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ARGENTIUM SILVER - All you need to know.


    From Silver News...



    Elizabeth Hunt is Operations Director at Allied Gold, Ltd. in London, owner of the patents and trademarks for Argentium Silver, and has worked in the jewelry and giftware trade for over 30 years. Her career has encompassed international product development manager for jewelry and ceramics company Josiah Wedgwood, ten years of running her own outsourcing business to the jewelry and ceramics industry, and head of design and sourcing for Gems TV based in Bangkok.

    In 2014, she was named one of the “Hot 100 business big shots” in U.K.’s Professional Jeweler magazine.

    Following is an edited interview with Ms. Hunt.

    Silver News: What is Argentium Silver? Please explain about the four alloys that are available.

    Elizabeth Hunt: Argentium Silver is a patented and trademarked range of premium silver alloys containing germanium. There are two alloys which are .935 purity and two which are .960 purity; each having an alloy designed speci cally for casting and for mill-formed products, i.e., sheet, wire, tube, etc.

    The alloys are tarnish resistant and this is only one of the attributes of this metal.

    Argentium, like all high grade silvers, is antibacterial, however
    the addition of the germanium in the alloy appears to increase its hypoallergenic properties by forming a barrier over the copper phase in Argentium. We have seen some consumers that have dif culty wearing sterling silver without a reaction but who are able to wear jewelry created in Argentium.

    The Argentium alloys are the whitest of all the white precious metal alloys as measured by the CIELAB system [A color space de ned by the Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage]. They do not require plating, reducing both manufacturing processes and costs and the effect of plating chemicals on the environment. Argentium is restain free and can be heat hardened post production to create a more durable nish.

    SN: Allied Gold bought the patents and trademark for Argentium in 2014. What attracted you to the product? Have you committed to any R&D efforts to further develop the material?

    Ms. Hunt: When Allied Gold bought the patents and trademarks in 2014, we knew that the true scope and potential of this alloy had not been fully realized or promoted broadly. For our own business in London it was not just the anti-tarnish properties which were of interest, but also that the alloys have great fusing properties.

    The fusing properties of Argentium enable faster production and innovative designs. Seams and joints become invisible when fusing Argentium and reduce solder clean-up time. Argentium can also be fused to all carats and colors of gold and palladium. We have been manufacturing commercial production lines of two color wedding rings (our core business) for around 18 months and the business
    has grown. Furthermore, we have invested a great deal in R&D to ensure the alloys are robust and can be produced easily by our global partners.

    SN: How is it produced – where and by whom?”

    Ms. Hunt: Argentium is manufactured in much the same way
    as any other silver alloy, whether in master alloy or in grain for casting or mill production. The production parameters need to be controlled more rigidly than sterling, but with modern equipment and production processes this is easily achieved.

    Currently we are working with a range of partners globally: The Elizabeth Hunt Pallion Group in Australia, Hereaus in Hong Kong, GSM in the USA and Legor in Italy with others to come.

    SN: What do you believe are its main applications? Discuss responsible silver aspects.

    Ms. Hunt: Argentium is highly tarnish resistant, not tarnish proof, but when tarnish does occur, which will be over an extended period, it can be easily removed making Argentium great for both retailers and consumers. We have had independent testing run by CATRA here in the UK for a range of Argentium cutlery and it passed a full range of dishwasher testing. No other product has achieved such results.

    We are currently working with the Birmingham Assay of ce laboratory and will be running more independent testing to further endorse the unique selling points of this metal.

    One of the other mechanical properties that many of our customers in the watch, pen and jewelry industries have bene tted from is the fact that Argentium can be heat hardened post production. This allows clients to produce items which simply would not be possible in standard silver. Items that are fully soft after soldering can easily be hardened by a simple low-heat treatment and without the use of high- tech equipment. Items such as sprung bangles and watch cases along with pen tubes and clips are now durable, retain their spring and have a lasting superior color and durability.

    Silver flutes have also been produced and the fusing of the keys rather that the traditional use of lead solder has reduced the maintenance costs. In addition, an improved sound projection has been achieved from using the unique low heat hardening process with Argentium silver

    The corporate Argentium silver site and the Argentium Guild site allow users to register to use the Unicorn trademark to endorse their work, discuss production techniques with other users via a discussion forum and keep up to date on news and events around the globe. Additionally, there are downloadable technical and marketing sheets.

    Argentium is manufactured from ethically-sourced silver and alleviates the use of harsh chemicals for cleaning as it is restain free and does not need to be plated to retain its color and luster.

    SN: What are your plans to market and sell it in the coming months and years?

    Ms. Hunt: Argentium International is working on expansion plans for 2017 and beyond that will see business grow considerably in all continents. Our new business partners will be actively supported
    by global web-based marketing campaigns which recognizes our growing network of like minded, high-quality producers able to drive sales of our alloys. We believe the coming months and years are going to be very exciting.