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Sterling silver engagement ring hardness


#1

My cousin is getting engaged and is desperate to have a sterling
silver engagement ring as she isn’t a fan of gold and platinum is out
of her budget. Personally I can relate to what she is saying as we
have very similar tastes! (My engagement ring was also silver but was
only ever intended to be worn until my wedding day when I switched
rings. My wedding ring is stainless steel and silver, the silver
being protected by the steel surrounding it. So it still looks as
good as new 6 years later.)

I have talked to her about white gold and she doesnt feel that is an
optioneither as she doesn’t like the colour of it unplated and
equally doesn’t want to have to keep having to re-rhodium every few
years. Basically she loves silver and wants a silver ring but is
intending to wear it everyday forever. I want to let her know what
exactly she is letter herself in for.

I realise that alot is based on the final design for the ring…
knowing my cousin it will be simple and chunky and very very funky!
But I’m wondering which of the gold carats, sterling silver is most
like in relation to hardness and wear over the years. I am talking in
a work hardened finished state. I know pure silver is slightly harder
than pure gold, but I’m not sure how they compare once alloys have
been added etc.

How a ring wears obviously depends on how it has been worn, my
cousin is a vet nurse and a masseuse. She likes extreme sports but
doesn’t climb… just to give you an idea of the type of wear it
will be subjected to.

I am assuming she will also want a sterling silver wedding ring so
it’s important I advise her correctly.

Can anyone help? Does anyone out there have a sterling silver
engagement ring which has stood the test of time? Or is it just a
really bad idea?

Thanks in advance.


#2
Can anyone help? Does anyone out there have a sterling silver
engagement ring which has stood the test of time? Or is it just a
really bad idea? 

Why not platinum sterling? Lovely color, greater strength (I think).
Seems like a perfect solution for her.

My original wedding ring was misplaced so I threw on a sterling band
I made a long time ago, it happened to fit. It’s been holding up just
fine… Though I do have plans to replace it with something else,
eventually.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#3

I think she would be disappointed with a silver engagement ring;
sterling silver is easily tarnished, doesn’t wear well, and some
people’s skin can turn it black.

Since she doesn’t like gold and can’t afford platinum, I’d suggest
palladium. It looks like platinum (some people think its even a
little whiter) and costs about the same as 14K gold. Its white
without the need of plating, non-tarnishable in all normal
environments, and is excellent for stone settings.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#4

Traditional sterling silver is about as soft as 22k gold. It is
possible to work hardened it to between 115-130 HV which would be a
little soft for daily wear but not too bad. The problem is to get to
these hardness ranges you would have to cold work it to reduce its
section by 70% - 80% without ever annealing or soldering it during or
after the reduction or the ring would return to its softer annealed
state. This is totally impractical for virtually any method of
jewelry fabrication. However the new alloy of sterling silver,
Argentium offers a solution that will be much better than trying to
get huge amounts of cold work into the ring. It can be precipitation
hardened after fabrication to 100-120 HV by following the suppliers
instructions. While it will not be as hard as even annealed 14K or
18K yellow golds (140-150 HV) it will be much better than the
annealed state of sterling at 76 HV. There is a learning curve
associated with Argentium but there is a lot of good in
the Orchid archives on working with it.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#5
Can anyone help? Does anyone out there have a sterling silver
engagement ring which has stood the test of time? Or is it just a
really bad idea? 

Bad idea.

I tell my customers that engagement and wedding jewelry should last
as long or longer than the relationship. Sterling silver is a bad
choice. There is a white gold alloy I use that have no yellow tinge,
they do not need to be rhodium plated. Martin Fell has one,
introduced
to me by our own Andy Cooperman, Dozens of rings made with no
problems. Winter white is the name of the alloy. I have not had one
customer with a nickle aloy allergic reaction!!!

Richard Hart


#6

It is funny you should ask that. We have been looking into Palladium
as an alternate to WG and PLAT even. It lasts as long as PLAT and is
about the same cost as WG and does not need plating. We have found
in some cases even that when ordering sizing stock PD is even
sometimes cheaper than WG.

You might suggest that. I think your friend will be be more
satisfied in the end.

And you can find some good info on working with PD at Ganoksin and
luxurypalladium.com.

I hope this is helpful for you and your friend.

Steven


#7

Hello Ali,

The sterling will not hold up as well as most gold alloys. I have
been wearing a ring on each thumb for the same amount of time - one
is silver the other gold. After 10 years, the pattern on the silver
ring is gone - totally smooth. The gold ring shows some smoothing,
but the pattern is still distinct.

You don’t mention having a stone set in the ring, but if that’s what
she wants, it had better be bezel set, preferably slightly recessed
as well.

There are some new white gold alloys (Stuller has one) that are very
white. Worth considering. 10 years from now, I really think she
would be happier with a gold ring than a sterling ring.

Judy in Kansas where the weather today was just lovely! More like
spring than mid-November!

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.


#8

I have a student who wears a sterling wedding ring which would be
between 35 and 40 years old. It is a band with applied squares. She
actually repaired it herself a few years ago by replacing a square
that had worn thin. She had replicated her husband’s ring when he
lost it and then looked at hers and realized how thin it had worn.
Silver is soft but the ring has really lasted well for her. She has
done a lot of gardening through the years so the ring has not been
pampered.

marilyn


#9
Traditional sterling silver is about as soft as 22k gold. 

James, I’m sure you have hard info to back this up, but speaking in
terms of working experience, even 18k gold is softer than sterling!
I would describe 22K as being softer even than fine silver, as far
as, say, the effort needed to close a bezel. So how can this be?

Noel


#10

It is absolutely possible to make engagement ring from sterling
silver which would last a lifetime, but it must be hand-fabricated.
Silver has the best reflectivity far exceeding Gold, Platinum,
Palladium and everything else. Nothing brings life into gems like
silver, but one has to realize that labor cost would be high, so if
"I
do not like gold" is a euphemist for “I cannot afford gold” then it
is
not a good choice.

I do agree that a silver casting wold not last long.

Leonid Surpin.


#11

I’ve been using the 3% platinum sterling quite a bit. Beautiful
color and, I’ve been testing a bracelet by wearing it for many months
now, and still no tarnish and the metal is a beautiful color.
However, I did have this disquieting experience with the metal – we
were trying to alter the oval of a bangle bracelet just a little and
my goldsmith applied some pressure with only his hands and the
bracelet broke in three places. Really, I was standing right with him
and he only squeezed the oval a little. I’ve sold a good number of
these bracelets and none have come back nor have I heard any other
similar complaint but still…

I believe the platinum sterling is sintered metal and the metal I am
using has been cast –

I would be nervous if the design of the ring wasn’t pretty beefy.

Anybody else have experience with the strength of platinum silver?

Janet


#12
but one has to realize that labor cost would be high, so if "I do
not like gold" is a euphemist for "I cannot afford gold" then it
is not a good choice.

Haha, yeah this crossed my mind so I checked this wasn’t the case by
asking her budget. She has definately got plenty for a gold diamond
ring, if that is what she was into. She just always wears silver and
that is what she likes. She is happy to pay a good price… equal
what she would pay for gold. I have talked to her openly in the past
about the cost of sheet silver etc and how the labour on my
jewellery costs more than the metal itself. She has a better
understanding of it than the average joe public, she has often sat
and chatted to me while I’ve been working at my bench so she knows
how much work goes into it all. She even had a go herself once.

I find it quite amusing actually, I have turned my spare bedroom
into a workshop and it has no door on it. So every time visitors
need the toilet, on their return from upstairs they bombard me with
questions about jewellery and always want me to accompany them back
upstairs again and give them a little demonstration (…of
jewellery making of course!) I find it amazing how interesting
people find it. They start to behave a bit like a child saying,
“Whats this for? Whats that for?” Quite nice really.

Ali UK


#13

My mother has been wearing her sterling wedding ring for about 20+
years. It probably needed to be reshanked years ago, but it only just
broke in the back today. It is not (and never was) a heavy ring, but
it was hand fabricated. (I agree with Leonid here.) She abuses it in
all the normal ways - household chemicals, gardening, etc. My parents
don’t really wear jewelry, so since this was the one ring my dad ever
bought my mom when they were dating, she decided to start wearing it
as a wedding ring. He paid $8 for it almost 40 years ago! Now I’m
trying to talk her into getting something with a little more bling,
but she is attached to her sterling ring, and it will proabably be a
struggle just to get her to let me half shank it. I think she will
wear it 'til it literally disintegrates. So from my personal
observation, if you wear a medium weight sterling ring every day,
with a normal amount of daily abuse, and NEVER take it to a jeweler,
(well, maybe she had it polished once or twice), it could easily last
20 years.

Best, Holly.


#14
James, I'm sure you have hard info to back this up, but speaking in
terms of working experience, even 18k gold is softer than sterling!
I would describe 22K as being softer even than fine silver, as far
as, say, the effort needed to close a bezel. So how can this be? 

Noel, I use both metals daily and my experience over the past 30
years and the published hardness numbers say that sterling is quite
a bit softer than an 18K standard yellow So I am not certain why your
experience is different.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#15
She has definately got plenty for a gold diamond ring, if that is
what she was into. She just always wears silver and that is what
she likes. 

Ali, much of the response to this falls in the category of
conventional wisdom, and I agree with all of it. Especially if stones
are involved, a silver ring is unlikely to survive the years anywhere
near as well as gold or platinum. We do a LOT of bridal work, though,
and I just don’t argue with customers about what they want - if you
explain to her the physical properties and pros and cons - informed
decision and all that, and she still wants silver then so be it as
far as I’m concerned. The objective facts about metal properties are
all well and good, but it’s her ring, more importantly it’s her
engagement ring, and that’s that. If it were me I would take pains to
make something that’s built to last with the metal in mind -
something delicate and pierced in silver will last two years, max,
your basic 4 prong solitaire in silver will last 6 months till the
tips are gone, stuff like that, but that’s all…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#16

I have a sterling silver ring that is about 100 years old. It is just
a simple band that is made up of two 14g wires that were loosly
twisted. This ring was my great grandmother’s and she aquired it when
she was 14 years old. I have worn the ring regularly over the last 12
years, even when I work in my studio sanding and filing, and only
recently has it broke. The ring is not soldered together where the
two wires are twisted so the wire has broken in a few spots and I
have had to repair it, but from a few little repairs it has held up
to some pretty heavy abuse!

Lauren Stineman
Brighter Shade of Blue


#17

Have you thought about Palladium? Costs like gold, works like
platinum!

Ivan Sagel
www.wyzensageldesigns.com


#18

Hi, all,

I have several clients who for various reasons demand sterling
silver for wedding and engagement rings. Sometimes it is about the
"energy" or general principles about the origin of gold.

If there is a stone it must be bezel set with white gold or heavy
silver or a heavy enough cast ring so the stone can be flush set…
One client insists upon a silver band with a small ring on to that
is connected to a small ring on the band that goes around the middle
of a double ended quartz. I told her from the beginning that all
silver was a bad idea and she just had to have it anyway. About 6
months later she cheerfully returned to the studio and said I had
been right and it had indeed worn through the small rings as I had
predicted. She wanted to know if I could make them heavier and I
told her that it would happen again. She said that was fine as long
as I could fix it again. The next time she returned she thought the
suggestion I had made the last time of using white gold for the
small rings might be a good option. So that’s what we did. I have
only had to replace the white gold rings once in the last 15 years,
however it is about time to see the dancing quartz ring visit the
studio again. She;s been a faithful client since all the other
jewelers in town told her it couldn’t be done.

The energy is still ok with the white gold and sterling combo since
it is mostly silver.

Good luck with the sterling ring!
Barbara in Norfolk


#19

I have said this often enough, but the platinum/sterling alloy I
have worked and worn daily for over a year now - works and wears
better than a traditional 14k yellow gold alloy. Plenty of
traditional 14k yellow wedding rings are still surviving after 50
years of wear.

Time will tell, but from what I can see the Plat/Ster alloy is an
excellent alternative to traditional sterling and white gold alloys,
with a good price. It’s far more malleable and truly whiter than any
white gold alloy for about a third of the price of karated gold.

The platinum/sterling alloys I have worked with from ABI Metals come
in casting grain or milled sheet and wire stock, not sintered.

P. S. Noel, I don’t know what alloy or gauge of 18k you are working
with but in my 30 years as a goldsmith I have never been able to get
my 18k so well annealed that it would be as soft as sterling.

What’s your trick?

Happy Turkey Day to all!
Nanz Aalund