March 17, 2020 3 min read 6 Comments
Argentium is the newest sterling silver alloy to hit the market. I first fell in love with Argentium over 15 years ago, and would like to share with you why I think you'll fall in love with Argentium too.
My favorite thing about Argentium is that it is highly tarnish resistant. I won't go so far as to say it's tarnish free, as this isn't an ideal world, but I've had customers reporting that they've gone 2 -3 years before having to think about polishing their pieces. And this is no joke - when I was using traditional sterling silver I'd have to polish every piece after every show. But once I switched to Argentium I rarely had to re-polish any of my pieces which made me a very happy camper! Like you, I have way more important things to spend my time on than polishing my silver.
But why is Argentium so tarnish resistant? The secret is in it's construction. Traditional sterling silver is usually 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper (hence the .925 designation for sterling silver). Argentium is 93.5% silver, 5.5% copper and 1% germanium. When a sterling silver piece tarnishes, it's because the copper in the alloy is reacting to the air and turning colors. But the germanium creates a thin barrier between the copper and the air either dramatically slowing down the tarnishing process.
At this point you might be wondering, "If putting copper and silver together create the tarnishing problem, then why not just use pure silver and be done with it?" This is a good question, and the answer is durability. Pure silver is very, very soft and any jewelry made from it wouldn't last past a few wearings. Since my goal is to create jewelry you'll be happy wearing for decades, using pure silver is not an option for my designs.
When copper was added to silver it became much stronger. But that strength was magnified by the addition of that little bit of germanium. Argentium sterling silver defies expectations by being closer to pure silver in makeup, yet much more durable than even sterling silver. This makes it the perfect alloy to stand up to the daily wear and tear that a favorite piece of jewelry experiences.
Because a piece made from Argentium has a higher silver content than traditional sterling silver, the resulting jewelry has a much whiter, much brighter look that is almost more platinum in appearance. When tested using the CEILAB standard color measurement system, Argentium was rated as a "whiter" metal than rhodium, which is used to give white gold its white color. This means that when you wear jewelry made from Argentium, it looks much more like you are wearing platinum or white gold instead of sterling silver.
Allergies are a part of daily life for many people. Fortunately, as you can see in the graphic above, Argentium is 100% nickel-free which makes it the perfect alloy to wear without fear on a daily basis. Plus, germanium is also an inert metal, which makes Argentium even more hypo-allergenic than traditional sterling silver. This makes Argentium jewelry a thoughtful gift for anyone.
Lastly, Argentium is a sustainable alloy. It's made from 100% recycled silver and the creators of Argentium guarantee the tracability of all the silver it uses. Using recycled silver sounds like such a small thing - but it has very large impacts on the environment. Not only does recycling silver use just 5% of the energy it would take to refine silver from ore, it also eliminates the need for mining, mining waste and mining groundwater pollution.
These are all of the reasons why I love working with Argentium- it's low tarnish, is super durable, looks fabulous, and saves my customers from potential allergic reactions. All this with a green footprint as well!
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