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Do you recommend Argentium?


#1

Well, maybe I was too hard on Argentium…

I’ve been reading about it and it seems like the only real concern is that it’s hot short. Given how tough of a thing firescale can be to deal with sometimes, would Argentium be a better choice in general? Is there anything Argentium can’t do that sterling can?

I am not talking about using Argentium in a specific circumstance but completely replacing all my silver with it. Does it have good mechanical working properties? are there any problems with it I should be aware of? What are your experiences with it and have they been positive?

Any info about Argentium is welcome. Positive, negative or indifferent. :slight_smile:

ArgentumMoon


#2

Hello AS Moon,
I use AS as the acronym for Argentium Sterling.
Anyway, I began using AS when it first came out - Rio is the source I use. I’ll verify that it is hot short, but avoiding that issue is simply good preparation and planning before the torch is used. I like how easily it fuses. AS also work hardens more slowly than standard sterling. That extends the time/amount of manipulation before annealing is necessary. In fact, I rarely anneal AS as every time it is heated for soldering or fusing, it is annealed. Very handy if you are weaving chain.

I have replaced most of my standard sterling sheet and wire with AS. At this point have only a few things (like gallery and other specialty wires) in standard sterling. There are some items only available in standard sterling, but most of what I use can be obtained in AS. You asked if there is anything AS can’t do that sterling can, here it is. The tendency of AS to slump when heated IS a downer. I do keep some sheet in standard sterling to use when that might be an issue. Otherwise, it’s AS.

Let me rave a bit about AS solders. LOVE 'em. Two great characteristics: they flow at a slightly lower temperature than standard sterling solders, and they keep their color due to the tarnish resistance. Ergo, those black, tell-tail lines of tarnished solder on your finished work are gone. I use AS solders exclusively.

Another nice benefit of AS is that it can be precipitation-hardened. I use a programmable kiln, but if you want to find a used counter-top oven, the high heat will be sufficient. I make some simple 18ga wire hoops, and harden them this way. They retain their shape very nicely…even those in 2 inch diameter.

I’m not the expert on this subject. I refer you to Cynthia Eid. She posted quite a bit on Orchid regarding her experience with AS. Most likely a search will bring up her contributions. Also Rio Grande tech people are very helpful. There used to be a pdf detailing AS use and so forth on their website. Check it out.

Judy in Kansas, where it has been a rainy day. Poor Nebraska has been dealing with flooding, but it’s not a problem here…right now. No one knows what Mother Nature has up her sleeve!


#3

Thanks so much, that is very useful information. Does argentium have any issues with soldering as I read that the germanium oxide layer interpheres with soldering?

I usually use hard solder for everything, but apparently the flow characteristics of argentium hard solder are different, so should I go with medium instead? What do you use?


#4

I’ve also pretty much switched exclusively to Argentium, but most of my work is in silver chains and the like. I haven’t felt much of a mechanical difference; usually I work with dead soft wire, and throw my chains in the tumbler with some steel shot to work harden them. I love it from the perspective of it staying tarnish free for longer than sterling. I made a double rope bracelet for my mother, which she’s worn literally every day for the past several years, and she only got it cleaned once. I might have used the Midas tarnish shield on it as well, but the long and the short is I haven’t looked back.


#5

Does anyone know of a source for argentium 935 and 960 casting grain for rolling, milling and drawing? I want to pour ingots to roll sheet and wire with argentium but don’t know of a source for them. Riogrande sells argentium 935 pro but it is specifically for casting and I don’t know if it will stand up to mechanical working, plus I want to try the 960 formula aswell.

On another note, does argentium classic for fabrication possess the same firescale and tarnish resistance aswell as other properties that other Argentium possess?


#6

I used to work with Argentium, but I no longer do. It is easy to work with for all the reasons everybody has stated. For those reasons I prefer working
with it over sterling. The two main reasons I switched from it 1 - Lack of Argentium materials on the market (like tubing, chain, etc.). 2 - All the pieces turned yellow and became very dull, and not too long after they were made. Number 2 was the real kicker. I found a post here on Ganoksin about it happening with someone else
https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/argentium-turned-yellow-on-the-beach/37808. I agree with a lot of the comments in that it shouldn’t be labeled as non-tarnish. When I make sterling pieces, not only do they appear to shine up better than I first expected they would (upon hearing everything with how much better Argentium was supposed to be at this), the shine stays and I haven’t had issues with tarnishing yet. The yellow film I get on the Argentium would literally happen overnight…I would rather worry about firescale and tarnish with regular sterling, everything to be expected, than have people come back to me saying I gave them false information about the quality.

Hope this gave you a different viewpoint.


#7

I want to add, it is important to look at the comments made in reference to what was posted. You will see this happened with more people, so it wasn’t just some fluke at the beach as what the main post was about.


#8

If that is indeed true, it would certainly be a huge problem. The others who have recommended argentium May comment on thier experiences with this yellow tarnish…

Additionally, has anyone tried the tarnish resistant alloy sterilite? I believe riogrande sells it and a few others…


#9

I know in the comments a guy suggested it had to do with sun, but from my experience this hasn’t been the case. Every time I had to go to a show I literally had to clean the pieces (that were all in storage) with a harsh cleaner almost right before.


#10

The reason I want to switch is because I like to make cuttlebone cast pendants, and the firescale on them cannot be cleaned off as doing so would remove detail. Firescale cannot be removed from certain designs, this type is one of them.

If not regular sterling, what silver alloy is recommended…


#11

I have had no issues with soldering AS - I use Batterns flux just as I would on standard sterling. When using solder a flux is important. Not so much with fusing, although I usually do flux the joint. Belt and suspenders attitude!

Judy


#12

Have you experienced that argentium tarnishes faster than sterling with a yellow tarnish, like was mentioned? If so what have you done about it?


#13

G&S Metals is a good supplier for Argentium casting grain as well as sheet and wire.
gsgold.com


#14

I concur on AS turning Yellow virtually overnight on me. I wondered if it was geographic environment etc., but then I did not wish to worry about my customers in all locations across the country having same or different issues. Thus I use a lot of .925 Sterling. I also use Stuller’s Continuum Silver & love it - stays a lovely white bright and is harder than .925.


#15

As above, Ask them at Rio they are wonderful with all sorts of problems and questions.
Paulette Werger teaches class with only Argentium she would could teach you all you need to know
Michelle Snadler


#16

I finally tried AS wire and I love it. I haven’t used any sheet yet although I did buy some. My only caution is that if you touch the very hot AS with cold (unheated) tweezers or soldering pic, it will crack. You hear a tiny ping. And you say something like ‘Oops’. I said kind of. Haha. Any way, the 20g is great for earring wires because it balls up beautifully.


#17

Argentium is a great metal to work with in my opinion. I do not use traditional Sterling unless I have to. It’s almost as strong, tarnishes very little, better malubility, fuses and solders easily, has a beautiful color, takes better polish, is not overly expensive and is readily available from Rio.it also can be hardened in a normal toaster oven, a big plus. That’s a lot of advantages!


#18

I have used both Sterling and Argentum. I haven’t found the benefits that Argentum brings to be worth the small up charge. It doesn’t manipulate well when hot and it turns yellow. The polished appearance is too white and not the same warmth as in Sterling. Maybe more a matter of taste in appearance than anything else.

Don Meixner


#19

The whiteness is one of the things I am after :slight_smile: however the other associated problems will be what causes me to not use it.


#20

My lack of enthusiasm with Argentum isn’t because it is a poor product or it is not equal to Sterling. It is because it doesn’t meet my needs for the craft jewelry that I make. I came to this decision after trying Argentum in several projects and finding it didn’t work with my process, technique, or for the look I desire in my finished products.

I belong to a number of music and jewelry forums. In each forum we are asked to state which are the best guitar strings, what is the best alloy of gold, how many files should I have. Very often we are asked to determine for someone what is the best “thing” because they are new to the world in which they are looking for information. Its like telling someone what the best tasting beets are when we all know beets don’t taste good at all.

Too many people, new to metal work, look at establish jewelry crafters(or musicians) and expect our answers to their questions to be definitive. I tend to guarded about some advice. I worry that any advice I give will be looked at as the only way. There are more than a few discoveries I have made on my own because they were happy accidents or I was told it couldn’t be done.

Don Meixner