We were interested in finding an answer to your question so we did a
little research and printed the answer in our newsletter:
Questions coming from some customers and a recent posting on the
Orchid Forum led us to seek an answer to the question: How to finish
Argentium silver so it does not develop a layer of tarnish (keeping
the germanium oxide layer)?
A quick bit of research brought us to a couple of interesting
websites. First of all, Cynthia Eid posted a very informative and
comprehensive writeup about working with Argentium on Ganoksin. This
article describes how to work with the metal but also has a section
on finishing. Cynthia also has more info relating to argentium on her
website. Road Testing Argentium Sterling and Argentium Sterling
Second, A related article appears in the Touchmetal.com blog. Both
articles are informative and can greatly enhance your work with the
Argentium. Both sources helped us understand the science behind the
problem but we wanted to ask specifically (as our Orchid writer
asked), what if we use Scotch-Brite™ Radial Bristle Discs to bring
the metal to a high polish. Would that take away the necessary layer
of germanium needed to protect the silver from tarnish?
I decided to give Cynthia Eid a call and ask her what she thought.
Here is a bulletpoint summary of thoughts from our conversation.
Even though the abrasive in the Bristle Discs is very light, it
will probably remove some of the germanium layer.
However, the layer regenerates at room temperature so it will grow
back again–on it’s own.
If you want to add some insurance and accelerate the process, you
can heat up the piece at a low temperature (250 degrees F, 121 C) for
10 to 20 minutes.
Finish the process by using Goddard’s Long Shine Silver Cloth on
the metal. Note that other polishes that contain anti-tarnish
chemicals may work (Such as 3M™ Tarni-Shield) however, Goddards
has been extensively tested.
The simple process above should insure that your Argentium silver
will stay polished and tarnish-free. Thanks to Cynthia Eid for her
generous gift of time and insight.
McKinnon Global, LLC
Fine Jewelry & Creative Supplies