I read that one can contaminate argentium so to have a designated
soldering pad. ... I feel like I have to buy a whole new studio.
I think you've got the wrong impression about this. As documented at
the Argentium Silver Co. site, http://www.argentiumsilver.com, in
several Orchid posts to date, on my blog and elsewhere the
recommended procedure is to designate soldering pad, polishing mops,
and pickle to your Argentium Sterling (AS) work. So your total layout
to be set-up with AS is likely less than $100.
To put it another way I use all the same files, abrasive wheels,
burnishers, scrapers, sawblades, punches, hammers, anvils, gravers,
rolling mill, dapping tools, drawplates, pliers, drills, layout tools,
mandrels, foredom bits, brushes, knives, tweezers and whatever else
for my AS work as I use for all my other jewelry related work. I
clean my tools when switching metals but that's just good housekeeping
in The City of Light