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Lapidary / Gemstone Community Forum
December 11, 2018, 06:21:43 pm
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Questions about Argentium and the best way to keep/create its GeO2 layer

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Author Topic: Questions about Argentium and the best way to keep/create its GeO2 layer  (Read 249 times)
GregHiller
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« on: June 27, 2014, 10:27:34 am »

Questions about Argentium and the best way to keep/create its GeO2 (germanium oxide) layer

Okay, so Iíve pretty much from the beginning just been working with Argentium silver.  My procedure thus far has been to do my cutting and soldering, and then clean up and remove excess solder and smooth any areas necessary with somewhat coarse grinding, then move to successively finer sanding.  I usually set any stones before I take the piece to the Tripoli buff, wash off any Tripoli with soap and water then give the final mirror finish with red rouge on a muslin buff. If I decide to harden the piece I put it in the oven at 580F for about an hour prior to the work with Tripoli. 

My question is this.  Apparently the GeO2 layer forms in air at high temps (when you are soldering or hardening), but if you then do any significant grinding (maybe even Tripoli is enough for this to happen?) you can remove the GeO2 layer and therefore the tarnish resistance.  It reforms at room temp in air within two weeks (so Iíve read), but within those two weeks I would imagine there is a significant chance some tarnishing will occur, particularly with the higher humidity and air pollution weíre likely to see in my part of the country this time of year.  Iíve also read that you can get the GeO2 layer to reform even at about 215F for 2 hours, however Iím reluctant to do this though as the very last step as it seems anytime I heat a piece up I start to lose that mirror polish Iím trying to achieve.  I have some of these small black anti-tarnish squares from Rio (Intercept I believe they are called).

I understand that tarnish on silver is really a reaction with sulfides in the air and it sounds like the Intercept squares would stop this reaction while allowing the oxidation process (reformation of GeO2) to proceed.  Presumably then after 2-3 weeks in a Ziploc back with the squares, the silver work could be removed and would be less likely to tarnish in the long run. 

Thoughts on this?
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GregHiller
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2014, 06:59:19 am »

I asked this same question of a moderator on the Argentium Guild forum (which BTW seems pretty dead).  He confirmed that leaving for a few weeks it in a Ziploc bag with the Intercept squares should do the trick.  I've asked to post his entire answer here, but want to get his permission first. 
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