I love working with Argentium silver wire. I now use Argentium 22 to 28 gauge wire exclusively for my silver jewelry.
What’s special about Argentium? For me, the key feature is its resistance to tarnish. I live in a very humid location, in the middle of the city (think air pollution). The pieces of jewelry I made early on using regular sterling silver tarnished astonishingly fast. Household objects clad in sterling silver don’t stand a chance.
Like regular sterling silver, Argentium is an alloy made mainly of pure silver. Pure silver is too soft for most jewelry techniques, so another metal is added to make it stronger. Copper is the metal used most often in regular sterling silver; unfortunately, copper – as well all know – tarnishes pretty quickly.
In Argentium silver, the metal added is Germanium, which resists tarnish arising from three substances: sulphurous gases, perspiration, and ultraviolet light. The patented Argentium alloy never contains nickel.
Argentium is slightly more valuable than regular sterling silver. The alloy contains minimum 93.5% raw silver; this is comparable to regular sterling, which must contain at least 92.5%.
Supplies sellers charge more for Argentium, but I price my finished pieces comparably to regular sterling silver. Paying a bit more is worth it to me. I like knowing that a wire-wrapped necklace will stay bright while I keep it in inventory, and that the buyer won’t need to polish it for quite a while.
Another advantage to Argentium is that its raw silver content is 100% recycled.
I am happy with my sources for Argentium wire, but jewelry components such as accent beads, jump rings, and earrings are few and far between, and come with a hefty markup. I keep looking, and hoping, for more ways to integrate Argentium into my work.