Argentium silver is a novel silver form swiftly gaining favor among metal artists and jewelers. Jewelers are particularly fond of this kind of silver. Traditional sterling silver is more prone to tarnishing than Argentium silver because sterling silver has a lower amount of germanium than Argentium silver.
Because it is softer and simpler to work with than sterling silver, Argentium silver is an excellent option for individuals who wish to create their jewelry or other metal art forms.
Because of its malleability and smooth texture, Argentium silver is an excellent material for those individuals who are interested in creating their jewelry or other works of metal art.
The durability and aesthetic quality of jewelry manufactured with Argentium silver are superior to those of jewelry made with sterling silver. Additionally, compared to sterling silver, tarnish is less prone to develop on Argentium silver.
What is Argentium Silver?
Argentium is a silver alloy that has just lately begun to acquire popularity. It was created not too long ago. You’ll want to sit down for this one because it will blow your mind: Argentium is a kind of sterling silver.
The level of silver purity that goes into the production of Argentium results in the creation of a few distinct types of precious metal. The most frequently found variety comprises 93.5 percent silver, 5.3 percent copper, and 1.2 percent germanium. The latter produces a tremendous difference in working characteristics between regular sterling silver and Argentium.
Argentium is sometimes described as “935 silver,” which, although technically accurate, conceals that it contains germanium. In other words, you’ll encounter this designation occasionally.
Argentium is often regarded as the most significant innovation to occur in the field of silversmithing during the past couple of centuries. Those who advocate for it assert that it is an improvement to sterling in every respect.
The intention behind the creation of the alloy was to produce sterling silver resistant to fire stain, which is caused when copper in sterling silver oxidizes.
This was accomplished through the use of the alloy. It would appear that the germanium oxidizes more selectively than the copper, which stops the fire scale from developing.
How the two types of silver are worked produces the most notable distinction between Argentium silver and sterling silver. There has been a significant marketing push for its application in jewelry, although the average person won’t be able to tell the difference between the two with their bare eyes.
What is Sterling Silver?
The silver alloy known as sterling silver is the one that is worked with the most frequently and is used to make a broad variety of jewelry and other beautiful products. Even while you occasionally see a designation like “pure sterling silver” put on a piece of jewelry, sterling silver is an alloy.
“925 silver” is primarily synonymous with “sterling silver.” This is because both terms stem from the stamp that is placed on the metal. The great majority of sterling silver comprises a straightforward combination of elements: 92.5 percent pure silver and 7.5 percent copper.
The remaining 7.5% can potentially be any other type of metal; the remaining 92.5% matters. Despite this, the only additional particles often present in that 7.5 percent are impurities, such as components of solder, which can occasionally be found in batches of silver refined at home.
Since sterling silver is considerably more durable than pure silver, this alloy is typically preferred for jewelry production. Particularly beneficial are items such as rings and bracelets that are worn often and frequently come into contact with other objects.
When the metal has become overly rigid due to work-hardening that occurred throughout the working process, you can get around the increased hardness by heating the metal.
Despite the presence of copper, which has a higher melting point at1984 degrees Fahrenheit (1085 degrees Celsius), the point at which sterling silver melts is way lower than fine silver.
While sterling silver burns at 1640 degrees Fahrenheit (893 degrees Celsius), fine silver melts at 1761 degrees Fahrenheit (961 degrees Celsius).
Overall, sterling silver is an alloy composed of 92.5% silver that is appropriate for use in jewelry and ornamental purposes. This is especially true for silver items that may come into regular contact with other objects.
So, How Is Argentium Silver Different From Sterling Silver?
Compositionally speaking, Argentium and sterling silver couldn’t be more different. As previously mentioned, sterling silver is a standard alloy used in jewelry production. It is made up of a combination of pure silver and many other alloys.
On the other hand, Argentium has a higher percentage of pure silver based on the grade (935 has 93.5percent pure silver, while 960 has 96percent pure silver), with the remaining portion being comprised of various alloys such as a trace amount of germanium.
Because of the one-of-a-kind contribution of germanium, Argentium silver possesses several advantageous qualities, including resistance to the formation of fire stains, enhanced durability, and a higher melting point, which directly correlates to a higher temperature and flow point.
Because it can be fused and welded considerably more efficiently than sterling silver, Argentium silver is frequently preferred by metalsmiths. This is because sterling silver is challenging to work with in these ways. In addition, its resistance to tarnishing is seven times that of sterling silver.
The Variations Between Using Argentium Silver Vs. Sterling Silver as Jewelry:
When considering the end-user or the individual wearing the jewelry, there are just a few distinctions. Argentium is more resistant to tarnish than sterling silver, which means that it will keep its color for a more extended period with less upkeep. This is the primary selling point for consumers.
Exposure to air will cause the sterling silver to alter its color, and the deeper portions will become darker after some time. This is particularly evident in ancient sterling silver, which is why many contemporary artists choose to antique their creations before selling them.
Argentium will keep its brilliant white color for a more extended period, much like fine silver; however, unlike fine silver, the surface of Argentium will not be as easily scratched or dented.
Argentium is not the material to seek if you want something that looks like ancient silver. On the other hand, if you want something that shines like a mirror and has a dazzling polish as high-purity silver does, then this is the perfect material for you!
The price is the only factor that is different for the customer in the end: The cost of an item created using Argentium is almost invariably higher than that of a thing made with standard sterling silver.
Does Tarnish Develop on Argentium Silver?
Compared to sterling silver, Argentium silver does not tarnish quickly, which is one of the material’s primary advantages. But does Argentium silver ever become tarnished?
Even though it does not tarnish quickly, you should still ensure that the tools you use to work with Argentium silver do not have any excess residue from other metals.
If they do, this could result in cross-contamination, which would cause your work to develop a tarnished appearance. When working with other alloys, your polishing buffs should be kept in a distinct location from those used for Argentium, if feasible.
Said, if you remove the copper from silver and replace it with germanium, you will see a considerable boost in the metal’s resistance to tarnishing.
But because of this minimal distinction between Argentium and sterling silver, the resulting metal is considerably more robust, whiter, and less complicated to weld and fuse.
However, it also can harden at lower temperatures, which is fantastic news for anyone working in the silversmithing trade.
There are Several Reasons Why Argentium Is Preferable to Sterling Silver:
Because a piece manufactured from Argentium has a more excellent silver content than standard sterling silver, the final jewelry has a lot whiter, much more brilliant look that is virtual as similar to the appearance of platinum as it is to sterling silver.
Argentium was judged to be a “whiter” metal than rhodium compared to the standard color measuring technique developed by CEILAB. Rhodium is the component responsible for giving white gold its distinctive hue.
When you wear jewelry manufactured from Argentium, rather than sterling silver, it will appear like you are using platinum or white gold. This is a significant improvement over the appearance of wearing sterling silver.
The fact that Argentium does not tarnish quickly is by far my favorite quality of this metal. I won’t go as far as to claim it doesn’t spoil since this isn’t an ideal world, but I’ve had clients report that they’ve gone two to three years before having to worry about cleaning their items.
I’m not saying that it doesn’t tarnish because it does. When I used conventional sterling silver, I had to clean each item after each show.
This is not a joke. When I used traditional sterling silver. However, once I transitioned to Argentium, I found that I seldom needed to re-polish any of my items, which made me one happy camper. Just like you, I have a lot of other things to do with my time that are far more essential than polishing my silver.
But what exactly makes Argentium so resistant to oxidation? The structure itself holds the key to its success. The typical ratio of silver to copper in sterling silver is 92.5% silver to 7.5% copper. The element Argentium consists of silver at 93.5%, copper at 5.5%, and germanium at 1%.
When a piece of sterling silver has a tarnished appearance, this is caused by the copper in the alloy interacting with oxygen in the air and turning colors. However, the germanium forms a thin barrier between the copper and the air, which either significantly slows down the process of tarnishing the copper or prevents it entirely.
You might be asking yourself at this point, “If combining copper and silver causes the problem of tarnishing, then why not simply use pure silver and be done with it?” This is a reasonable question to ask. The response, which is also a good question, is that durability is essential.
Because pure silver is so very malleable, jewelry manufactured from it would not be able to withstand more than a few uses. Because I want to make jewelry that you’ll be proud to wear for decades to come, I can’t make my designs with pure silver because it won’t work.
Copper was added to silver, which caused the metal to become far more durable. However, adding that minuscule quantity of germanium made that strength far better.
Argentium sterling silver contradicts expectations since its composition is far more similar to pure silver, yet it is significantly more durable than sterling silver. Because of this, it is the ideal alloy for a piece of jewelry that is worn frequently and so has to be able to withstand normal wear and tear.
Many people have allergies as a regular part of their day-to-day lives. Because Argentium does not contain any nickel at all, as seen in the image above, it is the ideal alloy for jewelry that may be worn daily without causing concern.
Because germanium is also inert, Argentium’s typical sterling silver is superseded as the metal with the best hypoallergenic properties. Because of this, jewelry made of Argentium is an excellent choice for any recipient.
In conclusion, Argentium is an environmentally friendly alloy. The developers of Argentium ensure that all of the silver it employs can be traced back to its source, as it is constructed entirely out of recycled silver.
Utilizing silver that has been recycled may seem trivial; nonetheless, its positive effects on the natural world are significant. Recycling silver not only removes the need for mining, which avoids mining waste and mining groundwater contamination, but it also uses just 5% of the energy required to refine silver once it has been extracted from the ore.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How long does sterling silver last?
Sterling silver will tarnish over time due to exposure to the air and other elements. To keep your sterling silver jewelry looking like new, it is essential to clean it regularly and store it in a cool, dry place. When properly cared for, sterling silver can last a lifetime!
How much is sterling silver?
The price of sterling silver varies depending on the market conditions at the time of purchase. For example, the price may be higher when silver prices are low and lower when silver prices are high. However, the cost of sterling silver is typically much lower than that of gold or platinum.
Is sterling silver hypoallergenic?
Yes, sterling silver is considered hypoallergenic. This means that it is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction in people sensitive to other metals. Sterling silver is an excellent option for metal allergies, as it is less likely to trigger a response.
Argentium silver is an excellent choice for those seeking an alternative to sterling silver. It is more tarnish resistant and easier to care for, making it a good option for those who want their jewelry to last. However, it is essential to note that Argentium silver is not entirely impervious to tarnishing and still requires some care and cleaning to keep it looking its best.
Sterling silver is the traditional choice for jewelry and has been used for centuries. It is a beautiful metal that can last a lifetime with proper care. However, it is more susceptible to tarnishing than Argentium silver and requires more frequent cleaning. Ultimately, the choice of metal comes down to personal preference.