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Thread: Is Argentium going to replace stirling silver?

  1. #1

    Default Is Argentium going to replace stirling silver?

    From what I've read it sounds like it should but i can't find a uk supplier!?

  2. #2
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    Why should it replace STERLING SILVER, is there not room for both alloys. My professional silversmith and goldsmith colleagues who have tried the alloy tell me it is no replacement for standard or sterling silver. I am told that not many UK bullion dealers hold stock these days because of problems with the people who hold the alloy patent and also as professionals, like myself who buy large quantities of silver do not want it.
    Make with sterling silver, I have used it for the past 50 years without any problems and see no reason to change.
    James

  3. #3
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    Argentium has its place. It's useful for pieces that you want to fuse, rather than solder, and is excellent for things like loop in loop chains. It balls up beautifully for headpins etc, and has good tarnish resistance. It also heat hardens well. However, it's certainly not a replacement for sterling, and in many applications (especially pieces made from sheet) is much harder to work with.

    You can buy it in the UK from Argex - they don't have a full e-commerce site, but are happy to take orders by telephone. There were some issues early on with their suppliers version of the alloy, but I am told these have now been resolved. I find it very sad that it's yet another example of a British invention going overseas.

  4. #4

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    Don't get me wrong, I do love stErling silver now I'm beginning to understand it - I love it even more now i can spell it!
    But surely it is far from being problem free! stopping oxygen getting into my silver casts is still the thorn in my side.
    ...I remembered i did buy some Reflections silver from cooksons months ago with a mind to finding out the difference myself, still got it. any thoughts on Reflections silver?

  5. #5
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    Any thoughts? Yes, it doesn't ball well, often get a dimple in it and it granulates, what I mean it breaks easily when soldering as it fractures and causes a heat sink, so it tries to solidify and change shape one side of the heat line or other. It isn't like sterling but it has it's uses.

  6. #6
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    If you use it for specialist reasons, as detailed by George, then the tarnish resistance is just a bonus, and you need not even mention it at the point of sale. After all, it is hallmarked as sterling and to the average punter, sterling already has sterling qualities.

    If however you are adding a premium and trying to explain that it is a new alloy, but still hallmarked 925, you might well be regarded with some cynicism, even if armed with a flyer. After all how do you show it’s not all smoke and mirrors?

    I note Steve, that in another thread, you were told you should sell it cheaper as you’re not a proper jeweller. In my book if you make jewellery and people buy it, then you are a proper jeweller. Unless of course you make excuses for yourself and tell people you only took it up yesterday.
    Regards, Dennis.

  7. #7
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    I was initially quite excited about argentium. I did a course in Birmingham with Cynthia Eid who's a great advocate for it. I soon discovered that you can't enamel on it and it shatters very easily if you put any pressure on it when soldering. I carried on using it for head pins until Cooksons stopped supplying it, so now I use Reflections just for head pins. For everything else I use sterling.

  8. #8
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    I agree that Argentium is only good for certain things. When I first heard about it I was very excited too and made everything in Argentium, however soon discovered that it was rather a pain as I couldn't fuse anything properly despite doing everything there is for a good joint. I initially used Argentium from Rio Grande, but it worked out rather expensive, then I heard about Argex, but they had problems with their Argentium, Cookson stopped selling it. So, after contempating whether I should carry on with Argentium or not, I decided not and started using Reflections. I must say, I like Reflections, despite what Braggen said, I've never had any problems with it. It solders well, the headpins come out nice and smooth and the only bad batch of Reflections I had was the very recent one, which I sent back to Cooksons and they said they've sent it to their lab.

    I don't do casting so cannot advise you on that :-)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis View Post
    If you use it for specialist reasons, as detailed by George, then the tarnish resistance is just a bonus, and you need not even mention it at the point of sale. After all, it is hallmarked as sterling and to the average punter, sterling already has sterling qualities.

    If however you are adding a premium and trying to explain that it is a new alloy, but still hallmarked 925, you might well be regarded with some cynicism, even if armed with a flyer. After all how do you show it’s not all smoke and mirrors?

    I note Steve, that in another thread, you were told you should sell it cheaper as you’re not a proper jeweller. In my book if you make jewellery and people buy it, then you are a proper jeweller. Unless of course you make excuses for yourself and tell people you only took it up yesterday.
    Regards, Dennis.
    What I meant Dennis is that as I am not a jewellery shop some people are unwilling to pay anyway near jewellery shop prices, I have only been doing this for around three years but I don't make excuses at all, I believe in what I do and think a lot of my stuff is a greater quality that what is available commercially. If I haven't yet learned to do things then I generally say and pass that aspect of the work on but having said that I try to concentrate on carving wax and casting the resultant forms making them into cufflinks, lapel pins etc, just started making some necklaces, bracelets etc in the last year too, sorry I am rambling now. But I make jewellery, I sell jewellery and consider myself a jeweller, so it's the same in my book too.

  10. #10
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    For my $0.02 i would say no; Argentium is 935 rather that 925 if i recall correctly, an as pointed out there is no hallmarking for this. But more to the point, i think is more of a matter of public perception, its just not well known outside the craft/industry. I have used it for personal uses though particularly for malle. if i recall you need to heat it after construction (cant recall the temp, but i was low like 200 C) to create the oxide coating which protects/enhances the shine.

    Julian

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