You probably have heard about sterling silver, very commonly used for the making of jewelry and silver flatware.
But what is Argentium silver? How does it compare to sterling silver?
This is the answer to your questions on these two alloys of silver.
The raison d’etre of sterling silver is the need for a harder and more durable form of silver for making jewelry and other items.
Pure silver is improper because it is too soft thus prone to physical damages. It has many advantages, but it is too soft to make rings and jewelry pieces, which is why it is mixed with other metals, most commonly copper.And this is where we arrive at sterling silver.
Sterling silver is an alloy of dominantly silver and other metals increasing its hardness and durability.
Traditional sterling silver has 92.5% silver and 7.5% of other metals, which is usually copper.
The presence of copper adds to the hardness of silver, which allows it to be fashioned into jewelry, but there are disadvantages such as the additional maintenance needed so the jewelry will not tarnish.
Unfortunately, the presence of copper to the alloy makes it more susceptible to tarnish.
Thus using a sterling silver bracelet, for example, demands more caution to avoid contact with water and chemical agents like deodorants and perfumes.
And this led the way to the discovery of argentium silver: a better form of sterling silver.
Argentium silver: a modern version of sterling silver
Argentium silver was created at of Middlesex University’s Art and Design Research Institute, School of Art & Design. The aim of the project was to obtain a better alloy of silver, which has been achieved in many ways including increasing resistance to tarnish.
One other important advantage of argentium silver over traditional sterling silver is that the manufacturers do not need to remove or plate over the firescale which makes it more durable with less work. And also the elimination of firescale considerably reduces production time.
Argentium sterling silver has a different composition than the traditional sterling silver while offering a similar look.
Argentium silver includes germanium in the alloy making harder like copper but also less prone to tarnish. It is obtained by reducing the percentage of copper in the alloy and replacing it with germanium which less than 1% of the alloy.
Two commonly used forms of Argentium silver are Argentium silver 935 and 960. Argentium sterling silver 935 contains 93.5% silver, while Argentium silver 960 has a silver percentage of 96%.
This means that more silver can be used while maintaining the strength and integrity of the jewelry that is made from this alloy.
Should You Choose Argentium Silver?
The probable answer is yes if it fits within your budget.
Argentium silver is an improvement over traditional sterling silver that is most noticeable in terms of less tarnish.
Moreover, the hardness of Argentium silver is roughly the same as the conventional version, so you are not sacrificing anything when selecting Argentium over the traditional sterling silver versions.
Keep in mind that apart from having less tarnish, you may not notice much of a difference between Argentium and traditional sterling silver.
So, if you do not mind a little more maintenance, then the traditional version may be better if you can get it at a considerably lower price. Otherwise, Argentium silver is the right choice.