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All You Wanted To Know About Silver, Silver Hallmarks & The Silver Content Of Different Alloys

Are you confused by silver hallmarks and what they mean?

About my Medium: Silver Clay

My fine silver jewelry is made from a product called Precious Metal Clay (PMC) which was introduced in 1990 by Mitzubishi, the Japanese car manufacturer. They patented a process in which minute particles of pure silver are blended with a binding material to give it the consistency of clay. When dried and then fired in a kiln at 1650 degrees Fahrenheit, the binder burns away and the silver particles shrink closer and closer together leaving behind solid metal (a process known as “sintering”). The silver used in this process is recovered from discarded medical, computer and photography equipment, so it is kind to the environment.

PMC makes fine silver clay which contains 99% silver as well as sterling silver clay which contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. Both are easy to work with in forming jewelry but sterling is more difficult to fire because the copper oxidizes at high heat unless an airless environment is created in the kiln. I mix fine silver clay and sterling silver clay together. This blend is 96% silver. It has the advantage of being easy to sinter and the 4% copper it contains makes it stronger than fine silver alone.

From an artistic perspective, silver clay is a tremendously exciting medium. It can be molded, textured and shaped to create designs not previously possible with traditional silversmithing techniques. Textures as delicate as individual fingerprints can be captured, and complex three dimensional shapes can be formed, all without using casting equipment.