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Sterling silver alloys


#1

I have some questions about the “Sterling Standard” of .925 that may
seem dumb to ask, but I have wondered about them for some time, so I
am going to ask anyway.

I re-use all my “clean” scrap, as I would assume most of us do. What
I mean by “clean” is cuttings left from sheet, bezels, wire, etc. My
dirty filings are sent in to be refined, as it usually also contains
dust from flex shaft polishing wheels & compounds.

When I do melt down my scrap there is often at least 1/8th to 1/16th
content of fine silver clippings. Mostly left-overs from wire for
woven chains, bezel wire clippings, and pieces of fine silver sheet
left over from cutting out shapes for enameling projects. I will
typically pour it all into the sheet mold side of my ingot mold and
then forge that thin enough to go through the rolling mill to roll it
down to whatever thickness I may need. Sometimes I pour ingots for
wire, but mostly I just make new sheet. I don’t separate all the fine
silver clippings from my sterling scrap, as there doesn’t seem to be
enough to warrant being anal about keeping it all separate, except
when there are rather large pieces, in which case I will keep them in
a separate scrap box.

What I am wondering is, is there a problem with me stamping my work
with a “Sterling Silver” or “.925” stamp? I was taught and have read
that the “.925” standard means there is at least 92.5% fine silver
content. Is it a problem then that my percentage of fine silver is
actually higher than that standard in the sheet or wire that I have
made from my scrap?

Am I “throwing money away” by not being more anal about separating
my smaller fine silver scraps from my sterling scraps? (Right now
there does not seem to be a whole lot, but as my business grows I
would imagine and hope, that I will be producing more.

Also, are there any issues or concerns down the road if a piece
should need repair or any concerns when using my “scrap-made” sheet
for forged work, Chase & Repose’, malleability in wire problems,
polishing issues, or whatever else someone on Orchid may add that I
have not considered?

I am somewhat familiar with some of the alloys that are made with
silver, like Shibuichi & Mokume, but I am wondering what thoughts
many of you may have on this.

Thanks,
Teresa


#2
Am I "throwing money away" by not being more anal about separating
my smaller fine silver scraps from my sterling scraps? (Right now
there does not seem to be a whole lot, but as my business grows I
would imagine and hope, that I will be producing more. 

You are doing just fine. If you compose your alloy with precisely
925 parts of fine silver, out of 1000, some of the alloy may actually
be bellow the standard. Edges of an ingot usually contains less
silver than middle part. Difference is minor, but enough to warrant
practice of using slightly more fine silver than required. This is
caused by pouring at higher temperature than necessary, which is
almost unavoidable in small shop practice.

Additional benefit is that sterling crystalline structure can be
damaged if brought to temperature necessary to work with hard
solders. (See Brepohl for more explanation) Alloy of 950 part of
fine silver is much better choice. But even if your alloy is less
than 950, any increase from 925 is beneficial.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com