Argentium Silver vs. Sterling Silver for Balled Head Pins

Argentium silver vs sterling silver

sterling silver balled head pin on top vs. an Argentium silver balled head pin on the bottom

What is Argentium sterling silver? It’s a type of sterling silver, composed of 92.5 percent silver, but instead of sterling’s usual 7.5 percent pure copper, Argentium silver has a tiny bit of germanium smelted into that copper. It’s a small amount, but because of it, Argentium silver reacts to the torch very differently.

Whether you use traditional sterling silver or Argentium sterling silver, the process for making your own balled head pins is essentially the same. But there are some differences between the two metals that can affect the outcome, even when the steps similar. On his Make Wire Wrapped Jewelry! Precise and Chaotic Styles video download, Scott David Plumlee shows why he prefers to make balled head pins using Argentium.

Differences Between Argentium Silver and Sterling Silver

When making ball-end head pins from Argentium silver vs sterling silver, there are small but important differences to consider. Sterling silver wire takes a second or two longer to ball up in the flame, and the result isn’t quite as nice as the Argentium. Regular sterling silver forms fire scale, which can be a real headache to remove. It also forms a reticulated or wrinkled surface, and a more teardrop-like shape instead of melting into a smooth, shiny ball.

Meanwhile, the Argentium sterling’s germanium reacts with oxygen to create germanium-oxide on the metal, which is bright, shiny and quite attractive. You will get some fire scale on the Argentium wire, but it will go away after pickling and tumbling. The result is a balled head pin that is smoother and shinier. It even has a nice round, circular shape instead of the teardrop-like shape you would get from using sterling silver. Overall, it’s easier to work with and produces more attractive results.

Have you used Argentium silver? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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