A nearby jewelry store sends people to me all the time for silver
repairs. Business is slow enough around here that I suppose I
shouldn’t do anything to irritate them. Unfortunately, they have this
notion that I ‘only’ work in silver.
Anyway, one of the sales clerks called me to ask if I knew of a
source for palladium sterling silver, since they had a customer in
there who didn’t want nickel sterling silver. I told her that copper,
not nickel was alloyed with silver for sterling.
No, she told me, it was nickel; she had read it somewhere (in a tone
that said I didn’t know what I was talking about).
Hmm, I said, I’d seen a lot of phase diagrams for sterling silver in
my metallurgy/materials class when I was getting my engineering
degree, and that I’d never seen a phase diagram for nickel and
silver to produce sterling. Perhaps she was thinking of white gold,
or coin silver? And that there is in fact palladium white gold for
people who don’t want nickel white gold.
We ended the conversation with my reputation somewhat (shall I say
it?) tarnished in her eyes, since I clearly didn’t know squat about
metals. (I’m going to guess she had heard the term “nickel silver"
before and assumed that referred to sterling silver. And I know that
"German silver” = nickel = “nickel silver” != sterling silver)
Am I wrong about sterling? I know that 92.5% must be pure silver,
and that the rest can be ‘other’, but working properties can change
dramatically with metals other than copper (the historical mix).
BTW, I’m talking strictly about American-made sterling, not stuff
from Mexico, et al.
Set me straight if I need it, and please include a reference. Oh,
and is “palladium silver” sterling?