Daily Wire Tip Aug. 8: Argentium Silver Care

By on August 7, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
August 8, 2010

Question:

I have fallen in love with your Anti-Tarnish Sterling Silver wire. Its sparkle looks like diamonds in the sun! But will it hold up over time, and do I need to do anything special to keep its shine?

-DeanaRae in Denver, Colorado

Answer:

Argentium Sterling Silver is the most important advancement in silver to-date, and my personal favorite white metal to work with. I have been using Argentium Silver wire since it became available in 2005.

Living in a high-tarnish area of the United States, I have left a finished piece of Argentium Silver jewelry sit on a shelf for a year. The end result was a slight blonde color in places that I easily wiped clean with a piece of a t-shirt! In contrast, my sterling silver pieces gather black tarnish in a matter of weeks. Research shows that by using an ionic cleaner or simply using a polishing cloth will keep your Argentium Silver sparkling for years to come.

Last year I was interviewed about my use of Argentium wire in my jewelry designs by David Federman, Editor in Chief of Colored Stone magazine. Here is his response as to why Argentium is tarnish resistant.

“Although germanium oxidizes faster than copper, it does not discolor like copper. Instead, it turns transparent and forms a protective barrier against further oxidation. Don’t get the wrong idea, however. Argentium does not prevent oxidation. But because oxidized Argentium is lighter in color, it doesn’t have the black appearance of traditional tarnish. The alloy simply allows silver to stay whiter for much longer periods and to have its shine restored far more easily.”

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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6 Comments

  1. avatar

    Draco Dubois Camacho

    August 8, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Wow! Seems like a new learning for me. Thanks a lot.

  2. avatar

    Carol Braden-Williams

    August 8, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    I have also been using Argentium tarnish resistant sterling silver wire in my jewelry designs since shortly after it’s introduction and I can’t say enough good things about it. I have even noticed that it stays clean longer. My conventional sterling jewelry tends to quickly collect a film of makeup or atmospheric materials when I wear it so it requires frequent cleaning. The Argentium pieces I wear not only resist tarnish; they stay clean and sparkling much longer. My customers love it too. It does take a little time to get used to working with because it is a little stiffer than regular sterling silver. In fact, in my jewelry making classes, I start my students out with Argentium to eliminate that adjustment period for them.

  3. avatar

    judy hearney

    August 9, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Can you mix Argentium with Sterling? I haven’t found clasps in Argentium that I like as well as some of the sterling ones. Can you use a sterling chain with an Argentium pendant? I have heard that it is not a good idea but have no idea if that was correct or the reasoning behind it. I would appreciate your input.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      August 10, 2010 at 10:33 am

      I have no idea why you were told that you should not put an argentium clasp on a sterling silver chain or vise versa. The Wire-Sculpture Faculty and our personal students as well as I do it all the time! The only information I found is that you should not mix the two metals for soldering or casting projects.

  4. avatar

    Kathleen Bianchi

    August 11, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    I just wish all silver was Argentium. I started using it in my wire-working about 3 years ago when it became widely available and I like to use it to make jumpring chain maille, which in traditional silver tarnishes much to fast.

  5. avatar

    Lacyblu

    August 12, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Argentium is the ONLY Silver wire I use in my designs…As previously cited, the silver simply sparkles, it does not tarnish black and my customers adore it…For storage of my Silver Wire and Sterling or Argentium jewelry, I use a 1 inch square of 3M Anti-tarnish strips per large large box and nothing tarnishes…Not even after a year…Argentium wire costs about the same as Sterling wire yet the longevity of the shine lasts much longer…Finding gauges of Argetium in 16, 14, 12, etc is much harder to do though…It takes some web searching…And some haggling…LOL…

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