Sterling Silver: Its Properties, Uses, and How to Work It

Starters sometimes confuse sterling silver with fine silver, which is actually composed of 99.9% pure silver. A sterling silver, on the other hand, is actually composed of 92.5% mass silver and 7.5% mass from other metals; this includes copper as its alloy. Sterling silver has many uses – from the usual piece of jewelry to the various cutleries, utensils, artifacts, instruments, tools, and many more. It’s more ideal that fine silver for making functional objects since it is usually alloyed with copper, which provides more strength while preserving its ductility.

As it is known and famous for producing fancy jewelry, there are several basic techniques for making one. It can be done through casting the piece itself or through soldering or by forging it through hammering.

Sterling Silver: Its Properties, Uses, and How to Work It

There are various tools for you to work with while you are using sterling silver for your handicraft. This includes wire cutting pliers, round nose pliers, flat-billed pliers, fine files, pair of metal shears, torch for soldering, and pickle tank. Aside from tools, you may also need a few supplies for the handicraft work, which may all be useful to get the job done more quickly. This includes flux, pickle, silver solder (easy, medium, and hard), silver wire in various gauges, silver sheet, fine silver bezel wire, and a few cabochon-cut gems.

A few notes though, it is not advised to use common pliers since it has serrated jaws that grip and produce marks on the silver. While using a torch, you may need to find a finer tip for a more precise and accurate flame. Common torches are known to create too broad flame with the silver. For forging, hammers and anvil may do the trick while you are shaping the silver the way you want it.

No matter what silver you use for your jewelry, it is imperative to be careful and delicate when working since it may tarnish after a period of time.

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