I use both Sterling Silver and Argentium Sterling Silver for most of my work. My metal of choice usually depends on the requirements of the piece I have designed, as they each have different attributes. Some of my designs call for the use of Fine Silver and occasionally I use 14K, 18K and 24K gold, primarily as accents.
Fine Silver is 99.9% pure silver. It can be used for some applications as is, but often needs to be strengthened by work hardening or by adding an additional alloy. Fine silver is naturally tarnish resistant.
Sterling Silver is 92.5% silver and the remaining 7.5 % is usually copper. This alloy gives strength to the silver but will eventually cause the metal to tarnish over time. It is, however, a great metal to work with for many jewelry applications and allows jewelry artisans to create beautiful and very affordable pieces of jewelry. Only a few, very small considerations are needed to avoid tarnish and properly care for your fine handcrafted jewelry.
Argentium Sterling Silver is 93.5% pure silver, and of the remaining 6.5%, some of the copper has been replaced with Germanium. The addition of Germanium makes this silver highly tarnish resistant and is often suitable for people with sensitive skin. Argentium requires some work methods that differ from working with Sterling Silver. It also has many attributes that are invaluable to the artisan and it can be easily hardened for strength.
Other Materials: occasionally I enjoy working with alternative metals and other materials, which may include Copper, Nu Gold, Steel and the occasional found object. Each piece of my work has a clear description of all materials so you will never have to wonder what it is made of.
Earring Components: All my earring designs feature only precious metals that I hand forge into ear wires and posts.