What is Argentium Silver & How Does It Compare To Sterling?
If you've been shopping for silver and have come across the flying unicorn logo, you're probably familiar with Argentium Silver. This trademark is owned by the Argentium Silver Company in the United Kingdom and has been manufacturing a new generation of silver alloys. Developed specifically to reduce the amount of tarnishing when silver comes into contact with air, Argentium silver also comes with many other improvements compared to the traditional sterling.
This modern version contains more pure silver than its older counterpart, giving it a unique combination of metals that produce a natural brightness. It not only outshines gold, platinum, and sterling silver, but it is also tarnish-resistant, more durable, and stronger. It is these qualities that make Argentium a more appealing choice for anyone who loves their silver jewelry. Here, we discuss everything you need to know about Argentium silver, including its price, differences from sterling silver, where it comes from, its benefits, and more.
What’s the difference between Argentium silver and sterling silver?
While sterling silver is a popular alloy in jewelry making, it consists of a mixture between 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of other alloys, which is usually copper. Argentium, on the other hand, contains a larger amount of pure silver depending on its grade — 935 which contains 93.5% pure silver, or 960 which contains 96% pure silver — while the remaining amount is made up of other alloys, such as a small amount of germanium.
This unique combination gives Argentium silver plenty of advantageous features, such as improved durability, fire stain resistance, and a higher melting point. Furthermore, Argentium silver can be welded and fused a lot easier than sterling silver — because of this, metalsmiths often favor working with it. What makes it even better is that it's 7 times more tarnish-resistant than sterling silver.
Does Argentium Silver tarnish?
Even though Argentium silver is tarnish-resistant, it's best to make sure that any tool used on it doesn't have excess residue from other metals. This can cause cross-contamination which may lead to your piece getting tarnished. As much as possible, use a separate polishing buff for your Argentium silver and keep it away from all other jewelry. But if it does get tarnished, you can always clean your jewelry to restore its luster.
Where did Argentium Silver come from?
In 1990, Master Silversmith and metallurgist Peter Johns from Middlesex University created Argentium. When Metaleurop (a company that mines and refines metals) contacted Johns about two metals they had found — namely germanium and indium — it took 10 years of research to come up with new uses for them.
Johns chose to work with germanium, where he and his team of researchers at the Art and Design Research Institute (ADRI) in the School of Art and Design began to investigate its effects on silver alloys. It was through this research that the team discovered how the resulting silver displayed an increased thermal and electrical resistance, was more resistant to tarnish, has an increased ductility, and eliminated the need for fire stain removal.
Benefits of Argentium Silver
Argentium Silver comes with a number of benefits, all of which help it to stand out in the market:
- Brighter and shinier than sterling silver
- High tarnish resistance
- Fire stain elimination
- More ductile than sterling silver
- Precipitation hardening and simple heat-hardening properties
- Increased electrical and thermal resistance (making it much more suitable for welding and laser forming)
- Stronger than sterling silver
- Environmental advantages (not having to remove or plate over firescale makes it environmentally-friendly)
Argentium Silver specsPurity
While gold is rated by karats, determining the purity of silver is rated by parts-per thousand, like other precious metals. This means that for every one thousand parts that compose the metal, a certain ratio is made from pure silver. To be considered as sterling silver, a piece of jewelry will need to have at least 925 pure silver parts per 1000 total parts. This is why there are silver pieces marked 925 Sterling Silver, which essentially means that it is made from 92.5% pure silver.
Going by this formula, we know that the purer the piece of jewelry, the more desirable it is. Argentium silver, on the other hand, is rated at 935 parts per 1000, which means that it has at least 93.5% pure silver. This higher purity means that Argentium silver is even greater than traditional sterling silver, which was the former benchmark in silver jewelry.What is the hardness and how does that compare to sterling
Just like Sterling Silver, Argentium Silver can be work-hardened. This is done through simple, low-temperature heat treatment. This process can be done using a kiln or even a domestic oven for small quantities. Through it, the hardness of Argentium Silver can be improved significantly, giving it greater scratch resistance and excellent durability. It makes a perfect mount for a diamond alternative or black spinel gemstone.What’s the color
Argentium Silver has a similar color to sterling silver but it will appear as whiter and brighter.What are the metals it’s mixed with?
While traditional silver usually combines 92.5% pure silver with 7.5% of other metals (mostly copper), Argentium silver uses more pure silver and is available in two grades — .935 and .960. In addition, Argentium alloys replace some of the copper in the traditional formula and instead uses the metalloid germanium.Melting point?
Traditional sterling silver has an average melting point of 802°C (1475°F) and a liquidus flow point of 899°C (1650°F). Argentium 935, however, has a melting point of 803°C (1477°F) and a liquidus of 903°C (1657°F), while Argentium 960 has a melting point of 905°C (1661°F) and a liquidus of 925°C (1697°F).Periodic table symbol
Argentium Silver has been given the symbol Ag in the periodic table and has an atomic number of 47.
That's everything you need to know about Argentium Silver. So before spending your hard-earned money on sterling silver that might not last as long, remember all the great benefits that Argentium silver has to offer. From giving you a stronger and purer product to providing you with a tarnish-resistant shine, this improved version of silver is sure to check all the boxes in the hunt for your next silver jewelry piece.