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Sterling Silver-Filled Product Testing

by Sandra Lupo, Metalsmith, Jewelry Designer and Instructor Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Sandra Lupo used, tested and analyzed sterling silver-filled components and wrapping wire. Here are her discoveries and results.

Earwires:
Test Notes Conclusion
Tarnish by Wear: This product will tarnish over time. These earwires are suitable for any and all designs
Durability: Ring opens and closes repeatedly with springiness (not brittle).
Oxidizing: Consistent color (with liver of sulfur and Cool Tool Patina Gel nuggets in warm solution).
Polishing/tumbling: Color was mantained; finish was lustrous.
Allergic reaction: No reaction (worn by someone who is typically allergic to plated metals).

Jumprings:
Test Notes Conclusion
Size: Accurate measurement using the brass slide gauge. This jumpring mix is suitable for most chainmaille applications and generally connecting and linking.
Shape: Round, accurate 18 gauge thickness with brass slide gauge.
Flush ends: Very clean--no burrs.
Wire manipulation: open/close well.
Work-hardening: Work-hardens slightly less than sterling silver.
Soldering: Not Using stick solder, flux and butane or propane. Solder flowed but ring surface became rough like skin and reddish. Surface appeared, as with firescale.

Round Wire:
Hardness Test Notes Conclusion
All Tempers: Work-Hardening (Hammering): Tested, 18 and 22 gauge wire. 18 gauge--surface performs well (no cracks) when a small simple loop or spiral is made. 22 gauge--surface performs well (no cracks) when a small simple loop or spiral is made. Work-Hardening performs the same as sterling silver applications.
Oxidizing: 18 and 22 gauge spirals were oxidized with liver of sulfur or Cool Tool Patina Gel. Compared to similar sterling spirals, the sterling silver-filled performed just as well. Oxidizing performs the same as sterling silver applications.
Polishing/Tumbling: Brass polishing and tumbling on sterling silver-filled spirals performed as well as similar sterling spirals. Polishing/Tumbling performs the same as sterling silver applications.
Dead-Soft Wire: Wire manipulation: 30, 28 and 26 gauges dead-soft can be crocheted. Dead-soft silver-filled wire in 18, 22, 26 and 28 sample sized were generally good for the various applications suited for thin or thicker gauges. Compared to sterling silver, this sterling silver-filled wire could be substituted for the sterling and would do well in wireworking designs.
A sample spiral was made in 18 and 22 gauges. Both 22 and 18 gauges performed well in being spiraled and forming small circles.
Half-Hard Wire: These wires have been tested only for their springiness versus the dead-soft wire. They spring just as much as sterling silver half-hard wires. Half-hard wire should have the same results as sterling silver applications and can be tested at a later date.
Full-Hard Wire: These wires have been tested only for their springiness versus the dead-soft and half-hard wire. They spring just as much as sterling silver full-hard wires. Full-hard wire should have the same results as sterling silver applications and can be tested at a later date.

Note: Sterling Silver-Filled--items are made by combining a durable outer layer of sterling silver (.925/20) surrounding a copper-alloy core. Use care when polishing, tumbling and/or soldering this product as the inner copper-alloy core may become exposed. For best results, testing these applications is recommended.

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