Argentium sterling silver
Argentium silver 935 is a modern sterling silver alloy, containing 93.5% silver. The traditional sterling alloy (92.5% silver + 7.5% copper) is modified by removing some of the copper and adding the metalloid germanium.
Argentium silver 960 is a higher-purity jewellery alloy also containing germanium. It meets the standard for Britannia silver (95.84% silver) hallmarking.
Origins and description
Argentium silver is the result of research by Peter Johns at the Art and Design Research Institute (ADRI), School of Art & Design, Middlesex University. The project began in 1990 with research on the effects of germanium additions to silver alloys. Germanium was discovered to impart the following properties to sterling silver:
- Firescale elimination
- High tarnish resistance
- Precipitation hardening and simple heat-hardening properties
- Increased ductility
- Increased thermal and electrical resistance (making alloys suitable for welding and laser forming)
- Environmental advantages (associated with not having to remove or plate over firescale)
Many of these properties significantly affect the traditional methods of working silver. For instance the absence of firescale eliminates tedious and time-consuming steps required by the silver worker using traditional sterling silver. It also eliminates the need for plating the final product which is often done on manufactured items because of the problems introduced by firescale. Tarnish resistance is of significant importance to both silver workers and the wearer of silver jewellery.
Argentium Silver is patented and trademarked by Argentium Silver Company, UK.
Traditional sterling silver has a solidus melting temperature of 1475°F (802°C) and a liquidus flow point of 1650°F (899°C). The solidus of Argentium 935 Sterling silver is 1477°F (803°C) and a liquidus of 1657°F (903°C). The solidus of Argentium 960 silver is 1661°F (905°C) and a liquidus of 1697°F (925°C).
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- Edge, A. M.; V. E. Edge; J. J. Edge (2005). "Investigation on the Quality of Enamel on Germanium Silver". The Goldsmiths' Company 'Technical Bulletin', Issue 2: 8–10.
- Eid, Cynthia (July 2005). "Argentium Sterling Silver". SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) Technical Newsletter. 13.