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Silver by mail order

Can anybody recommend a mail-order retailer for small quantities of


Hi Janet,

I purchase items occasionally from when
I need small quantities of products. I used to use them for all of
my wire needs and have only had really good service from them at
prices comparable to larger places like Rio. I hope this helps!

Carrie Otterson
Wired Contemporary Jewelry

Take a look at Starr Gems at I’ve
always been happy with those folks, their products and they send it

Hopefully helpful, Carol

Starr Gem always has used tools and equipment. They also donated to
Orchid last February so if you are in the market for tools, get in
touch with them. Sam Patania, Tucson

I usually use G&S Metals: The have great prices for
smaller quanities as compared to Rio Grande or Hauser and Miller, which
can also supply small quanities of metal.

One order of fine silver didn’t handle the same as my other orders.
Whenever I tried to fuse it (using a tabletop kiln and butane
torch), something would bubble up on the surface and either
crystalize or turn black. Fine silver is not supposed to discolor
under heat. Sterling does discolor, but this didn’t behave like
sterling, either, as it discolored only where the torch was used and
not over the entire piece.

Just in case it was sterling, I called Rio Grande to see if I
ordered the wrong stuff, but that wasn’t the problem. Since it was
only a half ounce, they very kindly offered to replace it.

The new wire works just fine, which supports my belief that there
was something different about the first batch of silver.

Should I expect silver to vary significantly from batch to batch? It
seems to me that refiners take a small leap of faith when they
accept silver for recycling, and that the less recycled material in
a batch of silver, the better the quality.


Janet, I had the same thing happen when a large lot of casting grain,
supposed to be plain sterling, was instead the anti-firescale silver.
It acted very like you describe, left gunk in the crucible and took
much longer to melt. In the midst of a casting run, this was
horrific and nothing could be done to change at that point. The
proof came after quenching, when the models cast were pure white
clean. No trace of gray or black oxidation. Took awhile to get
things sorted out, but Rio made good and accepted the return and
sent the Real Sterling grain in exchange. All it takes is one dodo in
the stock room to louse things up. Or one working while half asleep.
Can happen anywhere these days.


        I had the same thing happen when a large lot of casting
grain, supposed to be plain sterling, was instead the
anti-firescale silver. 

Pat, I don’t know if Rio Grande sent me a different product by
mistake; I’d just assumed that it was a bad batch, perhaps from
too many impurities. But I don’t know how silver is refined. Does it
vary from batch to batch, depending on the quality of the recycled

By the way, the problem silver is very stiff, even after heating to
annealing temperature. Is a characteristic of anti-firescale silver?