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Darkening and tarnishing of Argentium


#1

Hi,

One of my online purchased three of my argentium rings this
December. Now she reports the rings have darkened and gotten
scratched up so badly that the stamped letters are barely visible
anymore. She did use a polishing cloth on the rings and wrote that
the tarnishing does not come off.

The rings are plain bands with letters deeply stamped on the outside
and inside. I fused them together, polished them and tumbled them
with stainless steel for about 3 hours. They were nice and shiny when
I sent them off. My own argentium rings remain untarnished and seem
to get fewer scratches then regular sterling silver.

Could firescale appear on argentium rings that was not visible when I
mailed the rings out? Or is there any other possible explanation why
argentium might tarnish and scratch like that?

Thanks,


#2
Could firescale appear on argentium rings that was not visible
when Imailed the rings out? Or is there any other possible
explanation why argentium might tarnish and scratch like that? 

I can’t speak to Argentium in this regard, but in my experience,
what could cause this sort of thing is a customer who puts her hands
in chlorine bleach and then goes rock climbing.

Noel


#3

require an occasional wipe down with a polishing cloth, and on
occasion I’ll throw the works in my ultra sonic cleaner. Iwear them
everyday and to bed at night. IMHO, it shouldn’t be any more
susceptible to scratches, especially compared to standard sterling.
As far as firescale, I have yet to encounter the beast with this
metal. I confess, I do not have the years of experience of some
regarding its properties… but have been delighted working it. it
is developing into a “best friend.”


#4

I too, had a problems with an argentium ring that I made. The
customer complained that the ring turned black. Indeed it did on the
inside where it touches the finger. I removed the tarnish and coated
it with clear nail polish. A pretty cheesy touch on a nice,
one-of-a-kind work with a 1/2 carat diamond! I was very disappointed
and am steering away from argentium in certain instances.

Brenda Smith
Design Images
www.designimages.org


#5

Birgit,

I make neck chains with Argentium and find that some people get a
thick black almost crust-like build-up that is not like what we
normally call tarnish. It also is definitely not firescale. And it is
thick enough to obscure stamping. And your customer would reasonably
call it “scratched” because the surface of the “crud” is dull and
irregular.

sunscreen and/or hairspray. My guess is that there may be other
chemicals that could produce it.

It is too strong to remove with a polishing cloth, but liquid
tarnish removers will take it off. The only solution to the problem
that I am aware of is to avoid the offending chemicals.

My chains that don’t get near sunscreen and hairspray stay bright
and shiny and people love them.

Vera


#6

I find it hard to believe that you set a 1/2 carat diamond in
silver!

Judith Keller
http://www.judithkellerdesigns.com


#7

Hi Birgit,

Since you wear the same rings yourself, with no problem, it sounds
like maybe this person is one of the rare people whose body chemistry
causes the darkening. The fact that they have been damaged so quickly
could be because she is rough on her jewelry. Or, could it be that
fine silver got mixed in with the Argentium Silver? Do you have both
in your studio?

From your description of your process, though, it looks to me like a
step or two that would help with tarnish resistance are missing. Here
is your sequence that you describe. I am adding in three steps in
CAPITAL LETTERS:

  • fuse them together

  • polish them

  • HARDEN THEM IN AN OVEN, KILN OR TOASTER OVEN

    -Though hardening is not a requirement, it is certainly a good
    idea for rings. Hardening has the additional bonus of enhancing
    the tarnish resistance.

    -Optimal time is about: Two hours at 580 degrees F, or 4 hours
    at 350 degrees F. For temperatures in between, extrapolate. (For
    instance, 3 hours at 465 degrees F.)

  • PICKLE THE RINGS to remove any copper on the surface that darkened
    the finish during hardening

  • tumble them with stainless steel to brighten and further harden
    the surface.

  • RUB WITH A GODDARD’S LONGSHINE SILVER CLOTH. These contain a
    chemical called thiol, which retards tarnish. While this chemical
    works to retard tarnish on all silvers, tests have shown that thiols
    appear to bond with Argentium Silver more tightly than with other
    silvers.

My suggestion is that you add these steps to your process. Have the
client return the rings to you, and pickle, harden, etc.

Some folks may notice that the times I indicate above are twice as
long as what I used to say. That is because it turns out to work
better for cast AS to have these longer times. I’m not sure that it
makes soldered or fused AS harder, but it is simpler to have one
hardening formula for all AS.

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com


#8

Some people have an uncanny ability to tarnish silver almost
instantly. Argentium like all sterling alloys will tarnish. It is
more resistant to tarnish than standard sterling but it will tarnish
given the right conditions. Following Cindy’s directions will give
you the best results in developing tarnish resistance but it is
still possible to tarnish it. Sulfur compounds will always tarnish
sterling of any kind.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#9
One of my online purchased three of my argentium rings this
December. Now she reports the rings have darkened and gotten
scratched up so badly that the stamped letters are barely visible
anymore. She did use a polishing cloth on the rings and wrote that
the tarnishing does not come off. 

My girlfriend can’t wear Argentium rings without turning them black
with purple blotches, while sterling is just fine on her. A fused,
granulated, ring with sapphires I made for her darkened within a
week or two of her wearing it, I re-polished it, and it blackened
again within several days. Other rings I’ve made have held up fine on
other people, including the one I have on now that I’ve worn every
day for most of a year.

This came up once or twice before, and it seems that there is a
small section of the population that turns Argentium black when worn.

Jason


#10

A couple of years ago when I was doing the Ann Arbor show, a gal
bought a pair of earrings from me. She came back the following day
and she was wearing the pair she had bought the previous day. They
were bright silver when I sold them and a day later they were
absolutely black. Astonished I asked her what she had done to them
and she said the PH of her skin turns silver black almost
immediately. I asked her if she wanted a refund and she said No and
bought more??? I can wear silver and argentium silver for years and
it barely tarnishes so I guess there’s truth to it, but I don’t know
of anything that can be done to alleviate the problem and neither did
she.


#11

Hello all,

I’ve wondering why an old saying in my country pointed to the
aptinating availability of the human skin. The people down here said
"If skin darkens silver, something’s wrong with your liver".

Fact is that some people eat lot’s of garlic (and there’s nothing
wrong with that) and onions containing lots of sulfer which will be
present in jour skin and skinmoisture. This is one of the reason why
silver tarnishes on a human body. Living in a very polluted
environment with a lot of smoke and industrial pollution speeds up
this proces too.

I’m not telling that people are using to much garlic or onions but I
do know that this habbit causes the premature patination of silver.

What I’m going to write now is a very sensitive subject so please do
not understand me wrong! Body care and specially for people who sweat
a lot can help in reducing this process. Reducing sulfer containing
foods helps also in cutting downf the blackening of silver.

Some people have a health problem and unfortunately, this type of
people can not be helped with a simpel advice of this kind.

Best regards
Pedro


#12

Hi all,

I was told by a dermatologist that some people whose diets are high
in foods which contain lots of sulphur (such as garlic, onions,
cabbage, and so on) can have a problem with metals darkening quickly.
Makes lots of sense but I am not giving up my garlic!

Cheers, Brigit


#13

Thank you all for your replies.

Cynthia, I will add the steps you suggested to my work process.

The Argentium rings did not come in contact with fine silver. The
only possible contamination would have been from copper or from
sterling silver. I am using a separate soldering pad for the
Argentium, but have not yet added a second set of polishing
attachments.

Will the Argentium rings that I have not oven hardened/tarnish
protected in any way (hardness, tarnish resistance) be inferior to
regular sterling silver rings?

I am getting more concerned about the people who do not react to
regular sterling silver, but have issues with the Argentium silver.

Another customer purchased rings for herself and her boyfriend. Both
get black stains on their skin. The photo she sent shows lots of
black on the finger, none on the ring. I have sent them regular
sterling silver rings to test and both have no problems with those.

I am concerned that some of my buyers might not let me know if they
have problems with the Argentium and assume that I have sold them
inferior metal. Since Jason, Brenda and Vera have also encountered
problems, I am guessing that those problems might have to be expected
with a certain probability.

Is there any way to find out what percentage of the population may
have those issues?

Thanks,
Birgit


#14
Another customer purchased rings for herself and her boyfriend.
Both get black stains on their skin. The photo she sent shows lots
of black on the finger, none on the ring. I have sent them regular
sterling silver rings to test and both have no problems with
those. 

Do you ever find out what kind of cosmetic products your customers
with problems are using? Some soaps and lotions contain fine
particles that abrade the surface of the metal. The fine particles
can look black on the skin surface and oxidize with exposure to
sulfurs excreted from the skin. It can happen with gold as well as
silver. Maybe argentium abrades easy than sterling.

http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/misc/faq/gold-spots.shtml
http://www.hooverandstrong.com/blog/archives/36/


#15

I eat garlic & onions and peppers almost daily, have worn a silver
bracelet for 2 yrs. and get no discoloration. The same is not true
with copper, skin in contact with it turns green but with no ill
effect. Silver is anti-microbial, it’s woven into hunting clothes to
eliminate body odor and it does work well in that capacity.


#16

Just a thought here. Dandruff shampoos that contain sulphur will
darken sterling. I haven’t tested Argentium, but it may react too.
Judy in Kansas where the temps are actually in the UPPER 40s!!
Almost balmy.


#17

I suspect it is chemical(s) of which your client is coming in
contact. I would advise her to remove rings when cooking, especially
with onlins and garlic as one poster points out. Eggs will also
discolor silver, ever notice how the prongs of silverware get
discolored so easily. Also advise her to avoid lotions with lanolins
and she might want to avoid wearing silver with chemically enhanced
lotions like suncreen - although I have never had a problem with it.
Wool, from which lanolin is derived, is highly sulphuric (hence wool
felts are not a good display surface for silver) and causes rapid
tarnishing of silver. Argentium is not totally immune to tarnishing,
only resistant. Good luck.


#18

Don’t forget that some dandruff shampoos contain sulfur - I’ve even
used a solution of dandruff shampoo to put a patina on silver! Judy in
Kansas, where the sun is shining but the temps are still too cool for
the rest of the snow to melt.


#19

Has anyone ever heard of Argentium Silver tarnishing very quickly. My
sister in law had a bracelet that has become very tarnished. Is a
reaction to some sort of lotion or perfume she might use? Does
anyone know if certain people just have a skin type that leads silver
to tarnish?

Thanks!


#20

There is a possibility that the silver is coming into contact with
sulphur, sulphides, sulphates etc… These are common ingredients in
a lot of creams and shampoos, also in a lot of tooth paste.

I have a sulphur allergy, so I take care what I use… I’m also
guessing liver of suphur is out :frowning:

Regards Charles