Have you heard of Argentium silver? Are you wondering what exactly it is and how it compares to the Sterling Silver we all know and love? Well in this article we are going to tell you what it is and the benefits and differences to the Sterling Silver you grew up knowing.
Both Sterling Silver and Argentium Silver are used in a large selection of jewelry items. They are used in silversmithing and wire wrapping techniques for promise rings, gemstone earrings, charm bracelets, tie clips, watches, ladies pendants and so much more. I also wrote an article on its scientific and healing properties in my gemstone blog series which will be released on November 2nd, 2022.
First of all Argentium and Sterling Silver are both types of Sterling Silver and both are alloys. This means they are Silver mixed with other metals such as copper to create a silver that is more durable and more cost conscious. The name Argentium comes from the latin name argentum which means white and shining and the addition of the metal Germanium into the alloy. The addition of this metal is what makes the characteristics different.
Sterling Silver is made from 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% pure copper. It is mined from the earth. It is malleable enough to bend and shape into all sorts of designs and uses. It will patina or change color with heat and acidic elements, but it can be polished back to its original shine. It can be soldered, which is the joining of two pieces together with another binding element through heat. It can be melted and poured into molds, hammered, bent and shaped into wire or sheets. It can be heated to soften it or to harden it when needed. This is what makes it so popular in jewelry making, in both wire wrap designs and silver smith pieces. It is fairly inexpensive in the world of jewelry metals compared to pure silver and gold, which make it desirable.
Argentium Silver is also an alloy however it is made from 93.5% Silver and 5.5% Copper which comes from recycled sterling silver. The remaining 1% is from Germanium which is mined. So this silver is considered to be an environmentally conscious material since most of the materials are recycled. Because it contains silver and copper it has all the same properties of traditional Sterling, however it also has benefits from the higher purity of Silver and the Germanium. It can be soldered, but it can also be fused to itself using heat alone to melt the pieces and create a super strong bond or melding. It also can be heated in a super hot oven to harden which is wonderful if you need it to be soft during production but need the finished piece to be strong. This is wonderful because the heating process in an oven doesn’t create any fire scale at all, just a slight frost coating which can easily be hand polished. The process also creates a slight germanium coating to the surface which makes tarnishing take longer. It will create less fire scale during fusing and soldering which makes it easier to clean. It doesn’t tarnish as quickly because of the lower copper content. The cost is only a fraction higher than .925 Sterling.
A few other differences that exist between the traditional Sterling and Argentium are that they have different melting temperatures and they work harden (becomes less malleable when working with the material) at different rates. This means that you have to slightly change how you approach using each material and learn how to make the most out of both.
Sterling Silver and Argentium Silver are wonderful materials for creating beautiful jewelry and so much more. So now you know that Argentium Silver is Sterling Silver with a few added benefits.
My work is made with Argentium Silver because of these benefits and I love working with it. Check out my full line in my shop.
Please feel free to comment with any questions about Sterling and Argentium silver you feel I have missed. Have a blessed day and remember to check out my many other gemstone blogs to find your favorites.