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More questions about .960 silver

Was: Using .950 Silver instead

Hello everyone,

Last time I was wondering about switching to silver that is 95% pure rather than 92.5% pure. I got some helpful answers and one that was particularly useful was from Janet, who alerted me to .960 silver used in filigree in Israel.

I am wondering more about the implications of such an alloy after doing some experiments with it. (Actually I was using the slightly purer .970 silver). From what I could tell, the colour was the same as fine silver. It was softer aswell and didn’t turn black upon heating but didn’t remain bright white as fine silver would, instead it darkened with a thin grey-white oxidation. I fabricated with it and noticed the most subtle formation of firestain, so I am guessing these alloys are much more resistant to firestain but not immune to it.

With this in mind, the only real problem is that it’s softer, however sterling is also quite soft. Since I would have reservations against certain designs in sterling anyway, might I get away using the .960 given that designs where hardness is important, such as claw settings, I likely wouldn’t be using silver at all? Would alloying it to .960 even afford any level of hardness anyway? According to the theory and practice of goldsmithing, .970 Silver has a hardness of 50 Bhn vs the 26 Bhn of fine silver, does this sound accurate?

I suppose what I am saying is that many benefits can be afforded using a more pure alloy at the expense of hardness. However since sterling is still too soft sometimes is there any point using it when you can use a slightly softer but otherwise better alloy?

I apologize for this long, rambling post but hopefully someone can enlighten me on the use .960 silver vs sterling. It is important to note that I do not like Argentium so that is not an option, I am only exited about the palladium bearing sterlings but those are really in a different price range anyway!

Interested in hearing your thoughts,