Using fine silver would obviously increase production costs. The
cause of firestain on silver is the copper which is used to make
an alloy and to make the silver harder/ stronger. If the copper
was replaced with some other metal then I would think that the
problem would be solved. There is a propreitory coating made by
JM whic can be brushed over the surface of the silver to protect
the silver while it is being soldered, but this tends to run
into pools and leave patches of oxide which are just as
difficult to remove.
I realize fine silver costs more than sterling. However, fine
silver could be processed with mass finishing equipment and
thereby offset labor costs. I hate buffing production work and am
suspicious of anyone who doesn't (grin). I am curious to try the
deplating method you have described. What is involved? What
chemicals are used. What type of surface is left? I have no
plating experience, but would be willing to try anything that is
effective and manageable for production work.
As I understand it the deoxidized sterling silver casting grain
is not quite as strong as traditional sterling but close. At this
time I am not aware of any company that processes any deoxidized
sterling into sheet and wire. I do not know why there isn't, but
am anxiously awaiting. I am sure it will be more expensive than
traditional sterling just as the casting grain is, but so is
mechanically removing firestain.
Thanks for you input and let us know about the deplating process
you wrote about.