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#1

Hi fellow Aussies

had a customer come back from Europe. Most silver used is Argentium.

Why are we still stuck on sterling? Argentium is so much better than
sterling.

Get it from A & E metals. The silversmiths I know have stopped using
sterling and now use Argentium, to start NO FIRESCALE, think about
that.

Repeat NO FIRESCALE.

Low tarnish and allergy free.

Get with the program or be left behind. Argentium also looks better
than sterling.

I also know goldsmiths who hate sterling and did not work in silver
because of firescale who now get many sales in Argentium. Did I say
NO FIRESCALE!!!

If you are into superior quality and increased sales Argentium
silver is for you.

all the best
Richard


#2

Hi Richard,

I like what you write about using argentium, BUT? dont you cover all
your silver whilst brazing with flux anyway? by doing this you just
dont get fire scale. Now ive looked at Johnson Matthey Au. They list
Argotect on theire website tho over here in the UK it can be bought
along with all their brazing fluxes from any welding supply store.
Its ideal for all silver jewellery brazing applications along with
their stainless steel grade of Easiflo. Try it its great.

Ted


#3
Why are we still stuck on sterling? Argentium is so much better
than sterling.

Some people like the soft yellow appearance of basic silver.

It has a warm feeling and is -to my opinion- still very attracive
whereas Argentium looks cooler i. e. colder then sterling.

Sterling is a very well knowen name and the reputation of the name
still lingers even when other alloys have better working properties
and longlasting specifications.

For the same reason people by old cars even when the new cars have
more to offer and with lesser pollution.

Call it nostalgia -)


#4

I happen to love sterling and the way it patina’s with age Richard.
:slight_smile: I’ve also noted that my sterling sells well while the
’non-tarnish sterling’ not as well - there is an aura of suspicion
because its not well known to the public here [N. America] as a
sterling alternative therefore not well accepted with my customers.

Aurora


#5

Why not just go with.999 silver. It is so nice to work with and of
course no scale and won’t turn black when worn.


#6
Get it from A & E metals. The silversmiths I know have stopped
using sterling and now use Argentium, to start NO FIRESCALE, think
about that. 
Repeat NO FIRESCALE. 

I still remember, back in 1972, in Fred Fenster’s beginning jewelry
class at the University of Wisconsin, as a sophomore, as he explained
that “other schools may have a problem with fire stain or fire scale,
but here at U. W., we don’t”. He then went to to explain what Prips
flux was, and how to make it, and how to use it to protect silver
from both fire stain and fire scale. It’s cheap to make, and not too
difficult to use, and it simply solves the problem. It’s been doing
so for me ever since. It’s always seemed odd to me that even now,
decades after so much of the on Prips flux has been
spread from so many school programs, that it still seems something
many, especially newcomers, have not heard of. One would think that
when someone invents the wheel, others would somehow remember it…

Look up “Prips flux” in the Orchid archives for a full description.

If the only reason you’re using Argentium or Sterlium + is to avoid
fire scale or fire stain in fabrication, then you’re spending money
you don’t need to spend.

I’ve described Prips flux many times here on Orchid, as have a
number of others, yet somehow, people forget that the problem was
solved a long time ago. Prips flux is used by preheating the metal
enough so the flux can be sprayed on, giving a light coating that
upon further heating, melts to form a protective glaze on the metal.
Used properly, It completely prevents both fire stain and fire
scale, and is a moderately effective soldering flux too (totally fine
if your metal and solder are, as they should be, clean. If you’re
dealing with existing oxidation or dirt or scale, and cannot somehow
clean things first, then you may need additional more active
soldering flux.

Now, casting is a different animal. Casting silver tends to produce
castings that have fire stain. There are ways to deal with that too,
including casting machines that keep the flask in an oxygen free
atmosphere during casting, or methods of protecting the flask in
other ways. That tends to be more bother, or more costly than simply
using a proper protective flux, and for those situation, Argentium or
Sterlium + are good solutions, though not the only ones.

Also, if you’re working with fusing as a joining method, then both
Argentium and Sterlium + tend to work better than standard sterling.
Same thing with laser or pulse arc welding.

And if you really want resistance to tarnish, then again, these are
good solutions.

But traditional sterling silver has a charm all it’s own. If you’re
in the habit of using traditional oxidized patina treatments, then
traditional sterling works better. And traditional sterling seems
stronger and harder, especially for things like forging, raising, and
the like. Plus, pure and simple, it’s less expensive.

And that, Richard, is why more than a few of us, perhaps old timers,
still use and like traditional sterling. I also use and like Sterlium

  • and less often, argentium, but frankly, for fabrication and hand
    work, I prefer standard sterling. It does what I want, no surprises,
    costs less, and presents no problems for me. Why fix something that
    isn’t broken…

Peter Rowe


#7

Hi all

another factor with Argentium is it is low tarnish. Had many
customers say how much they like this aspect of the metal. They come
back a year later and show me a ring no tarnish.

Also they love the look of Argentium.

all the best
Richard


#8

My understanding is that Argentium is 93.5% silver - are folks using
a .935 stamp on Argentium pieces?

Thanks, Kathleen


#9

In my ultra-unimportant opinion, I agree that Argentium is far
better than Sterling at least in functional or practical regards.

I think at least for anyone whoever casts their own silver, they
cannot deny that Argentium is far better. I was amazed at how well it
casts.

It comes out bright white for me, which I can never get with
sterling.

Granted, I’m self-taught and might be making mistakes when I cast.
But every time it’s like night and day. I would guess that for anyone
choosing sterling, they probably don’t do their own casting or don’t
need to cast. In that situation, I could see where they may stick
with traditional sterling.

Rick


#10

Hi all

.999 will eventually tarnish and is too soft for most jewellery
applications.

all the best
Richard


#11

Hi all

Argentium has its own hallmark a flying unicorn. In Australia there
is no 935 stamp so we stamp 925 in an oval as per Australian standard
AS 2140. This shows the metal is Argentium and made in Australia.

I do wish we had a 935 stamp, though. Legally in Australia we need
only use the Argentium hallmark.

all the best
Richard


#12

Hi all

If the only reason you're using Argentium or Sterlium + is to
avoid fire scale or fire stain in fabrication, then you're spending
money you don't need to spend. 

No I use Argentium because as well as no firescale Argentium looks
better than sterling and is very low tarnish. I have customers come
back and tell me how wonderful Argetnium looks after a year. No
tarnish. And they love the colour.

Also Argentium is faster to work so is much less expensive than
sterling at the end of the production process. Rings in sterling
that took 2 anneals, sanding with 600 then 1200 polish with tripoli
then hyperfin now in Argentium take only one anneal and sand with
1200 grit and polish with hyperfin or better blue hubble.

And traditional sterling seems stronger and harder, especially for
things like forging, raising, and the like. Plus, pure and simple,
it's less expensive. 

Wrong on both counts science shows Argentium is harder than
sterling. Sterling less expensive, NO. Argentium works faster than
sterling so the extra 10% in cost is more than saved by the saving in
labour costs.

Why fix something that isn’t broken…

No sterling is just an inferior alloy to Argentium. I say this as
someone who worked in sterling for 25 years and after some serious
study on Argentium and gave it a try and found it superior.

A friend did remind me recently that I did say about Argentium "
Sounds like rubbish, won’t touch it. " Now we both use Argentium.
Give Argentium a try you won’t look back and your customers will love
the look and quality.

all the best
Richard


#13

"But traditional sterling silver has a charm all it’s own. If you’re
in the habit of using traditional oxidized patina treatments, then
traditional sterling works better. And traditional sterling seems
stronger and harder, especially for things like forging, raising,
and the like. Plus, pure and simple, it’s less expensive. And that,
Richard, is why more than a few of us, perhaps old timers, still use
and like traditional sterling. I also use and like Sterlium + and
less often, argentium, but frankly, for fabrication and hand work, I
prefer standard sterling. It does what I want, no surprises, costs
less, and presents no problems for me. Why fix something that isn’t
broken. Peter Rowe I am in complete agreement with Peter. Traditional
Sterling Silver will always be my choice when hand fabricating. Too
bad Stuller only wants to sell what they want us to buy. I can only
imagine the sales they have lost. I have spoken with them about it
and they have no interest in carrying traditional sterling silver.
Too bad, because now when I have an order to place that may include
many other things they do sell, guess who gets my business? Not
Stuller. Are you listening Stuller?

Laura Guptill Jewelry


#14

I use regular sterling when I patina the silver with liver of
sulfur. Otherwise, I am trying to transition to Argentium. I am
confused tho about how to support the pieces if it slumps. I can’t
use binding wire, can I.

Also, I learned to mark with “Sterling, Ag”

Esta Jo. gorgeous weather in Phila!
Shifting Metal
shiftingmetal.com


#15
Sterling Silver will always be my choice when hand fabricating.
Too bad Stuller only wants to sell what they want us to buy. I can
only imagine the sales they have lost. I have spoken with them
about it and they have no interest in carrying traditional sterling
silver. 

Get an account with United Precious Metals. easy enough. As a prime
refiner and manufacturer of only precious metals, they have an
exhaustive selection of all sorts of alloys in silvers, golds,
platinum group, etc. It’s not just a choice between traditional
sterling and Sterlium plus (about the only silver they don’t make and
carry is, of course, the patented Argentium). But there’s at least a
dozen or more sterling silver alloys, optimized for various needs.
They’re less expensive than Stuller for these, with a wider
selection, including wire, sheet, and grain. Of course, any
individual manufacturer may have options some other may not have, and
that may include stuff from Stuller. They carry, for example, a neat
system of wires for sizing rings, with a side profile that matches a
cutter you use to trim the shank ends on a ring to fit the wire,
giving you a stronger joint than a straight butt joint, or such is
the idea. Obviously, United likely won’t have that.

But don’t punish one supplier for the things they don’t carry. No
dealer has everything, and you cannot fault them for stocking the
items they sell the most while not having a big investment in
material they don’t often sell. As a findings manufacturer, they
choose to make their findings in Sterlium +, an easily understood
choice. Not surprising then that they’d mostly want to carry the same
metal. No doubt, there are things they do carry which you will on
occasion have need for. Your mindset shouldn’t be one of punishing a
company for what they don’t carry. rather, simply keep in mind which
supplier is the best source for which types of things you need.
Stuller is great for a good number of items, but not everything. What
they have at the best quality or best price or can ship the quickest,
I get from them. If that picture happens instead to point to United,
or Rio, or Otto Frei, or Contenti or Gesswein or any of the other
many suppliers we may use, then you use whomever is the best source
for what you’re needing. Simple. And if a supplier messes something
up and screws up an order, even a critical one, or gives you what you
feel is bad service on something, well, remember that they too, are
only human, or worse, humans trying to work with computers. You may
have just encountered a single human employee having a bad day. If a
supplier messes up, give them a chance to make it right. Maybe
overlook it in your next opportunity to choose a supplier. Now, if
they mess it up again, or are habitually just downright nasty, then
you may wish to go somewher else. But a good rule of thumb is to
forgive humans and companies the same way you’d appreciate being
forgiven when you make a mistake (and who doesn’t now and then make a
mistake?) (From Lucy, in Peanuts cartoon: “I never make mistakes. I
thought I did once, but I was wrong.”.)

Peter


#16
.999 will eventually tarnish and is too soft for most jewellery
applications. 

No, it can’t tarnish because like 24k gold, oxygen won’t bond with
the metal. I always compensate for strength by making stress points
about 25% heavier. Never once had a set stone pop. Over time and with
use, .999 silver will dull and loose 60% of its reflectivity. A very
minimal buff returns the shine quickly.

Brian


#17
Wrong on both counts science shows Argentium is harder than
sterling. 

Sorry not true, Argentium is close but except in the annealed state
less hard than an equivalently treated piece of standard sterling.

Standard Sterling
Annealed 56-66 HV
Aged @ 300C 120-140 HV
Cold Worked 140-180 HV

Argentium 930
Annealed 60-70 HV
Aged @ 300C 100-120 HV
Cold Worked 150-160 HV

Data from Mark Grimwade’s “Introduction to Precious Metals” from
Brynmorgen Press

In practical terms however they are virtually identical as a
difference of 10-20 points HV is not really significant in use.

Jim

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#18

Dear Everyone,

Let’s all remember how enthusiastic a new “convert” to anything is
---- whether it’s a new tool, metal alloy, a religion, or a new
exercise&diet routine. That may be behind the origin of this thread.
I have a passion for Argentium Sterling, but I also recognize that
we each have different “agendas”.

For me, AS brings many wonderful properties into one alloy, so for
me, it is “mithril”: to not need to use Prips Flux for each anneal
or solder, to be able to fuse and granulate easily, to have great
tarnish resistance, easy heat-hardening, and excellent malleability
and ductility properties. The “quirks” of AS did not require much
change in my routine, so I do not find it “surprising” or irksome.
Other people have different work habits, and different needs. Viva
la difference! Let’s not try to decide which alloy is “best”. Let’s
simply share our knowledge.

Cynthia Eid
Cynthiaeid.com


#19

Hi all

But traditional sterling silver has a charm all it's own 

That charm is that it tarnishes easily, and is so much slower to work
than Argentium. Customers hate the way sterling tarnishes so easily.
Less expensive, come on Argentium works so much faster that the
saving in labour costs actually makes it much less expensive than
sterling.

Perhaps more of you should read the instructions for working
Argentium and then follow them.

You will be surprised at the quality of Argentium vs sterling.

all the best
Richard


#20
No, it can't tarnish because like 24k gold, oxygen won't bond with
the metal. 

Fine silver does tarnish, but not because of an oxide. It tarnishes
by combining with the sulfur in the air, in the form of various
sulfur containing gases.

Here’s an article.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep8211 [PDF file]

Elliot Nesterman