Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Argentium Silver - Learning Resources 1

Because many fellow artists have inquired about Argentium silver, I thought I'd start compiling a list of resources with information about working with Argentium.

The obvious place to start is the Argentium Silver Guild. Their tech tips sheet advises that Argentium is different from conventional sterling in that it glows a paler color when heated and cools more slowly than traditional sterling, which translates to using more care when heating and quenching.

Argentium is more ductile than traditional sterling, giving better forming and engraving properties.  Heat-hardening can be used with Argentium to produce a much higher hardness than traditional sterling. Joining can be accomplished with soldering, with a few caveats compared to traditional methods, but the ability to fuse Argentium to other metals, including fine silver, gold, platinum, copper, brass & steel is a marked departure from regular sterling.

Casting with Argentium sterling requires a few modifications due to its different cooling properties. Polishing with the aim of maximizing the huge advantage of Argentium's tarnish resistance requires a bit of forethought, since some procedures may remove the protective germanium oxide layer passivation layer. Formation of this layer can be accelerated by heat treatment.

PDF  and video guides are available at the Guild download center. These include video clips from Ronda Coryell's excellent video series.