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Yellow Film on Argentium Sterling Silver


#1

I love the non-tarnish argentium silver and have hardened it in my
home oven. I was pleasantly surprised when it really worked! The
yellow film on the piece when it comes out of the oven is hard to
remove, although I had read that it comes off with soap and water,
NOT! What is the best way to remove the film? I am new to
silversmithing and I’d like to heat-harden the argent silver jewelry
without hardening the bezel material which I make of fine silver
right now. The larimar piece I set recently worked well as the fine
silver bezel stayed soft enough to close after baking the whole
pendant at 550 degrees for about 40 min. If I use argent silver, 28g,
for the bezel material, will I have trouble closing the bezel over
the stone after I harden the piece in the oven? I would be great for
the customer to have a piece which is completely made of tarnish-free
silver. I understand that it is possible to polish off the germanium
layer, but it is difficult to know at what point that is. Thanks,
this is so new that my jewelry instructors aren’t really familiar
with all the aspects of argent silver.

Lynda Marie Keen

Marie
Lynda Keen Jewelry
www.northcrafts.com/keenjewelry/


#2

Marie

What is the best way to remove the film?

Pickle, I did a lot of research before I bought some and several
articles I read said to pickle it again, it worked for me. As far as
using Argentium for the bezel, I don’t think I would, Argentium will
get nearly twice as hard as regular sterling which means you will
have to press about 3 times as hard to get the bezel over from what
you are currently using and if you slip… could mean a new stone or
other setting.

Good luck
Terry


#3

Lynda Marie,

If I use argent silver, 28g, for the bezel material, will I have
trouble closing the bezel over the stone after I harden the piece
in the oven? I would be great for the customer to have a piece
which is completely made of tarnish-free silver. 

If you’re using fine silver for the bezel, your piece WILL be
tarnish-free… it’s the copper in sterling that causes tarnishing,
and fine silver (.999) doesn’t contain enough to cause tarnishing. So
you can construct the base of the piece from argentium silver and the
bezel from fine, heat harden it, and you’ll have a tarnish-free
construction.

Enjoy!
Karen Goeller


#4

Hello Lynda,

I love the non-tarnish argentium silver... The yellow film on the
piece when it comes out of the oven is hard to remove... I'd like
to heat-harden the argent silver jewelry without hardening the bezel
material which I make of fine silver.... 

Good questions… and you’ll be happy to hear that the answers are
pretty simple.

Re: the “yellow film”. This is normal and to be expected. It is a
light oxidization that is easy to pickle off. (I assume you know
about pickle since you mention that you’re doing your own bezels).
Another option is to polish the piece with Goddard’s polish cloths
which removes that light tarnish very quickly. I realize this may not
be the ideal solution if your work has little corners and crevasses
as most rings do. I’m told that the Goddard’s polishing paste works
well for this but I’ve never used it personally so I can’t say for
sure.

Re: the bezel hardening. Don’t worry, you won’t impart any hardness
to your fine silver bezels by baking them at the temperatures we’re
discussing. Fine silver doesn’t harden like the Argentium Sterling
does so basically it skates right through the baking process
unaffected. This I have done personally and the results are quite
satisfactory.

Finally, if you haven’t had taken a peek at my “Working with
Argentium” blog yet I humbly suggest you might find it worthwhile.
Both of the above issues, as well as my experiences with the Goddard’s
cloths, have been addressed on the blog. (Try the “Search” in the
right-hand column. It’s a blog-specific Google search so it works
pretty well.) To find the blog just follow the “blog” link from my
home site (http://www.touchmetal.com).

Cheers,
Trevor F.
in The City of Light
Visit TouchMetal.com at http://www.touchmetal.com


#5

Hi:

If you're using fine silver for the bezel, your piece WILL be
tarnish-free.... it's the copper in sterling that causes
tarnishing, and fine silver (.999) doesn't contain enough to cause
tarnishing. 

I have often wondered about this as I was told 2 different things.
One person said fine silver should not tarnish(which makes a lot of
sense) the other said it will just tarnish slower. I purchased some
wire a while back that was sold to me as.999 fine silver. I live on
Long Island Sound and used to work near an open window. I left my
wire spool on the window ledge for a few days (not thinking) and,
after just a few days, it was badly tarnished. Does this mean I was
sold something other than .999?

Thanks
Kim Starbard
Cove Beads


#6
If you're using fine silver for the bezel, your piece WILL be
tarnish-free.... it's the copper in sterling that causes
tarnishing, and fine silver (.999) doesn't contain enough to cause
tarnishing. So you can construct the base of the piece from
argentium silver and the bezel from fine, heat harden it, and
you'll have a tarnish-free construction. 

Actually, my experience shows that most tarnish is in fact composed
of sulfides of silver and not oxides. Even silver will however
oxidize in ozone. Have you ever noticed that you common sodium
bisulphate pickle doesn’t work so well on tarnish?


#7
I live on Long Island Sound and used to work near an open
window. I left my wire spool on the window ledge for a few days
(not thinking) and, after just a few days, it was badly tarnished.
Does this mean I was sold something other than.999? 

Even Fine silver will tarnish, albeit rather slowly. Sterling
tarnish is a combination of sulfides, mostly, while Fine is simple
silver oxide, mostly. Gases in the air are the culprit. If you live
in an area with a more acidic atmosphere (most industrialized area
or cities), it will oxidize readily. The more moist the air, the
more rapid the process. There is no such thing as tarnish-free
silver or silver alloy, it’s just a matter of degree. Simple
chemistry.

Some have found that the gases emitted in a hot showcase from the
glues in the fabrics and preservatives in the wood accelerate silver
and silver alloy tarnishing. Production pieces are usually treated
with one of a number of sealants or clear coatings, readily
available from many places like Rio or Stuller.

Best to all,

Wayne Emery
The Gemcutter


#8

Karen,

If you're using fine silver for the bezel, your piece WILL be
tarnish-free.... it's the copper in sterling that causes
tarnishing, and fine silver (.999) doesn't contain enough to cause
tarnishing. So you can construct the base of the piece from
argentium silver and the bezel from fine, heat harden it, and
you'll have a tarnish-free construction. 

Silver whether it is fine or not will tarnish. Tarnish is a silver
sulfide film caused by silver reacting with sulfur. The sulfur is in
the air due to burning of fossil fuels and volcanic activity. So even
if it is not in contact with sulfur bearing compounds it will
eventually tarnish. Sterling does tarnish faster because the copper
forms sulfides at a faster rate then the silver but both will
eventually tarnish.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#9
Sterling tarnish is a combination of sulfides, mostly, while Fine
is simple silver oxide, mostly. 

Um, isn’t it the other way around? Copper (in sterling) oxidizes,
fine silver taernishes primarily in response to sulphur.

Noel


#10
Um, isn't it the other way around? Copper (in sterling) oxidizes,
fine silver taernishes primarily in response to sulphur.

While copper oxidizes more readily than Fine silver, the
sulfidization rate is considerably greater for copper (Sterling) than
Fine. Place some Sterling and some Fine in a brown paper bag for 2
days, and you’ll see the results of sulfidization…not oxidation.
Fine silver oxidizes readily, albeit slowly.

Wayne


#11

Hi,

The article in this months (Feb 06) Lapidary journal, the guy who
originally developed AS, baked his at 300, the rest of the sites on
this item, recommend 500 or 550, I have done mine at 450 and 500
and see no difference in the hardness I get. I leave them in 30
minutes After baking AS though you will have a light yellow to tan
coating, pickle to remove. If you are doing rings, size before
hardening, I buggered up a ring stretcher forgetting to do that.

As has been said, pickle easily removes any discoloration that has
been made by heat hardening

It may not have been clear in the article (which I have not yet
seen—perhaps I forgot to renew my subscription?): Argentium
Sterling can be hardened at temperatures lower than 580 degrees F.,
but the time should be longer for lower temperatures. 365 degrees F
is considered to be the minimum temperature. At 365 degrees F, the
Argentium Sterling should be heated for two hours. At any
temperature, it is ok to heat for longer. The extra time has no
negative effect.

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com/


#12

A great big thanks to you Cynthia and Trevor and all you folks out
there with a seemingly infinite well of experience you are lovingly
willing to pass on…

Much appreciation.
Grace S.


#13
Sterling tarnish is a combination of sulfides, mostly, while Fine
is simple silver oxide, mostly. 

Um, isn’t it the other way around? Copper (in sterling) oxidizes,
fine silver taernishes primarily in response to sulphur.

Yes Noel, it is, inasmuch as silver oxide is white! I even think I
heard that the white residue on f. inst. Sterling after pickling is
silver oxide. Perhaps our living chemistry encyclopaedia John Burgess
could clarify?

Kind regards

Niels Lovschal
Contemporary and Viking Age Jewellery
Classes in Jewellery Techniques
Bornholm, Denmark


#14

Cynthia

Thanks for adding to my response, I will start extending my times
accordingly. Terri Haag wrote the article, and in the footnotes
lists your site, The Society for American Silversmiths, and a couple
of others as additional sites for She also used several
pictures of your work in her article.

She did say 300 in the article and in the same breath cookies, but
as she is from South Africa and Johns, England, 300C is 570F if my
math is right, but the cookies led me astray.

Terry


#15

Will as reticulate? (After usual depletion guilding.)

Also can one enamel over it, without depletion guilding…or with
depletion guilding?

I’m not going to ask if it will stand soldering with IT or with
eutectic solder without melting; that would be too good to be
true!!!

Thanks!


#16
nasmuch as silver oxide is white! I even think I heard that the
white residue on f. inst. Sterling after pickling is silver oxide. 

Silver doesn’t like to form a stable oxide easily at room
temperature from just exposure to atmospheric oxygen. Just heating it
will not make it convert to stable silver oxide either it releases
the oxygen as it cools. To make silver oxide you would need a
reaction like combining silver nitrate and sodium hydroxide the
precipitate of this reaction is silver oxide (don’t try this with out
proper safety gear as it is a fairly active reaction). And silver
oxide is a grey to black powder. Tarnish on metallic silver (sterling
or fine) is a silver sulfide not silver oxide.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#17
Will as reticulate? (After usual depletion guilding.) Also can one
enamel over it, without depletion guilding.....or with depletion
guilding? I'm not going to ask if it will stand soldering with IT
or with eutectic solder without melting; that would be too good to
be true!!!! 

Tom, I wrote a technical article about Argentium Sterling that was
published by SNAG News. (Every SNAG member receives the newsletter.
SNAG is at www.snagmetalsmith.org

The article is on my website, which is at http://www.cynthiaeid.com/

I recently updated the article, and Rio is publishing it in booklet
form. There will be copies available at Rio Grande’s Catalog in
Motion in Tucson----I’ll be there at the Argentium booth in the
ballroom, demoing, and answering questions about Argentium Sterling.
I would love to meet other Orchidians!

There is also a lot of in Trevor’s blog, which is at
http://www.touchmetal.com/blog/argentium-blog.html

Argentium Sterling does not reticulate anywhere nearly as well as
800/200 alloy, which is sold as reticulation silver.

Currently, Argentium Sterling is difficult to enamel on due to its
lower melting point. Peter Johns and Stern-Leach are working on a
suitable formulation of Argentium Sterling with a higher melting
temperature that will be more suitable to enameling.

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com/