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Preventing Argentium Silver Tarnish


#1
Argentium Sterling silver is tarnish resistant, not tarnish proof. 

I have really been wrestling with the idea of switching to
Argentium, at least partially. I often make things with hard-to-clean
areas, so tarnish resistance would be welcome. But it sure sounds to
me like Argentium merely postpones the inevitible, and you’re
eventually back to square one. So I can’t help but wonder whether the
additional expense and learning curve are ultimately worth it. Any
thoughts?

Allan Mason
www.silvermason.com


#2

Allan,

I am in the process of switching over to the Argentium Sterling. So
far I have found the learning curve to be minimal and in the end, I
really don’t care about the extra cost. It is my vision and skill
they pay for not the material. I find the malleability, color (it
does appear whiter), and the ease of fusing well worth the learning
curve and expense. I do a lot of fold forming. I can comfortably get
50 to 100% more movement between annealing than I could ever get away
with with traditional sterling (TS?). The hardening trait lets me
work things from thinner stock too. For me the tarnish resistance is
only one of the benefits of this material.

The public will buy into the tarnish angle. The other traits will
make our lives easier and more fun as metal dingers.

Bill Churlik
@Bill_Churlik
www.earthspeakarts.com


#3

Hi

I have really been wrestling with the idea of switching to
Argentium, at least partially. I often make things with
hard-to-clean areas, so tarnish resistance would be welcome. But it
sure sounds to me like Argentium merely postpones the inevitible, 

I know I’m new, but I have been wondering for a while why people are
not incorporating more fine silver into their work if they are
concerned with tarnish? Fine silver takes so much longer to discolor
and it’s a known entity (so there is no learning curve). I know it’s
softer, but (as far as I know) that would just mean that it shouldn’t
be used on certain areas (like ring shanks).

To me, there are a lot of great qualities. You can fuse it easily,
it’s very beautiful, it stays tarnish free for a long time, and (when
it does tarnish) you can clean it up easily.

Does anyone think the use of Argentium has anything to do with it
being the “in” thing to use right now and not so much the
practicality of it?

Thanks
Kim Starbard


#4

All silver alloys tarnish no ifs, ands, or buts. Some of the tarnish
resistant sterling alloys offer a longer time before tarnish shows
up but they all will tarnish eventually. The lab type accelerated
tarnish tests that the manufacturers of these alloys cite are just
that, a lab test not real world performance. In my opinion the
customer will not care very much if it takes 1 week or 6 weeks (or 6
months) before the tarnish shows up if it still tarnishes. So they
will be left with a bad taste in their mouth when the “tarnish
resistant sterling silver” tarnishes because they will have
interpreted tarnish resistant to mean tarnish free. Again in my
opinion all the tarnish resistant alloys have drawbacks (most are
too soft, Argentium has too low a melting point and the platinum
containing alloys are too expensive) that just are not present in
the standard alloy. Until they invent a tarnish free sterling I will
stick with standard copper based sterling alloy for my work.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#5

Hi, For what it may be worth, some folks who use fine silver a lot,
and have tried Argentium Sterling Silver have told me that they feel
that the idea that fine silver does not tarnish is a bit of a myth,
and that they find that Argentium Sterling tarnishes less/more slowly
than fine silver.

In MY experience, Argentium Sterling is nearly tarnish-proof. I have
not needed to clean anything that I’ve finished making with Argentium
Sterling. I think it is simply honest to call Argentium Silver highly
tarnish resistant rather than tarnish proof.

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com


#6

James,

... in my opinion all the tarnish resistant alloys have drawbacks
(most are too soft, Argentium has too low a melting point and the
platinum containing alloys are too expensive) that just are not
present in the standard alloy. 

Good points, as usual, but I would respectfully suggest that the
melting point of Argentium Sterling being 50 degrees or so less than
regular sterling is unlikely to be much of an issue for your average
silverworker. I for one have worked a fair amount of AS and never
have I found myself troubled by this difference. Certainly some
process needed a bit of adaptation in going from regular sterling to
AS but once that was under my belt the advantages of AS continued to
make my everyday work, and the products I make, a better experience
for all concerned.

On the other hand I can certainly see how it might be an issue for
the kind of work you do. As ever I’m sure the significance depends on
the worker and their processes.

Cheers,
Trevor F.
in The City of Light
Visit TouchMetal.com at http://www.touchmetal.com


#7
In MY experience, Argentium Sterling is nearly tarnish-proof. I
have not needed to clean anything that I've finished making with
Argentium Sterling. I think it is simply honest to call Argentium
Silver highly tarnish resistant rather than tarnish proof. 

I happily second this. While I have had to clean a thing or two
that I’ve made with Argentium Sterling (AS) --for instance the spoon
I mention on the blog has received a year’s worth of neglect and
abuse and it does show it-- the VAST majority of items I’ve made are
pretty much as clean and shiny today as they were when I finished
them.

In particular I would repeat what Cynthia said about AS being highly
tarnish resistant NOT tarnish proof. I’ve seen “tarnish proof” used
on some sites where AS products are sold and I think that’s simply
false advertising and, ultimately, fraud. No one legitimate, and
certainly not Peter Johns nor Argentium Silver Co., claims that AS is
tarnish “proof”.

However 18 k yellow gold isn’t “tarnish proof” either --I know
because I can tarnish it in a couple days under the right weather
conditions-- and you’re not likely to hear that being held against
it. So why should AS be held to standards any different? The answer
IMHO is that it shouldn’t. If it is MUCH less likely to tarnish over
a given period of time, and tarnish much less, than regular sterling
then that’s a significant improvement and a good thing, for makers
and wearers alike.

For those who’ve used AS and have learned to produce products that
benefit from it’s tarnish resistant properties the benefits are
real not imagined or hyped or the result of “clever advertising”.
Use it or don’t use it as you see fit but I should think it worth
remembering that many others are using it to good effect, shop-wise
and product-wise.

Cheers,
Trevor F.
in The City of Light
Visit TouchMetal.com at http://www.touchmetal.com


#8

Hi Trevor,

I guess I was a little imprecise it is more about its strength at
temperatures near the melting point that is an issue for me.
Standard sterling is difficult enough for hot work and it seems that
Argentium is more delicate at temperature.

I love experimenting with new materials and I am delighted with the
wide variety of new alloys that are now available to us to
experiment with. But for production work eventually the decision has
to be made as to whether an alloy is suitable for production and if
the all the costs associated with it can be covered by the finished
product. Argentium seems to have some benefit in tarnish resistance
when compared to standard sterling but the question is how much
difference in the real world of product use and how much will the
consumer care / be willing to pay for that difference. Argentium
doesn’t have a huge cost increase over standard sterling so I think
it will be incorporated more and more into the designer goods and
high end sterling product. But even a small cost difference in the
lower end is too much and I doubt we will see the mass market turn to
Argentium. To me the greatest thing about Argentium is the lack of
fire stain. For the individual craftsman and small shop that is a
great boon but larger manufacturers have already invested in ways of
dealing with fire stain and will not care so much.

Regards,

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#9
.. but the question is how much difference in the real world of
product use and how much will the consumer care / be willing to pay
for that difference. 

Very true, and in my experience the answer is “not much”. People who
are now familiar with their AS goods are generally quite fond of
them, often want more and are willing to pay a modest amount more but
those unfamiliar with AS are often only willing to pay a small amount
to try the improved tarnish resistance, which is perfectly
understandable.

As to the loss of structural strength under higher heat conditions I
certainly can’t disagree there. In my own work I’ve had to develop
techniques to avoid and/or work around that problem but I can
certainly see that that wouldn’t work for everyone. I’ve found that
the lower temp AS solders are a great help but of course that’s just
a way to avoid the issue which, again, I realize wouldn’t work for
everyone.

Cheers,
Trevor F.
in The City of Light
Visit TouchMetal.com at http://www.touchmetal.com