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Argentium wire oxidation


#1

Hello everybody,

I recently made a couple of pieces using regular sterling for the
base and Argentium wire as lots of added on curls and flower shapes.
I put both of them in the same gallery and they were in wall cases
and there for about three months. I needed to pick them up as I had a
show coming up and both pieces looked the same. The regular sterling
still looked fine but the Argentium wires were very tarnished and the
color of the tarnish was like burnt orange to brown with some grey. I
tried cleaning it up with a toothbrush and some No Name Patina Prep
but it wouldn’t touch it. Finally I just turned on the torch and it
burned right off and the wires were then snow white. I pickled the
pieces and they were beautiful after that. I would love to know what
is going on with this Argentium as I do love using the wire. The
sheet leaves something to be desired in my opinion though.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I don’t want my
customers to have the same problem. I really don’t think it would
have happened if it was being worn but the gallery can’t sell a
piece that looks like that. That is why I used the Argentium wire as
it is not supposed to do this.

Thanks in advance,
Lona


#2

Lona -

I have had some strange tarnish effects with Argentium as well. I’ve
found over time that if you burnish the heck out of it, it will stay
bright and shiney like it’s supposed to be. I do it by tumbling the
silver in stainless steel shot with Dawn liquid soap as the
burnishing liquid. Give it several hours; depending on how noisy
your tumbler is, do it over the course of a few days…

When I took the Argentium fusing class from Ronda Coryell, she
reccommended heat hardening the pieces first, as a way to keep the
silver very white, and make it much harder. Will have to check my
notes, but I recall she said 2hrs at 500 degrees F, something most
household ovens can achieve. (My personal production is not large
enough to justify using my oven that way, so I do not have practical
experience there. One ring that got heat hardened in the class is
still very brilliant.)

best regards,
Kelley


#3

Dear Lona,

That certainly sounds distressing and surprising, to have that sort
of discoloration. I am mystified as to why there was a difference,
but the prevention is the same as the cure that you used: Heating and
pickling after the final abrasive finishing creates a germanium oxide
surface, which prevents oxygen from tarnishing the silver (as well as
preventing oxygen from penetrating the surface to create firescale).

For a thicker germanium oxide, you may wish to heat in an oven or
kiln. 570 degrees F for 45 minutes or 350 degrees for two hours
hardens the Argentium Silver, as well as increasing the germanium
oxide layer. If there are delicate stones set, you may choose to heat
for 30 minutes or longer at a lower heat to increase the germanium
oxide.

You can further increase tarnish prevention by using Goddards Long
Shine Silver Polish—either the liquid or cloth— or one of
Tiffany’s Silver Mitts after the heat treatment. These products
contain chemicals called thiols, which prevent tarnish on all
sterling silver, but seem to have an especially affinity with AS.

I hope this is helpful!

Cynthia Eid
cynthiaeid.com


#4

Hi Kelley

Ronda Coryell recommended heat hardening the pieces first, as a
way to keep the silver very white, and make it much harder........
something most household ovens can achieve. My personal production
is not large enough to justify using my oven that way,..... One
ring that got heat hardened in the class is still very brilliant.) 

Keep in mind that a toaster oven can be used, or you can put the AS
in the oven when you bake or cook dinner (I use a Pyrex dish without
a lid). Since the time can vary from 2 hours at 350 degrees F to 45
minutes at 580 degrees F, you can adjust the time to fit the
temperature you are using.

Cynthia Eid
cynthiaeid.com


#5

Hi,

Here is another possibility about what happened: if a high PH
ultrasonic cleaner had been used, it could have stripped the
Germanium oxide surface from the Argentium Silver. It is infrequently
talked about, but the ph of the ultrasonic solution can etch SS or
SS. You can get ph test strips at pharmacies and pet stores.

Cynthia Eid
cynthiaeid.com


#6

Check out the about the removal of tarnish from
Argentium!

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1jc

Ronda Coryell
Jewelry Studies Intl
Austin, TX