Hate to clean it?
Then this new tarnish-resistant silver is for you!
Argentium™ Sterling Silver, pronounced Ar-GEN-tee-um and sometimes simply called Argentium or Argentium silver, is a new alloy developed by Peter Johns, a professor of silversmithing at Middlesex University in England. This revolutionary new sterling silver is slowly coming to the marketplace.
For the jewelry wearer, Argentium silver is a wonderful material to own. It tarnishes more slowly than regular sterling silver, and if it's stored properly, will not tarnish at all so there's no need to spend time cleaning your jewelry before wearing it!
For the jewelry maker, Argentium silver is a wonderful material to work with. Firescale doesn't form when the metal is heated so no harsh chemicals are needed to prevent or remove the stain, and Argentium's bright finish and smooth texture inspire new designs.
By U.S. law, a silver alloy must contain at least 92.5% pure silver for the material to be labeled Sterling Silver. There is at least that much pure silver in Argentium™ so it correctly considered Sterling Silver.
Pure silver is too soft to use for jewelry so other metals are added, creating an alloy. In silver alloys the main strengthener is copper, which reacts easily with oxygen, moisture and sulfides to create tarnish. There is also copper in Argentium silver, but it's a smaller percentage than the amount used in traditional sterling silver. The additional metal added to make Argentium is germanium. Unlike copper, germanium loves oxygen so much it migrates to the surface to chemically bond with oxygen. Rather than create tarnish, the bond forms a protective barrier so that sulfides do not have contact with the copper in the alloy, and the chemical reaction that results in tarnish cannot begin.
There may be some copper molecules exposed to the air, which is why Argentium is correctly described as “highly tarnish-resistant silver” rather than non-tarnishing silver. If you're in an unusually humid or polluted environment, any silver will react to the moisture and sulfides in the air and start to tarnish. But, even in such an environment, Argentium will tarnish more slowly than traditional sterling silver. Regardless of environment, if jewelry made from Argentium silver is properly stored in anti-tarnish tissue and bags, then it may never tarnish at all.
As this new silver becomes more widely known and appreciated, “Argentium-like” or “similar to Argentium” jewelry may become available elsewhere. A silver alloy is either the exact mix of metals that creates tarnish-resistant (and patented) Argentium silver or it is not. At ColorSpark Studio we purchase our stock from reputable suppliers so we and our customers are sure to always receive the real thing ~ genuine highly tarnish-resistant Argentium™ Sterling Silver!