Silver jewelry

What is the Difference Between Argentium Silver and Sterling Silver?

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Argentium silver is an alloy with at least 93.5% purity. It has high tarnish resistance thanks to Germanium in its composition. Sterling silver is a very popular alloy with 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals. 925 silver does tarnish.

Why do we use alloys in jewelry instead of 100% pure silver?

Pure silver is wonderful, but too soft for jewelry.

Thankfully, we have alloys like sterling and argentium which deliver better durability and are both better choices for jewelry.

This post explains their differences and compares them.

This alloy of silver, which is 92.5% pure, is fit for jewelry.

The remaining 7.5%, which is usually copper, elevates hardness level making.

The drawback of using copper is that, it facilitates the appearance of black tarnish spots.

The newer Argentium is a similar alloy, with a significant advantage.

Because of germanium in its composition, it does not tarnish.

It shares similar properties with 925 sterling 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 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.

Its softness is an obstacle for wide use.

How can we solve this problem?

The answer is sterling silver: a hard and durable version of the whitish shiny precious metal.

Is sterling silver good for jewelry?

This alloy has 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metal(s) in its composition.

The latter part is generally copper.

It is also known as “925 silver” or simply “sterling”.

Thanks to this durable alloy, it becomes more usable as jewelry, silverware and 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 allergies is nickel.

Thus, if the metal in question does not contain nickel, we may say the metal is hypoallergenic.

The same goes for SS: if it is nickel free, it is hypoallergenic.

B. Does sterling silver tarnish?

The presence of copper increases the hardness, 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 regularly it demands additional maintenance so it can carry that lustrous look.

For example, using a sterling bracelet, demands more caution to avoid contact with water and chemicals, like deodorants and perfumes than 316L stainless steel, for example.

Do we have to use 925 silver for jewelry?

Is there another alloy, which is harder and more resistant to tarnish?

Meet argentium silver.

2. What is Argentium Silver?

This alloy is invented by Peter Johns of Middlesex University, London.

argentium silver vs sterling silver pros cons

Master silversmith and metallurgist Johns obtained this alloy with high tarnish resistance thanks to years of research at the Art and Design Research Institute.

This young alloy has a different composition than the traditional sterling while offering a similar look.

It 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 amounts to less than 1% of the alloy.

Two commonly used forms are AS 935 and 960.

The percentage of silver in AS 935 and 960 are 93.5% and 96 purity, respectively.

These alloys are more pure than sterling.

This means that more precious metal is used, while maintaining the strength and integrity of the piece with this alloy.

A. Does argentium silver tarnish?

With this type of 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 fire scale which makes it more durable with less work.

Also the elimination of fire scale considerably reduces production time.

B. Is Argentium silver nickel free?

Yes, it is nickel free. No version contains nickel.

Thus, it is hypoallergenic.

Is argentium good for jewelry?

  • AS is richer in silver.
  • It is also more resistant to tarnish.
  • As Argentium is nickel free, it is hypoallergenic.

As a result, Argentium silver has superior qualities, which are significant benefits making it a very good choice for jewelry.

3. Argentium vs Sterling

Argentium Sterling
Purity At least 93.5% 92.5%
Tarnish resistance High Low
Hypoallergenic Yes Yes, if nickel free

These metals are very alike in many aspects.

First, they are both 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 them.

Regular SS is always 92.5% pure, while argentium jewelry varies in purity.

The latter 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?

Gold and silver are both precious metals used in jewelry.

They are both too soft in their pure forms, thus we use alloys.

First thing to note is: white gold is not argentium silver.

They 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 pieces.

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 is an improvement over traditional sterling silver.

It offers much stronger tarnish resistance.

Moreover, the hardness of AS is roughly the same as regular sterling.

Thus, you are not sacrificing anything when selecting this silver alloy.

Keep in mind that, apart from having less tarnish, you may not notice much of a difference between argentium and sterling.

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 is the right choice.