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Enamels - the forbidden metals


#1

I’m interested in your thoughts and opinions about enameling on 18k
red gold and Argentium silver. I have been searching for literature
about the use of these two in enameling and the scarce material I
have found insinuates that there is difficulty involved, especially
with 18k red.

Currently I have done a few one off pieces using only cast depletion
gilded Sterling with good results. I would like to also enamel cast
pieces in the two metals named above but I was hoping for first hand
experiences and opinions before I proceeded.

I’m excited about learning more about this material, since I began
playing with it all these different possible designs have been
jumping around in my head. I haven’t been able to get a full nights
sleep in over a week because I keep getting up in the middle of the
night to go into my workshop to read and tinker. The possibilities
seem almost endless!


#2

Don’t Think the Argentium Silver will work due to the small
temperature window that it has for casting, that if you go above it
it will drive of the stuff that makes it Argentium Silver. So the
temps and times used for enamels colors some would be to high. Its
all in the working Argentium paper in the archives and articles.

glen,

been there, wondered about that and was told that regular sterling
will work just as good, if you put a good coat of wax on the silver
after finished.


#3

I think that red gold is pretty hard to enamel. The excess copper in
the alloy can cause oxidation around the edges of your work. You can
get black lines when you do reds, and such. Some suggest putting down
a coat of a clear to separate your colors from the copper. All of the
literature I have read often seems vague and sometimes contrary. I
think that enameling is as much art as science.

I was looking on the internet the other day for enameling courses
and found a 2 year college program in copper enameling in London. So,
perhaps you might drop them a line. If they teach a 2 years course,
they should know all of the tricks about copper and colors.

On to Argentium, I have tried and it doesn’t have a good fit with
enamels. The enamels cracked a flaked of. The co-efficient of
contraction of the enamal was not compatible with the Argentium. I
spoke with he guy who invented Argentium a couple of years ago at the
MJSA in NY after I had tried. He said that it doesn’t work. However,
there may be enamels that have a good fit. If you check with
Thompson’s enamel you will see that they sell several different melt
types with different contractions. You might be able to figure all of
this out.

Good luck
Dennis


#4

While I am sure other “orchadists” have their own experiences and
suggestions my outcomes were as follows:-

a) 18kt Red Gold, very limited success, I had to “raise” the gold
surface via depletion gilding to such a degree to overcome the copper
oxidation issue that the finished enamelled piece colouration was
virtually identical to say a an enamelled 22kt yellow gold piece. In
the finish I achieved the reddish underlying hue via undercoated
Kujaku Japanese red’s, 105A or 105B. Careful buffing restored the
exposed metal to the 18kt red and the outcome was reasonably
successful.

b) Argentium. I have had absolutely no success with this metal, I
suspect the germanium oxidation at the metal surface is inhibiting
the enamel binding. My outcomes are a consistent litany of failure,
“pinging” and blistering being the most common, irrespective of
firing temperature or enamel type.

I will follow other responses to the thread in the hope that other
more skilled and experienced enamellers may shed more light on the
correct technique, if any, for this metal.


#5
I'm interested in your thoughts and opinions about enameling on
18k red gold and Argentium silver. 

So far, Argentium is not enamelable. The melting temp is too low. I
believe someone is still working on it somehow.

Jennifer Friedman
enamelist, jewelry artisan


#6
So far, Argentium is not enamelable. The melting temp is too low.
I believe someone is still working on it somehow. 

I’m no enamelist but I do know that The Worshipful Company of
Goldsmiths in the UK has done one or two papers on enameling
"germanium silvers", ie. Argentium Silver (AS). According to their
results yes, AS is enamelable, though they’ve documented some
differences in the final colors as compared to regular sterling.

If you’re into the blog thing try entering “enamel” into the search
tool on the right hand side of the front page of my blog
(http://www.touchmetal.com/blog/argentium-blog.html). Otherwise try
these:

http://touchmetal.com/blog/2006/03/enamelling-some-follow-up.html
http://touchmetal.com/blog/2005/11/enamelling-on-germanium-silver.html

Cheers,
Trevor F.
in The City of Light
http://www.touchmetal.com