What is in the air?

Hi all

I do an outside market and yesterday there was some rain and some
earrings got a couple of spots or rain on them. Instantly black spots
appeared. Wiped straight off with a polishing cloth.

This is Argentium silver.

When I used sterling the pieces had to be pickled to clean the black
spots off.

This only happens at this one market at others rain spots to don’t
tarnish the metal.

The market where this happens is very close to an airport and the
stall holder consensus is that there is jet fuel in the air that
causes the problem. We all agree that it does not happen at other

Any ideas?

all the best

Hi Richard,

JP4 (Standard jet fuel) is basically just kerosene & gasoline, mixed

You could try mixing some up and see what, if anything, it does to
your argentium. I suspect: very little. But I’ve been wrong before.


The air around airports is super charged with ozone as far as
emissions go this is the difference.

always and forever a crop dusting
adventurer from 1930

Could be sulfur. Do you have paper mills nearby?

Hello Richard,

When fossil fuel of any kind is burned, the result is more sulfur
compounds in the air. Same thing happens in the winter when gas
furnaces are used allthe time. At least I’ve noticed that tarnish
occurs more rapidly in the winter than the rest of the year.

Judy in Kansas, where another raised bed is in the works. Turtles
are up and eagerly gulped their ‘breakfast’ meal of fish and greens.

With regards to the JP4, be very careful, it will ignite with a
spark. It was also used to fuel the Huey B and D helicopters in
Vietnam, and worked well in Zippo lighters.


Reminds me of one year at a show we do in Creede, CO. The summer of
the big forest fire three years ago, when it rained our sterling
silver jewelry go black water spots that the ionic cleaner would not
remove. Everything had to be re-polished and in some cases resanded.


Actually very simple to explain… you see the black plumes out of
the back of Jet engines has the planes accelerate to takeoff speed
and shortly after? That is unburned fuel (AKA Soot). What happened is
the more volatile compounds burn off first and the long chain
components of the fuel require higher heat and plenty of oxygen,
which is missing to fully burn.

Add Sulphur from cheaper fuels and you get crap that will tarnish
silver… :wink: Just think you are breathing it in too…

The amount of sulfur is dependent on the oil used to produce the fuel
and any post processing steps to reduce the sulfur. This is why the
amount of tarnish can be different between 2 airports, not to
mention effects like spatial relationship of the runaways to you and
wind speed/ direction

It is less of a problem in Canada / US because as a result of acid
rain, tougher regulations on the free sulfur were brought in that
reduced considerably the allowed amount and indirectly resulted in
Sulfur Mountain, a postmodern Pyramid.

Hello All,

Right now in our air is the smoke from farmers in Siberia burning
their fields and the flames got out of control., a whole 5,000 miles

Here in Northern Nevada, the air is heavy with smoke and blowing
your way.

Veva Bailey

With regards to the JP4, be very careful, it will ignite with a
spark. It was also used to fuel the Huey B and D helicopters in
Vietnam, and worked well in Zippo lighters.

JP4 was also useful for fueling little makeshift camp stoves made
from C ration cans filled with sand. Burned really dark and greasy
though. Everything tasted like helicopter.

Dave Phelps

Yes, Dave, JP4 was handy stuff. Also, a little crumbled C4 was good
for heating up whatever. a bit sparkly though. Welcome home, Dave.


Funny thing,

now that I get to thinking about JP4 for the first time in. many
moons, I have a half-memory of someone talking about fueling a golf
cart with JP4.

Apparently it was quite speedy… until the engine blew up.

(If you knew the people I grew up around, having a golf cart in the
same place as spare JP4 (being used for camping torch fuel, as I
recall) makes as much sense as anything ever did.)

(These are the same people who once took an East German Trabant,
gutted it like a trout, and stuck a Chevy 350 motor in it. Quite the
little speed demon, that was. Once they got it weighted so that the
torque from the motor no longer kept trying to flip it over on its
side.) (As I recall, by the time they got done, there wasn’t much
left of the trabbi except the hull.)

Somehow, life just doesn’t seem quite as ‘interesting’ these days.

Can’t decide if that’s a good thing or not.


Must be kin to some folks I grew up with…

Ford 289 stuffed into a Datsun 240Z car…Don’t ask me how it

Same kinda problems getting it to stick to a road…

Gary W. Bourbonais
L’Hermite Aromatique
A.J.P. (GIA)

Hi all

Somehow, life just doesn't seem quite as 'interesting' these days. 

I was thinking that myself until. I saw a photo of an old ride on
lawnmower I gave to a friend. An English toolmaker.

Well after he finished “fixing it” it won’t cut a blade of grass but
goes like lightning.

all the best

Hi all

while we are off track a friend of mine from Europe many years ago
was over taken on the autobahn by a fiat bambino. He was driving a
high powered Audi at the time.

Any way when he got of the highway he saw the Fiat parked with the
driver just getting out. Pulled over and went to look.

The asked the driver what the go was and was told the driver was an
F1 Ferrari mechanic, with way too much time on his hands.

He had just fitted the Fiat body over a retired F1 car.

And what about the Rolls Royce with the spitfire engine in it?

all the best

Hi all

Thanx for the replies to the post. So I get it that there are some
very nasty sulphur compounds in the air that hit the ground when it

The rain does have a nasty instant effect on silver, much less with
Argentium wipes off with a polishing cloth.

But even without the rain sterling gets eaten by the air at this one
market unless cleaned all the time. It only takes 30 hours for this
to happen.

When I sold sterling I cleaned all my stock with a JCR ionic cleaner
every week stopped the problem.

Now those of us who make jewellery use Argentium so good to work and
so easy to clean. Except some times I still find the odd toxic finger
print and have to re-polish the piece. These finger prints are a dark
brown colour, what are these people sweating?

I sold a lady who turns sterling silver black very quickly an
Argentium bangle, 3 months later still clean and shiny.

This metal is just magic.

Don’t feel sorry for the stall holder who just got a large shipment
of cheap rubbish from Asia. You can see the firescale and wow it is a
funny colour for sterling LOL. He just can’t compete with Argentium.

These guys buy this stuff to make a quick buck but end up with as
David Geller points out profit losing old stock. He claims to make it
and know his silver but spends all day polishing it with a rouge
cloth. Rouge is for gold DO NOT USE IT ON SILVER AS THE IRON OXIDE

Wonder boy also sizes up rings with a gem setting hammer not a
planishing hammer and what a mess he makes. I had one lady ask me to
replace a stone in one of these re- sized rings. Told her no can do
the bezel was not high enough to hold the stones and the amber was
the best quality Chinese plastic. Showed her to use a loupe and
showed her the crack in the band and all the dents from the wrong
hammer. She made his day and got her money back.

My friend Paul who has his silver and gold made by a precious metal
making family in Kashmir showed me one of his pieces the other day, a
druzy stone in sterling.

Quality yes! Cheap no! So while it seems that 99% of what comes out
of Asia is rubbish it is good to see the old families are still making

He like me is often asked why his chains are so expensive. We have
the same answer.

They are sterling silver and you cannot buy a 2 mm snake chain in
sterling for $8.

I met a guy learning silver jewellery making the other day who found
a guy selling these Chinese chains bought one and filed off the silver
plate went back and told him to take all his chains off display or
sell them as plated or go to jail. Not a happy day for the con man.

Had a similar thing happen to me told a lady selling the silver
plate as solid sterling, that they were only plated. “I buy them as
sterling and will sell them as such.” My question was “Would you like
to explain that to a police officer from the fraud squad?” “I think
you are very rude and go away.” she said to me.

Being a gentleman, one who never insults unintentionally, said “You
are a f*cking con artist who will go to jail if you keep doing this,
your choice.” She now sells silver plated chains.

Also had fun with a stall selling silver “Made by my husband.”
“Really? It does not have the Australian fineness mark and looks like
cheap rubbish from Asia to me.” The daughter said “My dad makes
this.” I replied “You are too young to lie to a silversmith and your
dad is an arehole." Mum said “You want to be careful he can get very
angry.” I said "No darling I am ex-military he does not want to start
t with me. Do you and your daughter want to go to jail today? For
selling mis-represented country of origin product.” That wiped the
smile off these con artists faces. Have not been back to that market.

Also had fun with sellers of Alpaca silver, they do not like to be
told that it is illegal to imply it is silver. And to stop implying
it is or face jail.

How do I know it is rubbish from Asia? I have been working in
sterling for 25 years.

I have seen jewellery from Asia for 25 years some is quality most is

The metal colour is not that of sterling.

The fineness stamp 925 in an oval is since 2008 is the one we use in

If you do not stand up for the makers in quality silver you will
lose. One of my friends repairs Asian silver the only one I know who
will touch it. Charges $50 to start for a ring shank re-solder.
Always gets told “That’s more than I paid for it.” “Should have
bought quality in Australia.” is her reply.

The police in Australia are behind you. Recently Coles supermarket
was fined 2.5 million dollars for claiming their bread was wholly
baked and made in Australia. When it was not.

I don’t worry about these con artists impacting my business only the
un-educated believe their lies.

Since working in Argentium I find I have little competition from the
con artists. Argentium is instantly recognized as a superior silver.
I have my customers call by to say hello and show me how their
Argentium is is still shiny and tarnish free. Also those who said
they are allergic to sterling have no problem wearing Argentium.

Are you a silversmith in Australia? A and E metals will make ANY of
their metal shapes In Argentium minimum order 50 grams. You do pay a
premium for special orders but well worth it. My last order for 4 by 2
mm oval “comfort fit” wire was $1.36 a gram before GST. Not going to
break the bank is it? Well worth the money for such a quality
product. They also have the Argentium flying unicorn trademark stamp
and it is expensive $150 from memory but the customers love it. I
also stamp with the 925 in an oval to show it is made in Australia.
Can’t find a 935 stamp so use the 925 one.

Thinking of using Argentium? Read the instructions and you will find
it very easy to work.

don’t read the instructions and you will have problems. a & e have a
basic set of instructions on their web site. argentium international
have very detailed ones on their website, courtesy of cynthia eid.
follow the instructions and you will find argentium very easy to use
and you will produce a superior product than sterling.

argentium international also have a free tech support and if you
register with them also free you get access to really useful
promotional material.

I am just a satisfied user of Argentium I get nothing from these
companies for commenting about their product.

I am still waiting for my flying unicorn t shirt or coffee mug from
them LOL.

all the best

Hi Richard,

Yeah, we are off track, but that’s OK from time to time.

Funnily enough, the one time I ever interacted with a Trabant myself
was, in fact on the autobahn. Just a few months after the wall came
down. Coincidentally, I was driving a friend’s Audi. It had a 6
gear. I had to get it into 6th. I was running about 120KPH before
I could get the upshift. As long as I was up that high, 200KPH
seemed like a fine goal. So there I was, zooming along between Koln
and Aachen, and I saw this box that some idiot had dumped in the
middle of the road. Must have fallen off a lorry or something.
Shifted out into the fast lane to dodge it, and just as I blew past,
I realized that (A) it wasn’t a box, and (B) it really was moving.

It was a little light blue trabbi, going for all it was worth,
probably doing about 75-80KPH. As I blow by at 200+. Yeah. Started
coasting down right about there. I was coming into Aachen anyway.

Those things were just flat-out hazardous on the autobahn. I
honestly didn’t think the thing was moving until I got close enough
to ID it as a trabbi. And even then, it was only for a second or two
until I’d blown by.

As far as adventures go, many look a lot better with years of
hindsight than an honest recollection would paint them. I kept
notes. I refer to them from time to time, whenever I get too


If you think a lawn mower has been goosed motor wise, bring it to

Some of the states have the circuit, but Florida has the biggest
Lawn mower racing association. Now for something completely weird,
look up rock crawling. Not rock climbing, but crawling.

Aggie Granny Gear- low slow and more powerful. Gravity has hit so
low is a definite. Slow is my four wheel drive walker, and more
powerful, you don’t want to be behind me when I’ve eaten beans.

Hi Richard,

As always it’s lovely to hear from you.

There are just a few reminders of my own experiences. I now have an
ionic cleaner which is great for restoring the shine to my pieces. I
intend to take it to my next market stall and offer to clean people’s
jewellery while they browse mine.

However I do actually like some platina in my own jewellery though
at a certain point I chuck it in with the next run of the tumbler.

As for silver chains. I once encountered a guy at a market who
offered to supply a silver plated chain with his pieces for an
additional $10. At the time you could buy these display chains form
AJS for $1.50 each in a packet of 10. At least he was honest in his
description but with a markup in excess of 500% beyond extortionate
in his pricing. Mind you his jewellery was rubbish so I suppose he
was depending on the sucker born every minute.

I actually supply the same chains when appropriate with my pendants
unless the chain is fixed. I tell customers that the chains are
silver plated and intended for display and temporary wearing and they
can either attach the piece to their own chain or I can supply them a
925 silver chain complete with fineness stamp for $15, or $10 if it
is one of my more expensive items.

I can buy these from A&E Metals for $7.50.

I haven’t got around to working with Argentum yet. One of the
reasons for this is most of my work is cast by myself and for this I
use a combination of bench scrap, sprues and buttons, pure silver and
copper. I do know some people who seem to have an allergy to sterling
and gold so I suspect copper is the is the issue and I could make
fabricated pieces for them, but casting is a different matter.

All the best

An outfit in San Marcos has been fitting Miatas with V-8s for a

There’s enough business that they’re still going after more than 15

Where there’s a will, or a market, there’s a way.