Silicon Sterling

Hello Trevor: I understand it, over 1/2 ton (of Argentium) has been
shipped from the U.S. to China to date..... hardly seems sporting to slag off Argentium....especially
with outdated and distorted --in the process....

Let’s run the numbers…as my father always taught me. (He said,
“what sounds like a lot can ultimately be a pittance and vice
versa…”) Using my trusty Stuller Metals Book, which has some of
the most complete conversion charts on the planet in it, 1/2 ton of
alloy equals 1000 pounds avoir. In the Metals Book, 1 Kilo = 2.2046
pounds avoir. So 1000 pounds equals 453.59 Kilos of alloy.

Now Trevor, you used the figure of 1/2 ton because you thought that
it would bolster your case that there is, in fact, a crapload of
this alloy being sold to China. But what that figure actually does
is to make most experts who deal with the production jewelry market
on a daily basis, scratch their heads in quizzical wonderment. Let
me inform you as to why they would be amazed at this.

I will tell you that in Bangkok alone, there are hundreds of huge
factories that produce silver. And I know of (and have actually been
in them, Trevor) those that number at least 80 that use 450 Kilos
EVERY WEEK of alloy alone. Times that figure by those who are of the
same volume in India, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and
Chiang Mai, Thailand…and you have an astronomical amount of
gross silver alloy used on a daily and weekly basis. These
companies…when they ask me for a quote on price on alloys, state
their usage in hundreds or thousands of tons of metal.

450 Kilos??? These companies loose that much with spills on the
floor each year. So if your purpose was to convince the good people
of Orchid that I was distorting overall usage…by running the
numbers themselves, they can easily see who was trying to do the

I stand by what I said…with one honest correction. I personally
know of 2 factories using it on a large scale in the Far East…1
in Indonesia and 1 in Thailand. I am certain there are more. This
was anecdotal evidence I was using, of course, and I know that the
thinking part of the Orchid Forum gleaned that from my description.
My only point being, Trevor…was that it isn’t all over the place
like you would like everyone to think it is. And that one should not
impune someone who is actually there in those same production
shops…where you have never been.

I came across one silver factory in China last month that had 45
huge casting ovens and 9 frequency casting machines running
everyday. In that situation, the problems which HAVE been reported
over the past months on Orchid with Argentium (no distortion) may
not be easily managed and sometimes financially costly to fix with
production like that. Do you want to know how many pieces that is in
one day? And that is not to mention the still unanswered questions
as to Argentiums re-usability, which greatly effects production
shops more than the Artisan user.

I implore all Orchid readers to read carefully all that is written
on the Forum and how it is said. And not to fly off the handle when
one challenges someone elses “turf”. And definitely…don’t “slag
off” a fellow Orchidian because he expresses an adverse opinion to
yours, or you think he’s trying to line his pockets with his
criticisms. (All those who know me well, even my friends at
Stern-Leach, would laugh at that…considering I still dress like
the hippie I have always been…)

Especially before you have a chance to run those numbers before you
post them…!!!

Cheers, Trevor.

The Doc

From Sin City

Marc “Doc” Robinson
ABI Precious Metals Asia, Ltd.

Now Marc,

Now Trevor, you used the figure of 1/2 ton because you thought that
it would bolster your case that there is, in fact, a crapload of
this alloy being sold to China. 

I used the figure of 1/2 ton because that’s what I understand has
been shipped to China from the US manufacturer. Your original post
said “its’ use is non-existant” which is untrue and I offered the data
to show that.

While it was very generous of you to give us a lesson in converting
to metric I don’t particularly care, nor does it really matter for the
sake of this discussion, how much that may or may not be in terms of
all the silver used in all the factories in Asia. The point is that:

(a) Argentium Sterling (AS) is being used in territories where you
said it is not; (as it happens it has been in factory use for years
in other territories --Europe for instance-- but that wasn’t the
specific point of our discussion).

(b) the people using AS in Asia are happy with it and are not
experiencing the problems you claim they are;

(c) your attempts to belittle Argentium Sterling are motivated by
your efforts to promote or assist in the promotion of what you
consider to be a competing alloy (Sterilite Sterling) not a benign
desire to pass on useful

(d) the basis of your arguments seems to be “something could go wrong
and that means you should avoid it”. I don’t find that a very
convincing case especially when the same could be said of virtually
every alloy in use be it silver, gold, brass or whatever. I think
everyone here knows that the metals they use need to be handled in a
manner appropriate to that alloy. Failure to do so will very likely
yield unsatisfactory results whether it’s in a factory or a workbench
situation. If the factory is using 100,000 times as much metal as the
artisan then I should think it would behove them to get it right or
yes, I would imagine they would have to deal with the consequences of
failing to do so.

You’ve also said that AS “it isn’t all over the place like you would
like everyone to think it is”. If we ignore for the moment your
attempt to insinuate that I am I trying to mislead my fellow
Orchidians I think you’ll find that I’ve only ever cited two specific
locations regarding their production use of AS: Kultakescus in
Finland and the factory use in China. I haven’t cited more than that
because I simply don’t know more than that.

Unlike you I have not travelled the globe in attempt to promote a
product because aside from the jewelry I have made in my own shop I
have nothing to promote. In particular I have no vested interest in AS
nor the Argentium Silver Co. I am as we’ve so often said here on
Orchid, “just a happy customer”. It has been good of you to include
your own affiliations in your signature to alert us to the fact that
you are not, and presumably will not, make a similar claim.

As you implied in your recent post I do have a decided personal
preference for Argentium Sterling and my blog clearly indicates why,
including (as it happens) the results of my own experiments with
Sterilite. (In fact I declined to name Sterilite specifically in the
blog because the results of those tests were not particularly

Then, and now, I advise anyone to take sample of the “de-ox” alloy,
or any alloy they plan on using, and subject them to the same
procedures they would use in their own day-to-day working practice. If
the proper use and handling procedures for the metal have been
observed and your results are unsatisfactory then I suppose you have
your answer. However if you’ve misused the alloy and/or failed to
follow the recommended procedures then one might look to oneself and
not the metal for the source of the difficulties.

And, finally, yes there is the occasional instance, especially during
the introduction of a new alloy, where a specific batch of the alloy
may not be up to par. Again I’d wager that anyone who has worked with
purchased alloys over an extended period of time will have
experienced the same. For instance I once had a unusually brittle
batch of regular sterling silver sheet. Should I then have claimed
that “sterling is brittle, don’t use it”? Perhaps, but I’d have been
misinformed if I did so and my peers would not have hesitated to
point that out. And so they should.

Trevor F.
in The City of Light
Visit at