S88 Sterling Alloy


Through a recent Orchid posting, I was turned onto United Precious
Metal’s S88 Fire-scale free, tarnish resistant sterling silver
alloy. I am really impressed with it. For the past month, I have been
alloying my own S88 sterling wire and sheet, and fabricating a number
of sterling projects with it. Marvelous stuff! Absolutely no
fire-scale, even when annealed with no flux barriers, and can be
quenched quickly after annealing, with no fears of breaking.

It is quite easy to form, and takes a beautiful finish. Although I
haven’t had much experience casting with it yet, a few of my students
cast with it last night, and the castings came out very clean and
bright, with a very smooth surface. So far, so good. I know there has
been a lot of interest in the new Argentium sterling out on the
market, and I have experimented with it. My experience with the
Argentium was that it was a bit quirky to use, and the long cooling
period required after heating or soldering to avoid breaking was
annoying for me personally. (I’m moving pretty fast when I’m
working, I guess, and I hate to slow down to watch metal cool.) The
S88 Sterling, on the other hand, was a pure joy to use, and I hope
more metalsmiths will start using it.

I plan to be at the Orchid Dinner, and would be happy to discuss
this alloy with anyone who is interested in it. (Oh, by the way, I
don’t work for United, I just happen to like their alloy!)

—Jay Whaley UCSD Craft Center

Jay, I have been using Uniteds S88 for about 10 years and have
posted about it on this forum, although not recently. It is still the
best I have ever used, both for casting and forming. I have pieces
that have lain on my bench for months on end and show no tarnish.
This will save you a great deal of time and energy when it comes to
keeping the stock looking fresh. Great that you were introduced to it
I have recommended it to everyone I know that works in Sterling… You
might also try the gold alloys at united. I especially like the
bright yellow I think the number is 200. Also if you ever need help
there I have always delt with Dave Zimmer who will direct you to the
person to talk to if he can’t answer your questions. United has some
great people and great products. (usual disclaimer goes here)
1-800-999-fine is their phone.