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Pure silver is wonderful, but too soft for jewelry.
Thankfully, we have alloys like sterling and argentium silver which are both better jewelry metals.
This post explains their differences and compares argentium silver vs sterling silver.
Sterling silver which is 92,5% pure silver, is fit for the job.
The remaining 7,5%, which is usually copper, hardens the metal for jewelry.
The drawback to using copper is that, it facilitates tarnish.
Argentium silver is a similar silver alloy, with a significant advantage.
Thanks to germanium in its composition, Argentium silver does not tarnish.
It shares similar properties with sterling silver and has some more.
Many buyers come across argentium while shopping, and mistake it for 925 silver or white gold.
- But what is Argentium silver?
- How does it compare to regular sterling silver?
- Is argentium silver better than white gold?
You’ll find your answers and more in this post!
1. What is sterling silver?
Pure silver is beautiful, and we love it.
However, it’s too soft for jewelry and silverware.
It is not durable: it can get scratched easily.
We want to use silver, but its softness is an obstacle.
How can we solve this problem?
The answer is sterling silver: a hard and durable silver version.
Is sterling silver good for jewelry?
Sterling silver(SS) is a silver alloy, which has 92, 5% pure silver and 7,5% other metal(s).
The latter part is generally copper.
Thanks to sterling silver, silver becomes more usable in jewelry, silverware and silver tableware.
A. Is sterling silver jewelry hypoallergenic?
This question practically comes down to asking “Is sterling silver nickel free?”.
In the overwhelming majority cases, the culprit of sterling allergies is nickel.
Thus if the metal in question does not contain nickel, we may say the metal is hypoallergenic.
The same goes for sterling silver: if it is nickel free, it is hypoallergenic.
B. Does sterling silver tarnish?
The presence of copper increases the hardness of silver, but it also makes sterling more prone to tarnish.
Copper increases the reaction tendency with oxygen, water and chemical agents.
The results of this is always the jewelry losing its shine and getting dull.
Thus regular sterling demands additional maintenance so it can carry that lustrous look.
For example, using a sterling silver bracelet, demands more caution to avoid contact with water and chemicals, like deodorants and perfumes than 316L steel, for example.
Do we have to use sterling silver for jewelry?
Is there another alloy, which is harder and more resistant to tarnish?
Meet argentium silver: a superior form of silver.
2. What is Argentium Silver?
Argentium silver is invented by Peter Johns of Middlesex University, London.
Master silversmith and metallurgist Johns obtained this silver alloy with high tarnish resistance thanks to years of research at the Art and Design Research Institute.
Argentium silver has a different composition than the traditional sterling silver while offering a similar look.
It includes germanium in the alloy making harder like copper but also less prone to tarnish.
Argentium is obtained by reducing the percentage of copper in the alloy and replacing it with germanium which amounts to less than 1% of the alloy.
Two commonly used forms are Argentium silver 935 and 960.
Argentium sterling silver 935 contains 93.5% silver, while Argentium silver 960 has a silver percentage of 96%.
Argentium has more pure silver in its composition than sterling silver.
This means that more silver is used, while maintaining the strength and integrity of the piece with argentiyum.
A. Does argentium silver tarnish?
Tarnish is a problem we get with our silver jewelry.
With argentium silver we are not completely free from tarnish, but it is less of a problem.
It will take much more time for it to tarnish compared to 925 silver.
With AS, the manufacturers do not need to remove or plate over the firescale which makes it more durable with less work.
Also the elimination of firescale considerably reduces production time.
B. Is Argentium silver nickel free?
Yes, it is nickel free. No version of argentium contains nickel.
Thus Argentium silver is hypoallergenic.
Is argentium good for jewelry?
- Argentium Silver is richer in pure silver than sterling.
- It is also more resistant to tarnish.
- As Argentium Silver is nickel free, it is hypoallergenic.
As a result, Argentium silver has superior qualities than sterling, which makes it a very good choice for jewelry.
3. Argentium Silver vs Sterling Silver
|Argentium Silver||Sterling Silver|
|Silver percentage||At least 93.5%||92.5%|
|Hypoallergenic||Yes||Yes, if nickel free|
Sterling and argentium silver are very alike in many aspects.
First, they are both silver alloys, which are made to obtain a harder material for daily use.
Secondly, they share silver’s lustrous shine.
Thirdly, both are sought-after jewelry material.
Now, let’s look at the important differences between argentium and sterling.
Regular sterling silver is nearly always 92,5% pure silver, while argentium silver jewelry varies in silver purity.
Argentium silver offers a higher resistance to tarnish, which means less care work.
No one wants allergic reactions because the jewelry they wear.
With argentium, you can always be sure that your piece does not include nickel.
Whilst if you are considering sterling jewelry, you should ask your jeweler if its nickel free.
4. Argentium Silver vs White gold
What is white gold?
First, white gold is not argentium silver: there are different materials, which share similar looks.
White gold is a gold alloy with other metals such as palladium, silver, etc.
As the metal type and percentages vary, the color of white gold is not uniform across all white gold jewelry.
To reach a “silvery” white color, the alloy is many times coated with rhodium.
Besides assuring the desired color, this plating also protects the inner gold alloy.
However, nonetheless, eventually time will show its effects, and the rhodium plating will wear out.
When this happens to your jewelry, you can consult with you local jeweler for a re-plating job which will restore your jewelry to its first-day brightness.
5. Argentium vs sterling: Which one should you choose?
Argentium silver is an improvement over traditional sterling silver.
It offers much stronger tarnish resistance.
Moreover, the hardness of Argentium silver is roughly the same as regular sterling.
Thus, you are not sacrificing anything when selecting agentium over 925 silver.
Keep in mind that, apart from having less tarnish, you may not notice much of a difference between argentium and sterling silver.
So, if you do not mind a little more maintenance, then the sterling silver may be better if you can get it at a considerably lower price.
Otherwise, argentium silver is the right choice.