And my Answer about Argentium:
“Great question! And a very typical problem for Argentium even if you don’t touch or move it during heating.
One possibility is that if you are starting with a work-hardened argentium sheet, when you heat or anneal the sheet, it will warp and that warping will create cracks – ones that you might not see at first. If you start with a dead soft sheet this might help prevent warping.
Another possibility is any air or space below the sheet – if there is a gap under the sheet while you are heating it, it will buckle into that space and develop a crack – one you might not see while fusing.
You can flow solder into the cracks, but you might find yourself in the same position if the sheet isn’t totally flush to the solder board the whole time.
Using charcoal as a solder surface for larger sheet pieces can also prevent this. You can preheat the charcoal before laying down the argentium sheet and get a more even heat.
I heat my charcoal block before laying the sheet down and the even heat seems to help it do better and warp less, but it’s not a sure thing.
To fix the crack for now, I would seek out someone with a laser welder if you can.”
I also let her know that there are other alloys of tarnish resistant silver like Sterlium, which is not supposed to crack as much during heating and annealing. I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds promising.
Other alloys include Continuum Silver – sterling that uses palladium in place of most of the copper.
Before using alternative sterling alloys in your work, I highly recommend buying a small amount and testing it with your jewelry.
I found that when I started using Argentium years ago, I had to adjust how I worked in small ways. For instance, if I was used to pushing my piece around the solder board, I now had to pause and allow it to stop being red hot before moving it.
What questions do you have about using alternative alloys of sterling silver? Drop them in the comments below!