Can argentium ss be baked at 250 with semi precious stones such as
chalcedoney, peridot, aquamarine, ect. I am asking because I know
that the baking is the last thing to be done to the silver ....
As I'm sure you are aware the full answer to your question depends on
the stones in question: some will not be effected by that kind of
temperature, others will. In general though you'll have to be pretty
specific about the stones you use in order to make this a workable
The purpose of my writing though is to address the last part of your
statement, "baking is the last thing to be done to the silver". In my
experience there is no specific reason why this should be true.
As you know heat "activates" the tarnish resistance so generally
speaking the more thoroughly you've heated your Argentium Sterling
(AS) throughout the course of your work the better your tarnish
resistance is likely to be, barring any major disruption of the
metal's surface such as sawing or deep abrasion (and, as always,
assuming the AS hasn't been exposed to dirty bricks, mops, etc which
are often heavily copper "contaminated").
I think the reason that the "bake last" thing came into discussion is
because some folks were not heat treating their AS very much during
the course of their work so, just to be safe, you bake it last in
order to ensure you've got some amount of tarnish resistance.
In my own work I bake the AS at precipitation hardening temps (500+
F) near the end of my work cycle on a particular piece but in truth
the "when" if it depends more on convenience and/or when it makes
sense given a particular assembly process. Most pieces receive at
least a pickle and a final polish after the baking, sometimes much
For rings with cabs, for instance, I've used an AS shank and fine
silver bezel. Just before I mount the stone I do the precip hardening
which hardens the shank but leaves the fine silver bezel reasonably
soft. Pickle, pre-polish, mount the stone, final touch-ups, done. As
you can see it all depends on the piece in question and the procedures
you prefer, or need to, to follow.
The bottom line AFAIK is that there is no good reason why this "bake
last" business should become a hard and fast rule. AS isn't that
picky about it so it's (generally) unnecessary to impose restrictions
in The City of Light