I looked though the links, but my opinion have not changed. Quite the
opposite, it was re-enforced. Let’s compare properties of sterling
versus argentium :
SOLIDUS is highest temperature where metal is solid. Cross this line
and piece is destroyed. It may look almost the same, but high degree
of polishing no longer possible, low resistance to deformation, and a
lot of other problems.
Sterling - 1450 F, Argentium - 1410 F. Considering that Argentium
hard solder flows at 1450 F - it mean no hard solder should be used.
Argentium medium solder flows at 1378 F, only 32 degrees below
HEAT CAPACITY measured in how many KJ (kilo joules ) takes to raise
temperature of 1 kilogram of metal by 1 degree of Celsius.
Characteristic is important because the higher heat capacity is, the
greater temperature control is possible.
Sterling - 0.2448, Argentium - 0.2439
The difference looks deceptively small. But if one considers that we
work with pieces weighing grams, as opposed to kilograms, the
difference is significant. It makes possibility crossing over solidus
line even more likely.
Ductility and Work Hardening: Fully annealed sterling hardness - 66
to 76 DPH ( Vickers ), Argentium - 50 to 70 DPH Fully annealed
argentium is softer, but look what happens when we start working it.
1/4 work hardened sterling - 78 to 88 DPH, while Argentium jumps to
90 to 105 1/2 work hardened sterling - 90 to 100 DPH, while Argentium
is at 106 to 120 3/4 work hardened sterling 102 to 114 DPH, while
Argentium is 121 to 135 and at full sterling is 116 to 130, and
Argentium 136 to 148.
These numbers mean that Argentium requires annealing two times as
often as sterling. Margin of error in bending and forming is
shrinking. Forging times grows exponentially, and so on. This
property is the most troublesome in setting. Thin bezels reach 3/4
to ful hardness surprisingly fast. It means that if bezel is not
closed on first try, you are screwed, and setting any king of angular
stone becomes very problematic.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just a sample. While
experienced goldsmith can overcome these short comings, it is not
clear to why one should. What is quite clear is that Argentium is not
for beginners. One needs only to scan Orchid to see how many
complains about difficulties working with it, are there.
Argentium positives like lower viscosity and lower density
beneficial for casters. Since I am a fabricator, I simply do not care