I’ve noticed the discussion on 24 gold jewelry and how soft it is –
yet still marketable. Isn’t fine silver just as soft? Could someone
comment on how to use fine silver in designs – what type of design to
stay away from, esp what would be a minimum thickness of sheet to use?
Hi Susan, I’ve been fabricating “Fine” silver jewelry for approx. 25
years, back when I was told, “it can’t be done” or “Fine” silver
can’t function as jewelry." The following is what I have learned the
hard way: Fabricate, don’t cast. Use at least 24 gauge sheet for
earrings, & 20 for rings. Workharden (with a hammer) every piece
before you send it out. Heat hardening never worked for me. Avoid
"fretwork" or “filigree.” Use every show you do as a forum to educate
the public on “Fine” silver’s beauty, & it’s sturdiness. If you have
more questions, please contact me offline. Good Luck! Helene P.S. I
also work in 24 kt. gold.
Could someone comment on how to use fine silver in designs --
what type of design to stay away from, esp what would be a minimum
thickness of sheet to use?
Hi Susan. Yes I use fine a lot, and so do many other jewellers I hang
out with. I suggest you get some and list the things it does well, snd
list the things it’s not so good at. Then design with its strengths.
I use it for its colour and for its low tarnish. I have an earring
design on my site called ‘Sputnik’ http://www.adam.co.nz/jewellery/images/smaxi.jpg that uses a
planished 999sil low-domed disc as a reflector behind a smaller disc
of another (colourful) media. The reflections add a lot to the piece.
The other silver parts in the design are made from 925sil for its
relative hardness and rigidity.
I also do Tree Trunk Rings from 999 where the silver is poured into a
wooden mold http://www.adam.co.nz/jewellery/ and worn straight away.
Why 999 for this design? Hmmm. Okay answer me this: I think it’s such
a suitable chunky shape that fine silver can handle it, so why alloy
up some sterling for this ring? It doesn’t need the higher detail
casting qualities of stg, nor need the strength of stg.
I mostly use the fine silver wire, 26-30 to crochet the jewelry i
do…and have not had any problems. seems like the tarnish factor is
less, and now i store each piece in a small plastic bag, with a
square of aluminum foil. if i haven’t stored the wire on the spool
right, and it has a tarnish on the top layer, it is removed while i
work it…course then my fingers stay tarnished…
Hi! Very excited to see this conversation! I have been seeking alternatives to sterling, have been contemplating .999 and see this now sounds possible for jewellery. I hand fabricate all my work and use .60 mm or 22 gauge 925 plate for pendants and earrings. They are usually textured with a hammer and formed into shapes (foldformed and other filed bends) so they are annealed a few times and the filed bends (3-10) are soldered. Then earwires or bales are attached. If soldered pieces are not quenched, does .999 retain rigidity like sterling? If hammering isn’t used to texture or harden, to have a smooth high polish finish how would .999 be hardened in this case? Tumbling?
Also I am working on rings that are about 1.8 mm or 13 gauge plate, will a textured finish work to work harden a .999 of this gauge, or perhaps it is hard because of the thickness? If I solder on bezels after, should they be in 925 or .999? Are the seams very visible over time? Looking forward to making pieces I can high polish without fighting off firescale! Many thanks, Nicolina
I tried using fine silver for a while before the tarnish resistant silver alloys came on the market. You will be better served by them as far as tarnish and durability is concerned. The only silver I would use for a prong setting is the continuum by Stuller and even then prongs need to be heavier than you can do in white or yellow gold. The heaviness of shanks is also a factor. Build everything a little beefier than you would see in gold.
Hi Wade, Thank you for that! Did you find fine silver does tarnish or perhaps the solder does over time? Do you find the anti-tarnish silver more resistant to firescale or more so? My main concern is the thin metal I use with the multiple heatings. Have you ever tried Arctic Fox Anti Tarnish Silver (Here in Canada, from Umicore)? This seems to be the only one available easily in Canada I have found so far. Thanks again!
Pure silver will most certainly tarnish. Many on here like argentium. I prefer sterlium and continuum from Stuller. All of the germanium alloyed silvers are anti tarnish and don’t fire scale. They do tarnish just more slowly. Continuum is a silver and palladium alloy and is harder than the others.
Very interesting! I don’t want to get into Argentium at this point so I like the sound of these alloys. Do you think it would be strong enough for a ring shank in 1.8 mm or 13 gauge? Do you make bezels and earwire from this also? Are you using 925 solder on this? Do the seams tarnish visibly over time?
I use sterling silver and find that it is itself too soft for many things, so I would personally never change to using fine silver, which is even softer. As mentioned, you can use a firestain-resistant sterling, or use a decent firecoat flux such as homemade Prips or a commercial equivalent. If memory serves, Cupronil is one of them.
13 gauge would be fine for a ring shank. I don’t solder on it much. When I do it is with regular silver solder. I have to assume that the solder joints will tarnish faster. I am making cuff bracelets and bar necklaces out of it. I cast with it as well. When I size one of the castings it is with regular silver solder. but I don’t notice a big problem with the solder seam tarnishing more. I buy ear wires from stuller that are made from sterlium.
Thank you! I am reading about it now. Do you use the Sterillum over the Continuum? Or do you find each has a special use? So far these are sounding better, I would rather have a little solder tarnish than firescale!
To answer the original question, fine silver is not recommended to use as it is for a ring. It is a way to soft and can’t be hardened enough. That’s the reason why small amounts of copper are added to pure silver. It will work harden the alloy much quicker making it wearable. By using copper one can use the participation process aswell to harden the silver alloy.
Fine silver is a dream to set stones with. However, it will wear in time much faster then sterling silver.
Working with fine silver and opals is a perfect combination. Not as much vor rings but it is perfect for making pendants and necklaces.
Pure silver as it is will tarnish, period.
It’s a reaction of silver and sulfur,.not oxygen.
Sulfur is an abundant element in the air (car exhaust gas, industry air pollution, vulcano’s…), in your sweat and food aswell (onions, eggs, garlic etc). Any layer prevending the contact of silver and sulfur will keep you silver from blackening.
I live in Canada, also, and buy my silver from the States. There is no
customs or duty on product manufactured in the States. I buy Argentium for
my handmade chains, earwires & use Sterling Silver for rings, pendants,
bangles. Don’t be put off from buying supplies from the States.
I use sterlium most of the time. Continuum is more expensive but I have been test marketing it and have done some pieces to hand out to my family so I can see some real world results. I have been doing these bracelets in continuum because I like the hardness.
I have been using Argentium for 7 years now. It is wonderful for making
chains with, no solder, just fuse the links together. I even make
chainmaille with Argentium & fuse all my links closed. It stays tarnish
free for a long, long time. I have a working studio space in an art centre
where I can also sell my jewelry. I strictly work in silver & have a high
turnover. I have customers who love the fact that my earwires are
Argentium. They find it easier to wear than sterling silver. I still use
sterling silver for rings, bangles, pendants. Argentium sheet likes to
slump so this is why I choose sterling silver for these items. I never pay
duty or customs on anything I order from the States so, living on an
island, I have to purchase everything I need from elsewhere anyhow so might
as well be from the States where selection & price is much, much better
than purchasing in Canada.