Enameling on Argentium 970

This seems like a wonderful opportunity to use Argentium instead of fine silver for applications such as plique a jour. I am anxoius to experiment with the Argentium in this medium. I have enameled on the 925 and it justgot cloudy,  and did not see the advantage of Argentium verses Fine Silver, for cloiosnne, but for the application of plique a jour it is a stronger surface.

I hesitate to use fine silver in larger pieces and have use 18k gold in it place because of the durability. But with the cost of gold these days Argentium could come in very handy. Sterling sliver is not one of my favorites due to the fire scale developing during the enameling process. There are acids one can use to remove this but then there is always the problem of discoloring your enamels.

Argentiun; from the website of G&S Metals. And BTW is the only place I have found selling Argentium 970 .

What is the Difference Between Sterling Silver and Argentium in Settings?

The most important difference is that Argentium can be hardened, which should increase the durability of the setting. One hardening procedure is to use soft sheet and then heat it in an oven for 4 hrs. at 400º F of 1 hr. at 580° F. Argentium is harder than standard sterling when it is work hardened as well.

ARGENTIUM

The silver of the 21st century – stays bright and beautiful and is ready to go when you are.
Argentium silver, the way silver was meant to be; forever bright and beautiful
What is Argentium silver and where did it come from?
Peter Johns, a professor of silversmithing at Middlesex University in England invented it in 1996 and  labeled it AS.
Argentium is .925 or 97% silver and qualifies to carry that trademark.
GERMANIUM

Germanium is the element that makes it tarnish resistant and firescale free.
Germanium is not found as a free element in nature. But is mined from zinc ores, coal and germanite.  It is a metalloid, as are silicon, manganese, boron and sulfur.  It borders between metallic elements and non-metallic elements and is found on the periodic table as GE.  It replaces 1.2% of the copper and seems to have a bleaching characteristic when alloyed.
Germanium is used as:
As a transistor element – as a phosphor in fluorescent lamps, infrared spectroscopes – lenses and flutes.
Fire Scale is prevented when Germanium constantly diffuses to the surface where it combines with oxygen and forms a thin layer of germanium oxide – GeO2 that is impervious to oxygen.
Technical Data Sheet
Melt Temperature is 60° F lower than standard sterling silver.  If it looks light yellow or orange, it’s too hot!
Harder and More Durable – Argentium Silver can be made nearly twice has hard as annealed standard sterling silver by simple heat treatment – even in a domestic oven at 450° F for 2 hours.  Typical hardness of rapidly quenched pieces is 70 DPH.  Flasks cooled to room temperature can approach 110 DPH and heat treated castings can approach 125 DPH! (Approximately twice the hardness of standard Sterling silver!)   To obtain this hardness, place the castings in the over at 580 F for 45 minutes.

Laser Weldable – Unlike ordinary sterling silver, Argentium Sterling Silver can be laser welded, opening up new avenues in application and design.
Casting:  It is very important not to over heat.  Use a separate crucible to avoid contamination from other metals.  PLEASE DON’T MIX SILVERS.  We use a very “happy” pink sticker which says, “ARGENTIUM – DO NOT MIX”.  Do not use silicon carbide.
There is a learning curve to casting Argentium:  a lower temp. to adjust to.

Sterling Silver: Melt Temp  – 1475°F   Flow  – 1650°F

Argentium Silver .925:  Melt Temp – 1410°F   Flow 1610°F
Argentium Silver 97%:  Melt Temp – 1724°F   Flow 1724°F

When investment casting, a pour temperature of 1780-1880°F (971-1027°C) and a flask temperature below 1250 F (677 C) is recommended.  If casting without a protective atmosphere, the use of boric acid flux or graphite powder is effective.  After casting the metal, a minimum of 15 minutes air cooling is required before quenching, says Peter.  However, many of our customers recommend letting it cool until you can pick it up and then quenching it for best results.
Polishing: To avoid contamination from other alloyw in the workshop, a separate wheel should be used for Argentium sterling only.  If this is not possible, thoroughly rake wheels before using.
Soldering – Argentium Sterling displays a lighter color when heated.  If the metal looks yellow or light orange, it is too hot.  It is important to avoid overheating this metal.  Use Argentium silver solders for best compatibility.
Price – Yes it’s more expensive 15% – 18% higher than standard sterling silver.  But all those who are already using it, tell us it’s well worth the extra money.  The cost savings is in the finishing.
Fabrication:  Easier to work with.
Enameling: NOT KNOWN
Antiquing: Use hydrochloric or muratic acid.
Remelting scrap may result in brittle castings.  There is no need to keep your silver scrap separate for refining.
AS Logo – if you are interested in the AS stamp, visit the Argentium web site to read about licensing.
Cost:  Averages approximately 15% to 18% more than Standard Silver.
But will reduce your costs due to:
No cyanide needed for stripping
Cost of managing the toxic waste of the cyanide processes
Healthier working environment.
Less deep polishing
No need for plating or lacquering to prevent tarnish
Less labor costs associated with reduced finishing and
polishing times.
Thus increased profitability for silver products.
The ability to harden Argentium Sterling makes certain designs possible that may have been with regular silver.

Two types of Argentium, 925 and 970

With the help of the enamlforum group where some have tested enameling on the argentium and are willing to share their  finding.

“I have done enameling on Argentium 970 with good success. The  standard Argentium 930 has too low of a melting point and problems with slumping. There are some photos of my test enamels on cast  Argentium 970 in this forum. I’ve also fabricated enamel cups from 970 sheet and it works well, however, it’s only available in casting  shot so I roll my own sheet. Rio carried sheet for a short while, but doesn’t any more. I sand off the germanium oxide just before enameling and fire it like fine silver. By the way, Argentium has it’s own quirks. I’d suggest Googleing it and reading up on how to use it, it’s different than standard sterling.” Jim at the   enamelforum@yahoogroups.com

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