone know if this is a good idea and will work
with Argentium?

I’ve also heard over the years that one’s metabolism can cause such
colorations/ sweating out toxins and the like. Is this indeed true?

Thank you for all of the camaraderie and daily education!

Mariel


#2

Hi Mariel,

You know, I’ve been using a lot of Argentium, too, and recently got
a letter from a guy because he had an allergic reaction to the
Argentium – turned his finger black and caused a contact dermatitis.
Just out of curiosity, which mill are you getting yours from? I got
this particular round from Rio. I am fastidious about cleaning my
jewelry prior to sending it out – I don’t soak it in ammonia for
days, but it is soaked in it for about 30 minutes then brushed
thoroughly, then scrubbed with dish soap and rinsed and dried. So…
I’m just not sure what did it to this poor guy. I had one other ring
do this months ago (again, made from Rio Argentium). The guy works in
the agricultural field, and all we can figure is it was some sort of
chemical mixed with sweat, as he said it was fine one minute, and he
finished mixing something or other, and BAM! His finger was black as
coal. So, I am not sure why Argentium would do this in general, but I
have wondered if there is a trace of copper in it that can do this.
I’d love some input, too!

Jennie


#3

Dear Mariel:

I am planning to take a course with Cynthia Eid in the near future.
Would love to know the outcome of this. Could he have gotten some
kind of chemical under the ring (maybe a cleaning fluid) which is
reacting with the metal? Is he on any medication or medical treatment
(maybe this is too personal to ask him)?

Diane
Dikra Gem Inc.


#4

Could the blue coloration be a problem with circulation instead of a
reaction to the metal? Is the ring just a little tight in fit? Just a
thought. I can not currently wear my wedding band because of humidity
making it too tight. As for the black, I thought I had read that
sulfurs in foods (onion and garlic) and medications could cause a
skin reaction to turn it black. Sulfur is an ingredient in some
pesticides.


#5

Did you heat the Argentium Sterling after the final finishing
processes, to make sure that there is a surface of germanium oxide?
After you clean it, put it in the oven to heat it. If there is a
stone, how about an hour at 150 degrees F? If there is no stone, how
about 250 degrees? Or, if you have not hardened it, 350-580 degrees
for a couple of hours… Also, don’t forget the extra "insurance"
is going over the surface with a Goddard’s cloth—the thiols in the
cloth seem to bond with the metal, even despite abrasion.

I read on another forum that soaking the ring in a 50/50 mix of
ammonia and water for 1-2 days will do the trick for Sterling
Silver causing a green finger. Does anyone know if this is a good
idea and will work with Argentium? 

I’ve never heard of this. I’d be curious to hear what the chemists
on Orchid have to say about that.

I've also heard over the years that one's metabolism can cause
such colorations/ sweating out toxins and the like. Is this indeed
true? 

Yes, this is indeed true. Does this person normally have a problem
with wearing Sterling Silver? I would imagine that he does. The 970
Argentium Sterling has higher perspiration resistance. Currently, the
970 alloy is only available in casting grain, but it is so soft when
it is annealed that it is easy to roll out small batches of sheet or
wire, if you care to try re-making the ring.

I hope this info helps! I’ll be interested to hear what happens.

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com


#6

I would bet it was a plant food he mixed that reacted with the
germanium in the argentium, or the copper in the alloy. N-P-K in
most plant foods will react making a cupric oxide ( green stains on
hands) or turn sterling and even fine silver black on contact with
the plant food as well as rose dust or copper sulfate ( both contain
free copper salts that prevent black spot and other viral infections
on roses, and solanacea species- i. e. peppers, tomatos, eggplants,
etc. in humid areas but ironically cause blackening to silver
containing jewelry articles). Peter’s Professional is known to cause
that reaction. While I highly recommend Peter’s over Miracle Grow
brand- as that product line is far too " salty" for most plants - the
combinations create potassium aluminum sulfates which invariably
leave silver alloys temporarily black and can stain skin if it gets
under the ring, etc. and isn’t immediately washed off before it
dries). Aluminum will cause silver clays to turn black- perhaps
unknowingly the guy had a metals clay ring! rer


#7

Thank you Jennie, Diane, Melissa, and Cynthia!

When I picked up the ring, I asked him if he had been swimming in a
chlorinated pool, in case that was the culprit. Turns out he works
part time as a janitor and doesn’t wear gloves! Aha! Bingo. The ring
was actually in much better condition than I had anticipated, and the
blue on his finger was a faint line, there none-the-less. I
refinished the ring to its prior happy existence and returned it to
him asking that he begin to favor gloves or store his ring while he
works.

Thank you for all of your input. And, Cynthia, thank you for the
extra insurance of a “Goddard’s cloth.” I’d never heard of this
before.

Melissa,

Could the blue coloration be a problem with circulation instead of
a reaction to the metal? Is the ring just a little tight in fit?
Just a thought. 

That is hilarious, I can’t help but think how lucky I am that the
ring fit and his finger wasn’t turning blue and about to fall off! :slight_smile:

Oh, and Jennie, I get my Argentium from Academy Group in
Albuquerque, NM. They have the best prices I could find; I found them
through Stern-Leach.

Thank you all again!
Mariel


#8

Hi Jennie,

You know, I've been using a lot of Argentium, too, and recently
got a letter from a guy because he had an allergic reaction to the
Argentium -- turned his finger black and caused a contact
dermatitis. Just out of curiosity, which mill are you getting yours
from? 

No matter who you buy your Argentium Silver from in the U.S., it is
ALL made by Stern-Leach. Stern-Leach has the only license to make
Argentium Silver in the U.S. The people you buy from are
distributors. (I have, however, heard from a few people who bought
silver that they were told was “like Argentium”----these alloys
turned out NOT to be like Argentium Silver, after all,
though----they had problems, which was why the purchasers contacted
me with questions.)

Remember that there can be lots of reasons for problems. For
instance, one former student wrote to me with concerns about
hardening her AS. Finally, she realized that she’s been clapping her
hands at musical performances, and that the AS ring was getting
clapped against diamonds and platinum! We tend to blame the new
material, but we need to be detectives, and look further, sometimes.
I wonder, for instance, if the guy who had contact dermatitis got
soap caught under the ring. He may need to take it off and rinse and
dry well when he washes his hands—especially if the ring has a wide
band.

I am fastidious about cleaning my jewelry prior to sending it out
-- I don't soak it in ammonia for days, but it is soaked in it for
about 30 minutes then brushed thoroughly, then scrubbed with dish
soap and rinsed and dried. 

The only reasons I can see for soaking in ammonia are to take off
polishing compounds and to neutralize pickle. So, if you’ve already
removed polishing compounds, baking soda would do just as well at
neutralizing, and smell better. If the polishing compound is
removed, then the dish soap and scrubbing and brushing are not
necessary either—simple rinsing would be adequate. I would be
careful about excessive scrubbing, which could abrade the
tarnish-resistant germanium oxide.

I have wondered if there is a trace of copper in it that can do
this. I’d love some input, too! There is more than a trace of copper
in Argentium Silver—Argentium Sterling is about 6% copper. Copper
is what gives the alloy strength. (Compare to fine silver to see how
much farther sterling alloys can be pushed than pure silver when
forming, forging, or rolling.) To avoid having copper on the surface,
which can cause skin discoloration or other reactions, it is helpful
to have heated and pickled several times. Here is a sequence I would
suggest for “ultimate” tarnish resistance: -Heat and pickle several
times (this usually happens naturally during the process of making
something.)

-After any abrasive processes, such as polishing, or filing to
remove solder, heat and pickle again. Ideally, this is hardening in
the oven, but if there are stones set that cannot handle that heat,
10-30 minutes in a toaster oven at 250 degrees F (or less, if
necessary, such as for pearls) accelerates the creation of germanium
oxide.

-Pickle after heating or hardening to remove any copper on the
surface. (Neutralize, rinse, and dry well after pickling.)

-If you use steel wool or a brass brush, be sure to use with soapy
water, so that the steel or brass burnishes without abrading and
without transferring to the surface of the silver.

-For additional tarnish “insurance”, rub the surface with a cloth or
compound that contains thiols, such as Goddard’s Long Shine Cloth or
Polishing Compound. Thiols are a chemical that add further tarnish
resistance. One person I know uses Goddard’s Long Shine Liquid on
his buffing wheel for the final polish.

Note that most of the above is optional. Germanium oxide forms at
any temperature above freezing. Any higher temperature accelerates
the formation of the tarnish-resistant germanium oxide. So, if there
are pearls or amber, even 100 degrees for a couple of hours and then
a Goddard’s cloth would add tarnish resistance.

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com