Argentium Silver® and why JulieAnn Jewelry Uses It
Argentium Silver® began its journey around 1990, when Peter Johns, working out of the Art and Design Research Institute (ADRI), School of Art & Design, Middlesex University¹, began researching the affects of germanium when added to traditional sterling silver as we know it to be. He found that many of the issues that made sterling silver problematic, were lessened or even prevented entirely, by adding germanium into the traditional sterling silver alloy that has been around since the beginning. He found that many of the tarnish properties of sterling silver were diminished to the point of almost none by simply adding a small amount of germanium in place of the copper content of the sterling silver alloy. He continued to test the properties with different amounts of germanium, until he found the exact amount of germanium that was needed, thus creating a perfect blend which is now called 930 Argentium® sterling silver. This new silver had the look and feel of a white gold, while keeping the cost of the product affordable, and today, the metal is still in a price category where anyone can afford to buy it. The price of this brand new alloy , along with its superior quality, and bright silvery finish, has created a huge demand in the marketplace, and it is still one of the most purchased metals for jewelry making, as of 2014, being the best in its class for almost 25 years.
Argentium silver® has gained momentum in the jewelry making market since its creation. It is now the most sought after white metal for low cost jewelry and jewelry making supplies. It is whiter and brighter than its 14kt white gold counterpart, and has no need for cleaning over long periods of time. Although most people believe that white gold is whiter and brighter than sterling silver and Argentium Silver® , it is absolutely not the case. 14kt white gold, by itself, is actually not white at all. 14kt white gold is actually made from 14kt yellow gold, and the metal nickel is added to create the whiteness you see when looking at white gold. However, over a very short period of time, the yellow tends to show through unless the white gold item has been plated. 14kt white gold products that are manufactured are most likely plated with rhodium, a bright silvery white substance from the platinum group of metals, which has very low tarnish properties, thus allowing white gold to stay white for longer periods of time. Without the white gold being plated with rhodium, such as handmade products found in art jewelry made by jewelry artists like JulieAnn Jewelry, 14kt white gold will actually tarnish and yellow quite quickly. This is due to the fact that raw materials such as wire, rather than finished items like clasps, and chain, are the main components used in the designs made by the artists. The downside of plating white gold, is that it lasts, at best, a year, at which time you need to re-plate the item, costing the owner time and money every time the piece needs to be re-plated. If the owner chooses not to re-plate the item, they will begin having issues with yellowing and tarnishing of the white gold immediately. If you get an entire year from plated white gold, consider yourself lucky, as most plating finishes only lasts weeks. Plating can be removed and damanged by simple things such as contact with water, soaps, lotions, and body oils. Once this layer of rhodium plating has been rubbed off, which will occur during regular wear and simple polishing, it will begin to tarnish even faster than traditional sterling silver.
Not only does white gold tarnish quickly, it is also made with nickel. When you first purchase white gold, it usually has a plating of rhodium, and will not create an allergy to the skin, since the rhodium plated surface is the only part of the jewelry that makes contact with skin. Rhodium has a low chance of causing issues and allergies, unlike white gold. However, once the rhodium plated layer wears away, the nickel now touches the skin, creating an allergic reaction to most people who wear it. Nickel has caused numerous reactions to people’s skin, so much so, that the European Union has issued rules regarding the amount of nickel being allowed in any product that has contact with the wearer’s skin, in order to protect consumers from unnecessary harm. Most items that are manufactured in the USA conform to this new law, known as EU regulation EN1811-2011, with the exception of 14kt white gold. Until United States laws catch up, and so that the EU customers can legally purchase and import, as well as wear and use JulieAnn Jewelry products, we have chosen to forego the 14kt white gold option and instead offer the highly brilliant, and forever white Argentium silver®, in place of 14kt white gold. Not only is it a better choice for consumers, it can also be offered at a substantially reduced rate compared to white gold.
All of the Argenitium silver products we use are manufactured in the USA and do not contain nickel. 14kt white gold contains a substantial amount of nickel, and does not conform to this law, so therefore JulieAnn Jewelry chooses to offer Argentium Silver, rather than white gold, so that our wonderful customers from European Union may also enjoy the designs we offer. This is another reason why Argentium Silver® is the best alternative when looking for items created from a beautiful white metal that will last as long as solid gold.
The extremely low price of Argentium Silver® compared to its most fierce competitor, 14kt white gold, allows for great demand of argentium silver in the marketplace. Argentium silver has a huge price advantage over white gold. Most jewelry artists, such as Julieann Jewelry prefer to use the exceptionally lower cost metal Argentium Silver®, over white gold products, due to the demand for lower cost jewelry designs in the worldwide marketplace. It also allows the competiive pricing you see on JulieAnn Jewelry compared to many other boutiques offering white gold. A 14kt white gold item of same weight, can cost in excess of 10 times the cost of an exact replica created from Argentium Silver®, and limits the people who have access to the items created. JulieAnn Jewelry has built her business on allowing everyone to enjoy the creations she makes, and using Argentium silver® is one of the ways she is successfully making this to happen. Being able to create affordable designs, that are available to the worldwide marketplace, including those areas where laws govern imports of specific items, is the sole reason, above all others, why JulieAnn Jewelry uses Argentium silver, rather than 14kt white gold, in as many designs as is possible. There is a place for 14kt white gold, and its used when needed, however, the Argentium Silver® will continue to be the metal of choice with most jewelry artists, including JulieAnn Jewelry for many years to come.