Argentium Silver vs Sterling Silver, Plus Make Perfect Balled Head Pins
Are you familiar with Argentium sterling silver? It’s still sterling silver, composed of 92.5% silver, but instead of sterling’s 7.5% 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 sterling silver or Argentium sterling silver, the process for making your own balled headpins is essentially the same, but on his Make Wire Wrapped Jewelry! Precise and Chaotic Styles DVD, Scott David Plumlee shows why he prefers to make balled head pins using Argentium.
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 firescale, which can be a real headache to remove, but it also forms a reticulated or wrinkled surface and usually a more teardrop-like shape instead of melting into a smooth, shiny ball. The Argentium sterling’s germanium reacting with oxygen creates 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.
Have you used Argentium silver? Share your experiences in the comments below!