Argentium and my Tumbler

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Wee Hippies wrote
on 3 Sep 2011 8:23 PM

I recently purchased some Argentium to make hoops. I worked with the wire to create my pieces and then put them in the oven at 500F for an hour. I read somewhere that I could then pickle them or tumble them to remove the color that developed from the heating process. 

I chose to put them in my new tumbler, but found that this softened the metal again, and didn't really shine up the silver. Being that I just bought the tumbler, I only had 1LB of steel shot in with it. I'm wondering if that was the problem. 

I've never worked with pickle, but have a polishing cloth...

Any pointers would be fabulous. I'm a newbie to this scene who just wants to make her own findings!

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rkymtndrmr wrote
on 3 Sep 2011 11:12 PM

when you make your hoops you work harden the metal .when you heat the metal you anneal it or soften it in time your tumbler will work harden it again what is your thoughts on putting it in the oven. you should pickle to take off the color then tumble. pickle is sodium bisulfate the same as ph decreaser for hot tubs and pools hope this helps 

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rkymtndrmr wrote
on 3 Sep 2011 11:18 PM

never use steel tweezers in pickle it will electroplate your silver use copper tongs

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BogIron wrote
on 8 Sep 2011 2:28 PM

Just about any acid will serve as a pickle. I have made jewelry for a good long while now and have chosen to go with plain white vinegar heated in an old crock pot I bought at a yard sale for one dollar, works great and is inexpensive. A gallon of vinegar is around $2 at Walmart. It is true that you need to use plastic or copper tongs to place or remove items from the pickle solution whatever acid you choose to use.

In the tumbler most folk put a single drop of "Dawn" dish washing soap, about twenty years ago I bought at Walmart a box of laundry detergent that was bleach free, scent free and low sudsing. I have about a pound of shot in my tumbler and usually run it for 45 minuets to get a nice shine on Sterling silver. I'm just not sure how much time should be allocated for Agrentium silver though.

I think that the 500F soak is indeed meant to harden the Argentium silver up and not to anneal it. Check with the manufacturer on this along with the tumbling times to be sure you are timing things correctly.  I would also suggest that you purchase an inexpensive over thermometer to check and see if your oven's settings are correct. I know that our electric oven is off on the plus side by 50F degrees and that is quite a bit when your making cookies so I don't know how that would affect Argentium silver.

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rkymtndrmr wrote
on 10 Sep 2011 3:29 PM

the commercal pickle is sodium bisulfate the same thing as ph decreaser for hot tubs and sani flush at a fraction of the cost

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Tom and Kay wrote
on 26 Sep 2011 7:48 AM

Hi, Great question.  We do not work with Argentium but  do have an Argentium expert to check with.  We think our readers would find your query about Argentium of interest and would like to include it in our column.  Please email us your name, city and state via email:  kbenham@cfl.rr.com

Hopefully we'll be able to post a response in a few days.  Thanks for your interest.  Best regards, Tom & Kay

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Tom and Kay wrote
on 7 Nov 2011 12:46 PM

We contacted Ronda Coryell who is a noted authority, renowned teacher and leading proponent for working with Argentium Sterling Silver.  She responded with the following advice:

 

The hoops should be baked in an oven at 500º for 1 1/2 hours or for ultimate hardness in a kiln at 580º for 1 hour.  I find kiln hardened Argentium Sterling Silver is a lot harder than oven hardened Argentium – a definite difference.  I allow my Argentium to cool slowly at room temperature rather than quenching.  Once cooled, I dip in hot vinegar or hot lemon juice to remove the coloration that forms during hardening.  That is all I am using for pickle.  The addition of 1 teaspoon of salt to two cups vinegar or lemon juice works a bit quicker.  The tumbler could not possibly "soften" the metal again.  It could perhaps bend or mangle the hoops if the tumbler has heavy shot and the hoops are fine.  I prefer using a magnetic tumbler with fine stainless pins.

 

 

Editors’ Note:  After working at Revere Academy in San Francisco for 11 years Ronda recently relocated to Austin, Texas where she has founded Jewelry Studies International, a jewelry school offering jewelry classes featuring Argentium Sterling Silver dedicated to providing professional instruction in jewelry design and fabrication to local and international students.  JSI instructors are professional jewelers, goldsmiths and gemologists who have a passion for sharing their knowledge and experience.  The school’s location is 321 West Ben White Blvd, #204, Austin, Texas 78704, 800.656.7649 or 512.861.5785.  Check out the JSI website, http://www.jewelrystudiesinternational.com/, to view the class and workshop schedules.  If you want to learn how to work with Argentium Sterling Silver this is THE PLACE to be.

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iamtraceyiam wrote
on 2 Dec 2012 10:00 AM

I recently completed the program at Jewelry Studies International and couldn't agree more. Ronda and Vasken are wonderful teachers and over the last 6 months of taking their classes, have become friends. I had never worked with Argentium Silver before attending the school and can honestly say I'll never go back to Sterling Silver again.

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