Thursday, 4 February 2016

Handmade Argentium Silver Findings And A New Torch!

I've been meaning to buy a Sievert torch and propane bottle for absolutely ages after first using one at the jewellery night classes I went to a couple of years ago. It was really my love-hate relationship with my max flame torch that finally made me just get on with it and buy one.

Up to now I've managed with a mini butane, a max flame and a plumbers propane/butane torch and they've mostly been fine for soldering and enamelling a range of sizes of metal. Apart from the max flame butane torch. It's a larger version of the mini butane but badly designed with an awkward on off switch arrangement, a bad habit of spitting liquid butane out of it's bottom when you try to fill it, only igniting when it feels like it and a flame {once you manage to light it} that dies within minutes of "filling" the torch. And I have as yet not managed to fill it properly despite holding it and the butane canister at different angles, pumping the butane canister and then just swearing at it a lot. When it works it's a great torch and handy for when the mini butane can't cope but no good if it only works when it feels like it.

So I bought the Sievert Pro torch with a needle point burner and a larger burner for soldering larger items.

As you can see I haven't used it properly yet but I have played and it's great. I can use the smaller burner for enamelling and smaller soldering jobs and the larger burner for larger pieces and bangles.

New Handmade Argentium Silver Findings
At last, another thing I got round to doing! I've had some 20g {0.8mm} argentium silver wire hanging around for months waiting to be made into earwires and headpins and I finally got round to doing it yesterday.

So what's the difference between sterling silver and argentium silver?
  • They are very similar except argentium silver has a slightly higher % of pure silver and less copper than sterling silver and has the addition of the metalloid germanium. A metalloid is a chemical element that has a mix of metal and non metal properties.
  • A big advantage of using argentium silver in soldered pieces of jewellery is that it doesn't form firescale when heated as sterling silver does. 
  • Another important bonus has to be that it's also highly tarnish resistant and is brighter and "whiter" in colour than sterling silver.
  • It is also claimed to be hypo-allergenic so it may be suitable for people who have allergic reactions to earwires made with other metals.

I cut the argentium silver wire into lengths for earwires and headpins.

Then I started to ball the ends with the torch flame. Here's the first few I did.

argentium silver balled wire - cinnamon jewellery

The melted argentium silver wire forms lovely smooth balls that don't oxidize in the flame but remain bright. Part of the wire about 1cm down from the end discoloured slightly but this was removed quickly by pickling.

I balled up a piece of sterling wire to see the difference in the appearance of the balls. The sterling wire balls up and cools revealing a pitted, more rustic looking ball.

Earwires in progress. I decided to stick to just one earwire design for now.

argentium silver earwires - cinnamon jewellery

Super shiny! The finished earwires and headpins after a polish in the tumbler.

I'll be selling the earwires in packs of two pairs and the headpins which are 2.5 inches long in packs of 10. I just need to get them photographed properly then they will be listed in my Etsy shop.

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  1. Congrats on the new cool toy - your Sievert torch! the only time I have worked with a big torch was when I tried lampworking and it was quite scary. But you are a seasoned metalsmith so it must be fun for you to play with it. The headpins look really glossy, I have never realised the difference in balling between AG silver and SS before, its quite interesting to note.

    1. Yes the argentium does produce a lovely smooth ball. I shall be using my new torch properly today to make a bangle :D

  2. Beautiful work with the findings! They look perfect!

  3. That's a cool torch! I'd love to have one of those. How did you find working with argentium? I heard it gets fragile when it's hot.

    1. I've read that too. I didn't notice it when I balled up the wire as it's a quick in and out the flame process but I have read argentium can crack if you try to move it when it's red hot.


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