It’s getting hot (and strangely muggy) in this part of Washington…. So, just as I do every time summer comes around, I’m having serious cravings for white or iced wine. One of my favorite white wines comes from a winery with a tasting room up in Leavenworth, so my goal for the summer is to- at some point- take a day off for a road trip to buy a bottle of wine and bring it back for a wonderful candlelit dinner and some quiet time with my sketchbook….
But, meanwhile, I’ve got thoughts of white wine preoccupying my brain and it’s oh so distracting!
Sorting through a recent bead order, I discovered two Swarovski crystals which were immediately claimed for this new design…
They made me fall into a daydream of beautiful summer afternoons with a nice white (maybe an iced) wine! Since I only had enough crystals in this color for a single pair of earrings I had to make them count, so I paired them with one of my personal favorite designs from the Tendrils (of the Vine) Collection. With the Argentium Silver wire leaf swirls, handmade silver head pins and bright crystal colors- I’m having a wine craving just looking at them! These are being saved for next week’s delivery to Ellensburg Canyon Winery/Cox Canyon Vineyards, but you can find the Siam version on Etsyhere.
Argentium is a modern, more pure, kind of Sterling Silver which modifies the traditional alloy. One of the most notable differences is that it replaces some of the copper with germanium. But, why does that matter?
Depending upon the desired result and use, Argentium can have several benefits over Sterling Silver. While there are many technical benefits for the jewelry artist, for the average consumer there are two obvious benefits:
It is highly tarnish resistant, which for consumers who hate polishing their jewelry and want it *always* shiny and pristine is a huge bonus.
Argentium silver is stronger and more durable than traditional sterling silver, making it more resistant to damage from scratches, denting and deformation – (this is particularly beneficial for jewelry items that will be worn regularly).
For the jewelry artist with some cross-over for the clients:
Reduction or elimination of firescale (Good for the environment/requires less of the artist’s time/saves client money! Note: this does depend upon how the silver was used; it won’t always save you time or money.)
No plating necessary- it’s silver through and through (You don’t have to worry about it losing that “like new” appearance due to the plating wearing thin and the artist doesn’t have to spend the time doing it!)
For the jewelry artist:
accelerated hardening and easy heat-hardening properties
suitable for welding and laser forming
safer working environment (no nasty or dangerous chemicals required!)
For the environmentally and socially conscious, it’s important to note that Argentium silver is guaranteed-responsible:
The traceability of its raw silver is guaranteed; only recycled silver is used (it’s certified).
No hazardous processes (chemicals)
Reduction in manufacturing time, labor and resources
Argentium alloys don’t contain nickel.
Aesthetically, it’s also whiter than traditional sterling, white gold and platinum! Over an extended period of time, it can develop a mild golden patina.
While the vast majority of my designs are always available in silver (by custom order), in preparation for the holidays I’m making some of my favorite original wire designs in silver ahead of time (both as samples of my work and also for sale). Some will be available on Etsy, others through the Moses Lake Museum & Art Center. The difficulty is in choosing which pieces to focus on!
I’ve chosen a few of my favorite items from the Tendrils of the Vine Collection, and I’m sure one of the silver naval/climber’s knot rings will show up…. but after that my brain freezes. I simply can’t decide.
(Taking suggestions and requests!)
What I have decided, though, is to explore the possibility of making select etched-silver designs available in-time for the holidays. After numerous requests for the option, it’s time to meet the demand. And for those pieces…. I already have grand plans in development!
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