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The Aussie Metal Clay/Argentium Story

In 2016, Innovator, Kim Booklass had spoken to me about wanting an Argentium Silver Clay for its unique properties.​ These include, no firescale when soldering, fusing abilities, non allergenic, incredible high shine, resistance to tarnish and Argentiums durability.  Upon talking to others in the field of metal clay, I was asked about the possibility of an Argentium Silver.  Little did everyone know, I had already started researching what I needed to make it happen.

I asked Kim to complete an array of tests, with many test strips, over a range of temperatures to find the best sinter temperature for the clay.  Our test strips have been the proof of a full sinter for the other Silver metal clays (960/999) Aussie Metal Clay has produced.  A test strip is a small strip of clay that we do the “bend” test with.  If the bend test works then the test piece will bend without cracking or fracturing.

Aussie Metal Clays first piece of “Argentium Silver Clay” to show the high shine

In April of 2017, after so many tests that completely failed, we had our first successful “soft bend” test strip.  A soft bend is a partial circle bend without fracturing and a full bend is a complete circle without fracturing.  The “Argentium” Silver Clays we made were beautiful and shiny, with a smooth surface.  The result of a successful soft bend before a fracture was very promising.

With the knowledge of our initial success with the soft bend, I reached out to the Argentium International Limited on 4/24/2017 to obtain information on what was needed to use their trademark and logo.  At that time, Argentium International introduced us to Master Silversmith, Mr Peter Johns, the inventor of Argentium Silver. Peter is a wealth of knowledge and with his guidance and experience we worked towards the common goal of creating an Argentium Silver Metal Clay.

With Peter’s assistance, our tests went to a whole new level.  We did many many more tests over the next 2 years and what we found was we had to minimize oxygen to Argentium Silver Clay to eliminate oxidation.  This allowed us to have a successful, sintering, metal clay.  We had finally achieved success!

Peter Johns working, for the first time, with Argentium Silver Clay at Ana Townsends Studio in the UK

Peter Johns went to Ana Townsends, an Aussie Metal Clay team member, teacher and Aussie Metal Clay seller (A Cat Jewellery – www.acatjewellery.co.uk), to test the Agrentium Silver Clay for himself.  Coming from a metalsmith background, using silver clay was a new experience for him.  Although Kim wasn’t there, she got to watch via skype.  It appeared that the consistency and the rolling of the clay was a surprise to him to see how smooth and non sticky the clay actually was.  Peter was straight to business and very interested in learning and understanding the process and how it all worked.  It was funny for Kim and Ana to observe Peter’s reactions.

10/3/2019 is the day that it all came together and these 2 “farm girls” have brought the coveted Argentium Silver Clay to the metal clay market.  Aussie Metal Clay has been the one company that has presented many firsts in the metal clay industry.  However, the Argentium Silver Clay is one of our proudest moments quite honestly and as always, we are happy you are on the journey with us. 

Argentium How To Videos

COMING SOON!

Argentium Photo Gallery

Kim Booklass & Peter Johns Interview

Aussie Metal Clay is proud to present the much anticipated interview with Master Silversmith Peter Johns, the inventor of Argentium Silver and Kim Booklass, Argentium Silver Clay Metal Clay Innovator. Aussie Metal Clay would like to thank, both, Peter and Kim for the last 3 years of testing and the creation of Argentium Silver Clay. To date, we have many products that we were first to bring to market but Argentium Silver Clay, by far, is our proudest moment.

As the maker of Aussie Metal Clays, my part in the creation of the Argentium Silver Clay is small in comparison to the immeasurable hours Kim has put into this project. Kim’s devotion to the clays shows through once again. Kim, thank you for all you have done! Without the collaboration & support from Peter and the devotion of Kim, Argentium Silver Clay would not exist. Again, thank you Peter and Kim for working together to create this amazing and “ground breaking” Argentium Silver Clay that we are proudly presenting to ALL metal clayers and mixed media artists worldwide.

A NEW ERA FOR SILVER

Argentium is the most significant development to silver in hundreds of years.

Argentium Silver was invented by Master Silversmith, Peter Johns at Middlesex University, London.  His initial research concentrated on eliminating firestain in traditional Sterling silver, using the element Germanium.  Germanium was also found to add further benefits, including tarnish resistance and heat-hardening properties.

Argentium Fact Sheet

Why is Argentium Silver brighter and whiter than other precious metals?

Argentium’s unique formulation enhances the appearance of the silver, giving an incredible natural brightness and lustrous beauty that outshines white gold, platinum, palladium, rhodium and traditional Sterling silver.

Argentium – purer than Sterling and Britannia – Argentium Silver Metal Clay is Argentium 960 (96% minimum silver content)

Different standards have been established to guarantee and identify the purity of silver articles. Standards include Sterling silver – requiring a minimum of 92.5% silver content and Britannia silver (UK), which specifies a minimum silver content of 95.8%.

The higher purity Argentium 960 raises the silver level above the prestigious UK Britannia standard which means Argentium’s superior purity ensures that finished items are of the highest quality.

Why are hardness and durability important?

It is beneficial for silver to be soft and malleable where forming and shaping processes are required during the production of jewellery and silverware however, it is important that finished articles are hard and durable so that they are not vulnerable to damage.

Will Argentium Silver work harden?

Yes, while Argentium has excellent formability in its softened state, the silver will work harden to achieve superior hardness and durability.

Can Argentium Silver be heat hardened?

Yes, Argentium’s unique formulation means that the silver can be effectively hardened by a simple, low temperature heat treatment. Unlike traditional Sterling and Britannia silver, even soldered Argentium Silver items can be heat hardened.

What does this mean for the customer?

Finished pieces made in Argentium are harder, stronger and more durable than traditional Sterling and Britannia silver. This means that Argentium Silver articles are more resistant to damage from scratches, denting and deformation – this is particularly beneficial for jewellery items that are regularly worn.

Tarnish testing Argentium Silver

It has become the industry norm to test so-called ‘tarnish resistant’ alloys with a single industry recognised procedure. The Argentium approach however, is far more demanding and further tests are required to ensure we provide the best quality alloys available today.

Sulphur test

The sulphur test reproduces the effects of sulphur and sulphurous gases found in the atmosphere and everyday substances. This test is based on a standardised corrosion testing procedure used within the precious metals industry.

Perspiration test

This test reproduces the effects of perspiration and skin contact with silver alloys. The testing procedure is ‘borrowed’ from a standardised procedure used in the spectacles industry.

Ultraviolet test

The ultraviolet test determines whether alloys are photosensitive to ultraviolet light. This is especially applicable to silver articles that are on display and exposed to sunlight.

The overall tarnish test results, clearly illustrates how the family of Argentium Silver alloys exhibit superior tarnish resistance.

 

What is firestain?

Firestain is a dark coloured, copper oxide stain that forms when Sterling silver articles are heated during production.

Why is firestain a problem?

Firestain can penetrate deep into the surface of silver articles, requiring acids and abrasive processes to remove the stain or plating processes to hide the stain. These procedures however, not only increase manufacturing time, labour and costs but there are also environmental and workplace concerns associated with hazardous chemicals and practices required for firestain removal and plating.

What are the benefits of firestain free Argentium Silver?

  • Argentium does not require acid and abrasive processes to remove firestain or plating processes to hide firestain.
  • Manufacturing time, labour and costs are saved.
  • Environmental and cost benefits from not having to dispose of toxic chemicals required to remove/ hide firestain.
  • Workplace benefits from not having to use firestain removal and plating processes.

Traditional Sterling silver has long been associated with discolouration where skin and jewellery are in contact, which in certain cases has resulted in the wearer suffering an adverse reaction. There has also been increasing awareness in recent years about the anti-allergy benefits of nickel free silver.

  • Argentium Silver is hypoallergenic and is well-suited for those who are unable to wear traditional Sterling silver jewellery. Argentium also has antibacterial properties.
  • Argentium Silver alloys do not contain nickel.

A growing demand for responsible silver

  • There is an increasing awareness and demand for the preservation of our natural environment – to conserve energy and natural resources and to reduce waste and pollution.
  • Some practices in the silver industry use toxic chemicals and hazardous procedures for removing/ hiding firestain – a penetrating, dark coloured oxide that forms when Sterling silver is heated during manufacturing processes. Such practices are undesirable in the workplace and the disposal of toxic waste products also raises environmental concerns.

What makes Argentium Silver responsible?

  • Argentium is always made from ethically sourced and recycled silver.
  • Argentium’s excellent firestain resistance makes hazardous processes associated with removing and hiding firestain a thing of the past.
  • Argentium’s unique and superior properties reduce manufacturing time, labour and resources.

Why Argentium Silver Clay

With Argentium Silver Clay, you won’t need to use solder.  Because of the ease of fusing with Argentium, you can just use flux and a butane torch to fuse your pieces.  You can even fuse Argentium to sterling silver.  However, if you are more comfortable with solder, Argentium solder is available.

Firestain is very common when working with sterling silver due to the oxidation from the heat.  When soldering/fusing Argentium Silver Clay, you will have no firestain.

Although Argentium Silver Clay will get a surface “dirt” from skin oils, etc., it does not tarnish like sterling silver.  

Traditional Sterling silver has long been associated with discolouration where skin and jewellery are in contact, which in certain cases has resulted in the wearer suffering an adverse reaction. There has also been increasing awareness in recent years about the anti-allergy benefits of nickel free silver.

  • Argentium Silver is hypoallergenic and is well-suited for those who are unable to wear traditional Sterling silver jewellery. Argentium also has antibacterial properties.
  • Argentium Silver alloys do not contain nickel.

Why is Argentium Silver brighter and whiter than other precious metals?

Argentium’s unique formulation enhances the appearance of the silver, giving an incredible natural brightness and lustrous beauty that outshines white gold, platinum, palladium, rhodium and traditional Sterling silver.

Argentium – purer than Sterling and Britannia – Argentium Silver Metal Clay is Argentium 960 (96% minimum silver content)

Different standards have been established to guarantee and identify the purity of silver articles. Standards include Sterling silver – requiring a minimum of 92.5% silver content and Britannia silver (UK), which specifies a minimum silver content of 95.8%.

The higher purity Argentium 960 raises the silver level above the prestigious UK Britannia standard which means Argentium’s superior purity ensures that finished items are of the highest quality.

Argentium Silver Clay FAQ’s

Argentium Silver Clay and Argentium silver should not be quenched after heating or soldering.  Because of the Germanium, Argentium acts similar to glass and will “shatter” if you quench immediately after heat.

Yes, Argentium Silver Clay can be hallmarked.  You can get the hallmark from Argentium International here

In the process of being updated

Unlike .960 and .999, Argentium Silver Clay needs to fired in the absence of oxygen to eliminate the oxidation of the metal by atmospheric oxygen. This can be accomplished by firing in premium activated coconut carbon.

In the process of being updated

No, Argentium Silver Clay can not be torch fired as it needs to be fired in carbon.

You will receive the hydrate with your purchase of the Argentium Silver Clay.  However, yes you can purchase additional hydrate separately.

No, you can not rehydrate the Argentium Silver Clay with Kim’s original Clayspray.  The only thing you can use to rehydrate is the Argentium Silver Clay hydrate.  Do NOT use tap water, distilled water or any other type of water.

In the process of being updated.  At this time, you can not use the Superflex pen with Argentium.

No, you can NOT use Kim’s original Claystay with the Argentium Silver Clay.  You will need to use the Argentium Silver Clay Claystay as it is a specific formula.

Argentium Testimonials

Martha Schmidt

…The first thing I noticed was the lovely workability fresh from the package – there was no need for kneading it or rehydrating it, it was smooth and non-sticking, ready to work with… The clay takes texture very well and releases without problems. I made a little twig for further testing. I also found that the clay carves very well in dry state…  . As Argentium is known for its ability to fuse, I took the little twig I had fired and a piece of Argentium sheet metal and fused them using Borax as flux. The twig fused seamlessly to the sheet – I’m seeing great potential here for people who don’t want to solder or for designs that lend themselves to fusing!

Robyn Heritage

I have recently had the pleasure of using Aussie Metal Clay Argentium.  The option of having the strength of Sterling Silver in a clay, without the oxidizing effect opens up so many more possibilities of construction…The powder is very easy to mix…the consistency of the clay is silky smooth and amazing to use… holds texture perfectly, sculpting and carving is very easy, in fact, any technique I used had incredible results.

In my opinion Aussie Metal Clay Argentium is actually the nicest/best silver clay I have used to create my sculpted rings.

Ana Townsend

I have been having great results testing and working with the New Aussie Clays product, the Argentium (Silver) Clay. This fine silver powder when mixed with the Argentium Hydrate produces a soft and non sticky clay. The consistency is silky and very pleasant to work with. It rolls well, has good working time, textures beautifully and carves easily. Very strong clay before and after firing. Cleans and polishes like a dream and the shine is amazing. I am very impressed with the quality and properties of this so innovative clay. Enormous potential. Amazing achievement.

JoAnna Phillips

The first thing I noticed when I received the Argentium Silve Clay was the texture.  It had a bit of a thicker, smooth, supple consistency that I found worked amazing as it rolled well and textured nicely! 

The most exciting thing for me was the fusing ability of the Argentium Silver Clay as soldering has been a bit of a nemesis for me.  Very excited about using this clay as a mixed medium with sterling silver sheet metal bangles with the Argentium Silver Clay overlays and adornments.  So many options!