Argentium Sterling Silver is a modern sterling silver alloy which modifies the traditional alloy (92.5% silver + 7.5% copper) by replacing some of the copper with the metalloid germanium. As it retains the 92.5% silver content of the traditional alloy, it is still referred to as sterling silver.
Argentium silver is the result of research by Peter Johns at the 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)
* 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 melting point of Argentium sterling silver is 1410°F (766°C) and a liquidus flow point of 1610°F (877°C).
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