As previous readers of my blog, and followers of Thing-a-Day 2009, know – I work in fine (pure) silver, mostly making decorative chains, but I also dabble in PMC (precious metal clay). I have never liked to add sterling silver to my work as sterling silver tarnishes so easily – and fine silver doesn’t!! So I feel that sterling doesn’t fit in with the style of jewellery I want to promote at Solunar Silver Studio. Now the only drawback of fine silver is that it is a little weaker than sterling silver. Generally this doesn’t matter but it is a real problem with making earwires for earrings…especially if you hope to sell them. I am happy to wear fine silver earwires because I am aware that I might have to reshape them a bit if the grandchildren swing on my earrings!! … But you can’t sell earrings with that warning on them!!
For a while now, I have been aware of the existence of a metal called Argentium – which is basically sterling silver with about 1% of germanium mixed in with it. Now that little bit of germanium has the benefit of making the sterling it is mixed with much more tarnish resistant and it makes it even stronger than standard sterling silver…….I thought – “Bring it on!!” – but what is this???? It isn’t available in the UK!!!! WHAT!!!!!!! How cruel life is!! But that is all in the past as since the beginning of June, it has been available in limited forms from one supplier in the UK – Cookson Gold. It is currently only supplied in sheet, wire, earposts and a few other odds and ends – but no earwires!!
Ho-hum! Out comes the jig thing I use on occasion, and in goes an order for a couple of metres of 0.7 Argentium wire to have a play with.
So today I have been having a play – and I am sold! It makes some very acceptable earwires. It is surprisingly strong and springy and I do believe I am going to order some more…and at last….. I can start making some earrings to go with the rest of the Solunar Silver Studio jewellery range I make! Of course – it will take a bit of time to see how quickly it shows signs of tarnish but so far – so good……Argentium Rules….UK!!
My apologies to condron.us readers – I have been neglecting posting recently!