Identifying argentium silver from sterling

I have been using Argentium silver for about a year now. I love it.
My only problem now is that I was a little sloppy during my
transition from Sterling to Argentium and I mixed some of my
Sterling in with my Argentium.

Is there a way of identifying sterling (specifically tubing) from
Argentium silver? To me they look the same before they are polished
so I was wondering if there is a trick in telling them a part that
won’t damage the sterling (firescale).


Hi Jennifer,

Here is what I suggest:

Cut a bit off of each tubing, if you don’t want to risk firescale on
the entire piece of SS tubing. Sand or file the surface to remove any
fine-silver or germanium oxide on the surface. Then gently heat the
metal with a small torch flame, being sure to take the small flame on
and off the metal occasionally-- to let oxygen get to the surface. If
the metal is traditional Sterling, it will turn black and stay black.
If the metal is Argentium Sterling, it may darken at first, but as
you keep heating, the germanium and germanium oxide do their thing,
and the metal will turn white again. It is important to use a small
flame, gently, wafting on and off of the metal. Too much heat too
fast can make it difficult to observe the color changes. It can be
helpful to apply the same procedure to a known piece of each sterling
alloy at the same time, so that you can match the results of the

Cynthia Eid

Is there a way of identifying sterling (specifically tubing) from
Argentium silver? 

Liver of Sulpher will turn traditional silver black but only give a
sort of dull cloudiness to the deoxcidizing alloys of silver.


Jennifer: I don’t have a scientific method but what I have noticed is
that Argentium silver is slow to react to liver of sulfur while
regular sterling reacts much faster. I would suggest you might try
dipping the end of the different tubes into warm LoS (liver of
sulfur) and pull them right back out. The regular sterling will be
starting to turn(oxidize) but the Argentium will not be. Or if it is
it will be to a noticeably lesser degree. I cannot be more specific
because of the different alloys of argentium silver. Hope this
helps. It is how I sorted mine after doing the same thing as you.

John (Jack) Sexton