There are many types of silver of that are used in jewelry making. These include sterling silver, fine silver, reticulation silver, and Argentium® Silver. Nearly all our silver fabrication metal is manufactured from reclaimed material, allowing you to reduce your environmental footprint. Pure silver (or fine silver) is often too soft for many jewelry applications and is commonly alloyed with copper to make sterling silver, a more durable metal that retains many of silver's desirable qualities. An alloy is a mixture of two or more pure metals that are typically combined to increase strength or working capabilities, lower the melting temperature, or reduce the cost. Whatever your needs, Rio Grande offers a broad selection of silver fabrication metals.
Rio Grande measures precious metals using the Brown & Sharpe (B&S) gauge, also known as the American Wire Gauge (AWG). The AWG system of measurement is a stepped, standardized gauge system used for measuring the diameters or thickness of wire and sheet metal. Larger gauge numbers indicate smaller wire diameters or thicknesses. This chart shows B&S gauges and the corresponding millimeter and inch thickness equivalents. Rio Grande offers silver jewelry wire in gauges from 0 to 34, depending on the desired type of silver and shape. Silver sheet for jewelry making is available in a range of thicknesses from 6 gauge to 30 gauge, also depending on the type of silver. In general, the heavier the gauge of silver, the more difficult it is to form and shape, but the stronger it is. Thicker silver materials will require more heat when soldering; in contrast, thinner silver pieces will require less heat for soldering. Thinner gauged silver is easier to work with but does not hold its shape as well, and it's not as strong. This chart shows some common uses for specific gauges of metal.
Silver wire and sheet are available in hardnesses from "dead-soft" to "spring hard." These terms refer to the malleability of the metal. Metal hardness is relative to each specific metal or alloy. Some metals and metal alloys are naturally more or less malleable than others, and what constitutes "hard" in one metal doesn't behave the same way as "hard" in a different metal. Read more about metal hardness in this helpful article. Rio Grande offers silver jewelry fabrication metals in spring hard, ¼ hard, ½ hard and dead soft. This chart compares the hardnesses of the different types of silver. When purchasing silver, consider the intended use, and choose a starting hardness that serves that purpose, minimizing the time needed for annealing as much as possible.
Did you know that you can recycle your precious metal scraps? Save time and money at the bench by using Rio Grande’s Precious Metal Recycling Service for your jewelry fabrication metals, and turn that scrap back into jewelry making supplies. Offering recovery options for silver, gold, silver-filled, gold-filled, palladium and platinum, you can recover up to 85% of the value of your properly sorted scrap. Rio Grande makes sending in your scrap metal and bench sweeps easy and scrap metal returns are usually processed within five business days. Once we receive your metal and asses the value, you can choose to add credit directly to your Rio Grande account, receive a check or a direct transfer to your bank account. You can even donate your bench sweeps to our Sweeps for CERF+ program to help support craftspeople through devastating natural disasters and other emergencies.
With an understanding of the different types of silver fabrication metals available for use in jewelry, you can make informed decisions when purchasing silver for your own jewelry-making needs. Rio Grande makes selecting and buying different types of silver fabrication metals easy and affordable. With very low or no order minimums, metal can be cut by the inch, the foot or almost any increment you need. All forms (sheet, wire, etc.) of the same metal are combined by weight to give you the best overall price break for each metal. The greater the quantity you purchase of each particular metal (regardless of shape or size), the greater the price break you enjoy. Shop our entire selection of silver fabrication metal to get started on your jewelry pieces today.