We have recently introduced argentium silver (935) into our workshop to make our initial necklaces and personalised necklaces in silver. Here is some information on argentium and why we have started using it in our jewellery collection.
What is argentium silver ?
Argentium silver is an 'alloy' or mixture of metals which has a high content of pure silver mixed with a small amount of germanium. This makes it a very fine form of silver and gives it some very beneficial qualities in the making of silver jewellery.
How are sterling silver and argentium silver different?
Sterling silver is a mixture of pure silver and other alloys, usually copper. Sterling silver has 92.5% pure silver, which is why sterling is often marked 925. It is the copper in sterling silver which can cause the metal to tarnish over time with exposure to perspiration, uv light and particularly anything containing sulphur. Argentium silver contains more pure silver than sterling silver and has no copper in the alloy. The addition of germanium means that argentium is more tarnish resistant than sterling silver and has a brighter white finish when polished.
What is the history of argentium silver ?
Argentium silver is a relatively new product and was only developed in 1990 by a researcher, Peter Johns at the Art and Design Institute in the School of Art and Design at Middlesex University. The team developed the new metal while investigating the effect of adding germanium to silver alloys. The team found that the new silver alloy had lots of unique characteristics such as being more tarnish resistant and was also resistant to fire-stain. Fire-stain is a blue to purplish hue that can develop on metals such as sterling silver when it is exposed to heat in the soldering process. It can take aggressive toxic abrasives to remove fire-stain and it is a pet-peeve for many jewellers as it often doesn't show up until the polishing stage and it can be very time consuming to remove it. The fact that this new argentium silver doesn't require fire-stain removal means that it is also a more environmentally friendly material as it doesn't require harsh abrasives to remove it.
Why have we introduced argentium silver ?
Argentium silver is a very durable material and we have found it be resistant to wear and scratches. It is also up to 7 times more tarnish resistant than sterling silver making it very easy to care for. We also love the bright polished finish of argentium which can be polished to a mirror finish. Argentium silver is produced and patented by the Argentium Silver Company in the UK and they only use recycled silver for the production of the metal and guarantee traceability of the raw silver. This again means that the material has less environmental impact overall as it reduces the demand for mining silver ore.
Are all of our silver necklaces argentium ?
We are now using argentium silver for most of our silver disc necklaces and bracelets. While the discs are made from argentium, our chains are still sterling silver. Any of our jewellery that is made using the lost wax casting technique, are still made with sterling silver. We treat all of our sterling silver chain in an anti-tarnish bath to help slow down the rate of tarnish on the jewellery. We always recommend keeping your silver jewellery dry and storing it in a zip locked bag with an anti-tarnish strip if possible. Your sterling silver chain can also be kept bright with the regular use of a polishing cloth.
How do you clean argentium silver ?
We love argentium because it is so low maintenance and tarnish resistant. You can use a soft cloth or polishing cloth to remove finger prints and to gently polish your piece. We of course recommend taking the usual care of your silver jewellery and avoiding contact with chlorine, perfume and tan and take your piece off in the shower and for sports. All silver jewellery is best stored away from a humid environment so avoid storing your piece on the bathroom window for example.
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We are currently seeking jewellery makers both full-time and part-time to join our team for the months of October, November and December in our workshop in Rush, North Co. Dublin. The ideal candidate will have the following skills: