Can't afford Sterling Silver

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DebWAZ wrote
on Apr 23, 2011 6:20 PM


German Silver is also known as Nickel silver, Argentann, Paktong, New Silver, Nickel Brass, or Alpacca, Alpaca is a copper alloy with NICKEL and often zinc. The usual formulation is 60% copper, 20% NICKEL and 20% zinc. 

German or Nickel Silver is named for its silvery appearance, but contains no element of Sterling Silver unless plated.

Beadalon advertises their wire as being German STYLE made of copper and brass.  When I called them and asked them if anything else was in it  or if Nickel was in it, they could not definitely say no,but that there was.  I talked to two people and they said I could call back to talk to someone else tomorrow that might know more than they did.

If someone is going to be allergic to jewelry it is the Nickel that they are allergic to.  As the years go by, more and more people are saying they are "allergic."  I don't know if this is because of the toxicity of  our food, water, and environment or if people are more delicate today.

However, even Sterling Silver has Nickel in it.

If you are allergic, there is a very easy fix, because Nickel is everywhere even in musical instruments, silverware, pots and pans, money, etc.  Almost anyplace you find metal, you can find Nickle.

Take a Vitamin E capsule - not Vitamin Oil for it has been cut - take the oil out of the capsule and massage the piece of jewelry, ear wire, etc. with the Vitamin E Oil until it has been absorbed by the jewelry - metal is porous - or your skin.  Even the most allergic can wear Nickel this way.  It may have to be repeated about once a year, but I know people that do it once.





I hate to disagree with you but - according to my husband, who has been a jeweler for close to 30 years - the standard formulation of sterling is 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metal - most of the time this other metal is copper, but other metals are used depending on the properties desired in the alloy.

To be double sure, I checked several sources and only one of them mentioned any use of nickel at all in an alloy of sterling silver. The alloy of sterling silver has rarely had nickel - rarely, though not never.  However, the use of nickel in any precious metal alloy is being eliminated because so many people have reactions to nickel.

You are correct that German, nickel silver, and alpaca are not silver. I can't count how many times I've had to disappoint a customer by telling them that their "genuine silver" bracelet from Mexico doesn't have a bit of silver in it and can't be repaired. Apparently they think "Alpaca" is a brand, like Nike or Chevrolet. :-(

I'll have to remember your Vitamin E tip - I have reactions to some plated findings, so this will be helpful to me - and I'll pass the tip along to customers with the same problem.






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jamberrysong wrote
on Apr 27, 2011 9:09 PM

Claudette, thanks for the tip about the Vitamin E oil! I'm definitely going to have to try that; my family and I are all very sensitive to nickel so I sympathize with other jewelry makers and customers who are forced to be picky because of their skin. Yes

"We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams." - Willy Wonka

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DianeBead wrote
on Jun 19, 2011 4:01 PM

actually the parawaire is coated with a 99.99% fine silver then clear coated to prevent tarnishing. However I have had some lately that has tarnished but not all of it.   They may have tried a different formulation hopfully only temporarily. as not all wire gages have been effected.

As for twisting and hammering, you may want to try sterling. 

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Claudette48 wrote
on Jun 22, 2011 2:02 PM

Thank you, Deb and PLEASE always disagree with me if I am incorrect or if I have left out something.  There are a lot of people reading this forum and they should have the correct information - always.

I should have said some sterling may have some nickle.  I actually did not mean to indicate that it was all, and that is certainly what it looked like.  It only makes sense for them to be cutting down on the nickle everywhere since so many are allergic.

Warning!  Warning!  If you are buying sterling or gold chain (or anything) always carry a magnet with you, particularly from someone you haven't bought from before.  Check everyone to be sure.  After a wholesale show I went to ended I invited several people including some dealers to my room.  One of them, who I had known for quite a while, brought a lot of sterling chain to offer at a "great price."  I went to pick some up and it stuck to my magnetic bracelet.  I looked at him and by the color of green he was turning, I knew that he hadn't known.  It could happen to anyone, so be careful.

There is a lot of chain out there marked Sterling or 14 K gold and the link is - the chain isn't.  If it sticks to the magnet, it's not sterling or gold.

Thank you again Deb - sometime I'm going to be in Arizona and I'm going to stop by to see you!




Tip: To stop metal findings from tarnishing store in a ZIP Lock bag with a chunk of chalk.



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Abby Hook wrote
on Jun 23, 2011 3:23 AM

I too use copper wire, as well as sterling silver. It is really nice to work with and if you oxidise it, it looks wonderful.

With regards to cleaning wire, a cheap trick, for wire that has oxidised when you don't want it to, is to clean it with a small amount of toothpaste (not gel) and an old toothbrush. Wash the toothpaste off using some diluted washing up liquid, rinse well and polish to a high shine with a soft cloth. 

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