Thursday, May 31, 2012

Silver







by Staci Louise Smith

I began my jewelry making journey using silver.






It's my first love in jewelry.



Back when I made pieces like this, silver was around $8-$12 an oz.  You know I go big with my pieces, so I used A LOT of silver in them.  A few years ago it started climb, reaching $50 at times.  It's come down again, but in order to maintain a certain price point, $28-30 an oz. is still a bit high for me.  (and things like chain and metal clay are much higher then just the current rate per oz)

Then I heard about silver filled wire, sheet and chain.

Silver filled is sterling silver over brass, and it is 100x thicker then silver plated.  It patina's and antiques the same as sterling, and it says that it can be soldered. 

Jewelry Supply has some great information on it here.
And Rio Grande has even more here.

I purchased some silver filled wire, and chain, and clasps, because I want to make ankle bracelets for my sea glass festival. I got this great rolo chain in silver filled.
for less then $5 per foot.

The same chain in sterling silver is $33.75 per foot.  HUGE savings.   So an ankle bracelet with sterling would retail for about $80.  I think its a win win.  The one I made below will retail for only $45.

(This is the one I made for myself to test it out.) 

So far I have worn it for almost a week, in the ocean, walking the boardwalk, at night, everywhere and all the time.  I plan to keep it on until my sea glass festival.  The chain is tough (good for anklets), and I made it adjustable in length. 

I can't find where I read it, but one of the suppliers claimed the silver will never wear off. 

I haven't tried to solder the wire, but I did try to ball it in a torch and it was a disaster.  The silver and brass ball at different temps and its a melty mess. 

I think its important to offer the best prices AND quality to my customers.  I agonize over pricing, and make it as fair to everyone as possible.  So I am really happy to find silver filled and hope it does last a lifetime.

So what have you guys found?  Did you try this out yet?  Any advice or thoughts on silver filled?


15 comments:

Alice said...

I have used the silver filled wire and it acts just like sterling. I'm so glad there is an alternative since silver is my first love. I will have to try that lovely chain.

Off the Beadin' Path said...

Your post is well-timed, Staci! I didn't know that silver-filled sheet was available. I've been using silver-filled wire with a copper base. It looks great, but the ends have to be carefully filed or the copper shows. That's not always a bad thing, I like to combine silver and copper sometimes. The savings make it worth the inconvenience. Love your ankle bracelet!

lunedreams said...

I think Cindy Wimmer did a post on it once too (Sweet Bead Studio), and she mentioned she had tumbled it after antiquing it and it did just fine. I bought some but haven't used it yet.

mairedodd said...

i agree, i have some heavy gauge wire that i was planning on soldering today - will let you know how it works...
exciting to hear about the sheet...

Kathleen Lange Klik said...

I recently antiqued some silver filled wire with liver of sulphur and it worked beautifully! I made ear wires with it and they are a bit sturdier than sterling silver! I am loving silver filled!

I didn't realize chain was available, I will have to look into the resources you suggested.

Kimberly said...

I bought some silver filled wire at the gem show in Tucson when I saw the sign that advertised "silver field wire" not knowing what exactly it was but the price was right. I had to laugh at myself when I realized the sign meant silver filled wire. I still bought it and have been happy with using it in my oxidized wire wrappings although I haven't applied heat to it yet. Thanks for educating me about the brass content. I really wasn't sure about its makeup.

Julie Holmes said...

Great post Staci! I've had to adjust in this economy too...though with enameling it's more the time that it takes that drives up the price than the materials. However, I've stopped using 24Kt. gold wire and started using fine silver instead. I like gold better because silver doesn't agree with some enamels...but c'est la vie in today's times.

Julie Holmes said...

..oh and forgot to say. Your work is stunning! It's the kind of work that separates the home silversmiths from the true jewelry designers. It's clear you have the heart, the eyes, the soul and the hands. I love it!

Juliette Williams said...

Thanks so much for this information. I'm slowly working towards using silver a bit more, and really welcome sources like this!
xoxo Juliette

Cynthia@Ornamental Style said...

I haven't done much wire work but since I want to start making my own clasps and ear wires I bought silver-filled wire from Monsterslayer. I truly can't see the brass core even in the 16 gauge wire. (My eyes aren't so young but I can see really well close up.)

Erika said...

I have used silver fill wire for clasps, and the silver most definitely wears off where the metal rubs against the other side of the clasp. I'm not sure if all silver fill has the same thickness of silver around the core metal (mine was filled with copper), but I wasn't really happy with it.

Cindy Pack said...

Thanks for posting this Staci. Your jewelry work is beautiful! I too started my jewelry journey in silver- mostly fine silver. And I am a silver "purist" if you will. I want(ed) my silver to be fine or ss. I have even been mentioning in my listings- all metals used are genuine fine or ss. I think a lot of jewelry artists use plated or filled and don't mention it in their listings. I just can't compete with the lower prices (I feel like) Honestly I never considered it an option until reading your post. You've opened my eyes to it. Thank you! :) I will look into trying some.

Erika said...

P.s. Those silver and pearl pieces are gorgeous!!

Libby Leuchtman said...

What really gets me is the average customer does not realize how much the price of silver has increased.
I have had so many question pricing until I explain the increase in silver prices.

I am very interested in this silver fill wire!

Your pieces are wonderful.

MoonRae said...

I have to agree with Erika...I also used it for a couple of clasps and it did wear and show the copper core. I've been told there is some with a "white" brass core so I'm hoping to find some of that and see how it goes

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