Hello Noel -
Am catching up with posts here and didn't notice a response to your
question. So, I will offer a response, as merely one person's approach
. . .
As an example, I have noticed a definite difference with the low dome
sterling wire that I use for bracelets. However, depending on my
purpose, I will use the different suppliers for my different purposes.
The low dome from Hoover & Strong is very nice and has a rounder edge
in it's raw state, than say the wider Rio low dome wire, that has a
sharp edge and requires filing. However, the Rio material for low
dome seems to be softer in the dead soft state - an advantage for
texturing. I do anneal the Hoover & Strong low dome before texturing.
And also, Hoover's material has many more variations of sizes than
the Rio choices. In a teaching situation, for a quick project, I
opted for the Rio low dome - because annealling was not necessary
(saved time and avoids firescale too) and also, in removing the sharp
edge, the kids learned those necessary filing techniques. Therefore,
my only suggestion is to order a smaller quantity from the different
suppliers and run tests. It boils down to personal preference - for
the different purposes.
My next run of experiments will be to test the reticulated silver
from the different sources . . . again! Sometimes, in my unscientific
mode, I get too experimental to keep track of which supplier the
material came from, and therefore will run into trouble - in terms of
putting the correct supplier to the result! That is my current
dilemna with reticulated silver, and so, I plan to order once again
from both Hauser and Miller and from Hoover and Strong and start over
with the experiments. There does seem to be a noticeable difference
in the results from the different suppliers of reticulated silver.
(And yes, I do need to keep better track of the heat factor and the
prepping of the sheet before reticulating too.) Once I get past the
highly experimental mode, it is then necessary to create a more
predictable result. So, on the next run, I will take notes of the
results! As an add on to your inquiry, does anyone have any
favorite suppliers for reticulated silver sheet?
I have found the gold findings from Hoover & Strong very
satisfactory. Also, I have been very happy with the gold raw materials
from H & S - beautiful material. A few years ago, when I was doing
more wire work, i noticed that the Rio 14k dead soft wire was much
softer than the Hoover 14k dead soft wire (which I needed to anneal).
If I'm not mistaken though, the Hoover material seemed to have a very
rich color in comparison to the Rio gold wire. So, again, it depends
on my purpose. Also, I have favored the Hoover gold solders - but
because I am happy with them, I haven't really tried any others
recently. Stuller has been recommended by several jeweler friends for
So, I guess in answering your question - I don't order from only one
supplier for the convenience of pricing. It seems necessary to
diversify depending on the desired result. But, I do plan my orders
as best as possible to get the price breaks for volume purchasing.
As far as teaching discount - I don't know. But as a member of SAS -
Society of American Silversmiths - there are member benefits of
discounted pricing from Hoover & Strong. (I just have to remember to
mention my membership when ordering!)