Argentium silver - what IS it, anyway??

by Tawny Reynolds || April 14 2016
What is Argentium Silver?  Why recycled matters...
When I talk about Sundrop Jewelry to people, what jumps out is always the glass - the vibrant translucence, the repurposing of empty bottles, the “no way!” awesomeness of using a giant magnifying glass and sunshine to make jewelry.

What doesn’t strike people is the other material in a piece of jewelry, which frankly has a much larger environmental impact that anything to do with glass.  Silver.

Turquoise Bohemian Earrings, wrapped in recycled sterling silver wire, with recycled Argentium® sterling silver ear hooks.

Since the very beginning of Sundrop Jewelry, in 2005, I’ve wanted to make the transition from using standard sterling silver to using recycled sterling silver.

Making items from recycled sterling silver uses only 5% of the energy (and emissions) needed to produce items from virgin silver.  And that doesn’t even get into thedevastating environmental effects of mining silver ore in the first place.  Eight years ago, I published a post about the environmental impact of the silver used in Sundrop Jewelry.  Unfortunately, at that time buying recycled silver jewelry parts was not an option - although some silver did get recycled, it simply got mixed in with new material.  There was no way to tell which silver was recycled and which was not. 

Sterling silver supplies in 2007 - recycled content unknown.

A lot of progress has been made since then, due to public awareness of environmental damage and demand for sustainable alternatives.  By 2010, I was able to start using recycled sterling silver wire. And finally, last year the main sterling silver pieces used in Sundrop Jewelry (ear hooks and necklace chains) were also made in recycled Argentium sterling silver!

While recycled sterling silver is more expensive, I feel that a 95% reduction in the environmental impact of every piece of jewelry I make is totally worth it.

Argentium® and other recycled sterling silver supplies in 2016 - certified 100% recycled.

What IS Argentium silver anyway? ...and how to care for it.

What is Argentium silver?  It's 100% recycled silver.  It takes only 5% of the energy to make as virgin silver, and reduces the demand for metals mining (one of the most polluting industries in the world).Most of the recycled sterling silver I use goes by the name of “Argentium® silver”. Argentium silver is purer than traditional sterling silver, with a touch of germanium. It has a brighter, whiter color, and tarnishes less easily than traditional sterling silver.

Unfortunately, it will still tarnish eventually, especially if exposed to sulfur, acids, or high heat and moisture. So, treat it the same way you treat your other silver jewelry - store it in a dry air-tight environment, and don’t wear your jewelry when showering or swimming.  (If you missed it last month, grab my 4 tips to keep your jewelry shining like new!)

If you have some silver that's already tarnished - check out my step-by-step instructions for an easy, non-toxic, DIY method to get your silver sparkling like new again.