Monday, April 14, 2008

Argentium Sterling Silver

There is a new silver in town. It is called argentium silver. Actually it has been around for a few years but I know I have not heard a lot about it till now and I wanted to share so you will now know about it too. It is actually a type of sterling silver that has some additional alloys in it that makes it more resistant to tarnish. What this means is that your silver remains shiny for weeks, months, even years. You can occasionally clean it, if you choose to, with a soft cloth to remove fingerprints or smudges and keep it in pristine condition.

There are advantages that jewelers have when using argentium silver. It is easier to work with and the finished jewelry piece is twice the hardness of traditional sterling silver. It is also resistant to firescale, a finish or coating sterling will get when it is heated, that needs to be removed so the silver can reveal its shine. Because the removal of the firescale takes time, the cost of the final jewelry piece is more with sterling because of the labor involved in finishing the piece. Argentium silver also has environmental advantages. Because it does not produce firescale, harsh and hazardous chemicals are not needed to clean the silver

Argentium Sterling Silver was developed by Peter Johns, quite by accident, in 1990. Peter was approached by a European company that was originally interested in testing the effects of adding geranium to silver alloys, for fiber optic and medical purposes. Their interest then extended into seeing if it would be of any benefit to the jewelry industry. What John's did find out was that it was very workable and that it left clean castings (no firescale). Ten years of research went into testing this alloy which further revealed it other positive qualities.

Now, Argentium Silver Co. Ltd. in the United Kingdom has the trademarked alloy used in this silver. It is currently produced under license by Stern-Leach Co. in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

This may be information than you wanted to know, but I think it is interesting to know the history of how something new is developed.


Helen Read said...

Pretty interesting, I think! Being an art teacher - 3 of my classes this semester are jewelry classes - and anything involving less firescale, less time in finishing, and more durability interest me! Thanks for sharing this. I've only heard of argentium, but didn't know much about it.

maryannartist said...

Glad I could help. I hope this is useful for more artists and people who like sterling but don't want to deal with the care as well.