selppin

Long term darkening with Nickel Silver

19 posts in this topic

Hi,

 

First of all can people with direct first hand knowledge that know about nickel silver please be the only ones that give feed back on the darkening of it in the long them. I don't mean to be a b!tch about this, but I know a lot of people like to talk about how a "friend" or they "heard" on topics, I honestly need to know exactly now it's going to act not how it's been perceived to act through something you heard. 

 

I have several personal items that I want to make, they are all big projects taking thousands of rings. I want to do them with sterling silver as they would look unbelievably fantastic, but at $50'ish per oz each project would be $1,000 or more. With nickel silver being 1/10th the cost of sterling silver it makes the projects a lot more realistic for me budget wise. 

 

However I read on the nickel silver page that "This metal is fairly corrosion resistant and does not easily tarnish although it will darken with age" that part at the end, "will darken with age" is the part that concerns me. One of the main projects I want to do will use approx. 30,000 rings (my estimated calculation) and will take months to finish.

 

I need the sparkle and shine of silver, and nickel silver is an ok'ish substitute at a vast cost savings. But I don't really want to spend months and months working on a piece that will "darken" in a couple years and not longer sparkle to an acceptable level. 

 

I live in Vancouver right on the pacific ocean, so it's really humid here, not sure if that will affect how fast nickel silver will darken or how dark it will get. 

 

I know sterling silver I can polish back to life and get it sparkling again, can I polish nickel silver back up to a high sparkle again? is it difficult?

 

I have some sterling silver and nickel sliver here at home that I ordered from TRL so I could see what it's like in person. But I just don't know how much the nickel silver is going to "darken with age" or how fast it will darken or if it can be brought back to a high shine. 

 

I can't use aluminum because it's too soft, I need something harder like sterling silver or nickel sliver. I thought about using stainless steel, but looking at it here it's just not shining enough for my liking.

 

Thanks for the help.

 

 

Edited by selppin

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I've made a couple of jewellery pieces and a dice pouch with it, but unfortunately all that I still have are clean and shiny at the moment. But when they did darken, it was... Kind of odd. First it got a little more dull and slightly more gold-ish (think like a silvery-gold, rather than a goldish-silver as it is clean). Then it  got very dull, and the tarnish was a kind of greyish-goldish, but not so much that the colour of the metal didn't still show. It doesn't tarnish as fast as bronze or brass (at least not on my skin), but is just as easy to clean with some kind of mild acid. I'll spend the afternoon handling a piece to hopefully accelerate a little bit of tarnish forming.

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It has copper in it which is probably the main tarnish culprit, so treat it like you would any copper alloy, and keep it polished, and dip it in acid + salt to clean off the tarnish once in a while. It's fairly tarnish resistant compared to most copper alloys, thanks to the nickel, but you'll still need to clean it once in a while. That initial tarnish stage where it goes a little bit gold is quite nice. Nickel silver is a great alternative to sterling in its properties (it was developed and was the winner of a competition searching for a cheaper alternative), (and very popular in Central/South American jewellery), as long as you're not sensitive to it.

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I have notice the tarnish on vintage pieces very close to sterling.

My experiance is mostly with 30+ year jewelry found at thrift shops and estate sales pieces marked German silver. This may be a different aloy then what TRL is useing.

The anti tarnish strips from 3m may also help control the darking.

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Stainless steel shines up quite nicely with a few hours of tumbling, mind you. I'd worry about the high nickel content in nickel silver.

 

(Most SS contains nickel as well, but does not release nearly as much of it as NS)

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It seems to darken very very slowly.  In the images below, the left is a piece that my wife has worn almost daily for the past 4 months, and the right is the same piece but just made and polished today.  The actually aren't really that much different.  The untarnished on the right does have a bit more shine, whereas the left is just slightly duller.  But really that's about it, and after 4 months, *and* worn against the skin which is probably about the worst thing you can do to metal (other than be in a humid salty air climate, of course), I'd say that's a pretty good 'rate of decay' as it were.

 

Since Nickel Silver is a different color than silver, and you are looking for the 'shine and sparkle of silver', have you thought about the Bright Silver anodized aluminum?  That'd more replicate the actual color and shine of silver, and certainly be massively tarnish resistant.  And I think even cheaper than NS.

 

Hope that helps.

 

NS1.jpg

 

NS2.jpg

Edited by chadamus

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Bright aluminium is not "massively" tarnish resistant; it goes cloudy against the skin under some conditions (salty/sweaty/acidic), and the worst thing is that afaik it is almost impossible to get off except mechanically (tumbling or stringent polishing). However, many don't have a problem with it, and it would be a good (and reasonably hypoallergenic) alternative.

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Bright aluminium is not "massively" tarnish resistant; it goes cloudy against the skin under some conditions (salty/sweaty/acidic), and the worst thing is that afaik it is almost impossible to get off except mechanically (tumbling or stringent polishing). However, many don't have a problem with it, and it would be a good (and reasonably hypoallergenic) alternative.

 

Didn't say Bright Aluminum.  I agree, Bright Aluminum is not tarnish resistant.   I said Bright Silver Anodized Aluminum.  Totally different, btw.  The anodized version is SO much cleaner than the non-anodized Bright Aluminum.

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Thanks so much everyone for all the feedback, it's been a HUGE help.

 

I really appreciate all the information you've provided me with, you all make this forum the most awesome thing ever!

 

HUGS!!!

 

 

Chadamus - thanks for the suggestion but aluminum won't work, it's too soft, it'll just pull apart after a while. I like aluminum and use it often, but it just won't work for this one.

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Is there a reason Stainless Steel won't work for you? Stronger, a little heavier, But tumble it up and it shines bright as day.

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My bad. The anodised stuff is wonderful, I only wish it came in more sizes.

I remember a fetish clothing chainmaille label I looked at once that sold their pieces very well for hundreds of dollars, that turned out was nickel silver (with rubber). I posed as a customer and asked if a piece could be made in another material I said I was less sensitive to, such as stainless. They said that wasn't possible, and I assume that was because it was tougher stuff to work with. Same weight, roughly the same cost for wire (but stronger and more tarnish resistant and less sensitising), but much harder to cut and bend.

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Hi selppin,

I have made a few large pieces that ended up being more oxidized and dull where i began weaving.

I left them to a proffesional tumbling company that tumbled them all shiny. Regardless the material you will need to put some shine on the piece between the years.

Since you are willing to use nickel .. why not go for inconel or monel? I guess they must be better since if i remember correctly they contain no or less copper than german silver.

Br

C

P.S.

On the subject. Yes i have used german silver and i don't find it worth its price. In my opinion it looses it's shine very quickly.

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I made this many years ago (somewhere around 2003) and it still looks the same now.  It's half brass / half nickel silver and every now and again when it dulls out, I just wash it with dish soap and water and it shines up like new.

 

hp5n1-nickel_brass2.jpg

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Very effective design choice! I didn't know you could clean the patina off brass with soap!

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I just took a picture of it, judge for yourself (different lighting conditions, vastly superior camera).  Same bracelet, 10 years on:

post-119-0-48904900-1369038999_thumb.jpg

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I don't have a tumbler so I can't shine up the SS, and SS never is as shiny as silver. Plus I live in Vancouver, it's humid salty air here, even SS with get some rust with age that will need to be cleaned. And once it's made it'll be to big to place in a tumbler, so it's not a good long term plan.

 

I can't buy Inconel or monel rings, and I don't have a winding jig here so I can't make my own. 

 

Although I'm considering making a winding rig so I don't have to wait so long to get my rings and so I can make rings in the gauge and AR's that I want. However I think I'd just end up spending hundreds of dollars and hours messing around with my winding jig building it and then figuring out spring back, tension, cutting, etc. I really don't feel like doing that, I'd prefer to just buy my rings, I don't want to make more work for myself. But maybe it's time I bit the bullet and started to make a winding rig and buy a cutter. 

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The long term darkening of Nickel Silver will be increased with the humidity and salty air there as well. Stainless is not as shiny as silver I will agree. However for the strength that you are looking for and the amount of cleaning you will need with the nickel silver as it darkens it is either time to invest in a tumbler or go with stainless as it wil wipe down and rinse off easily and fan dry to keep it from holding water.

 

Personally I think its time to invest in a tumbler. Or find someone in the area that can tumble for you. I'd offer but I don't think my tumblers are large enough or close enough.

Edited by Chaosity

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Tumblers are cheap. You really dont want nickel. They are just beginning to understand how different metals affect us in the long run. I refine my scrap from my benches and know the dangers. In  Europe they have to put allergy warnings.

Fine Silver!

Bite the bullet on a noble metal. Silver is the most reflective metal and although soft will never tarnish and will remain brilliant forever.

There is no equal.

Walk into a room and stand next to someone with nickel and notice the difference.

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ModernBazaar for the 5-year Resurrect-O-Thread!!  Selppin's last posting was in 2015, so things have been mighty quiet there.

Silver will tarnish on skin, with humidity, and with sulfur compounds.

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