Cheeky Little Prints goes Sterling!

Fine silver…

As some of you may know,  I started handcrafting silver keepsake jewellery in April 2009 (nearly 8 years ago).  I have really enjoyed creating all of your special keepsakes using a fantastic material called Art Clay Silver (ACS), which is a clay like material containing recycled silver particles, an organic binder and water.  When fired the organic binder and water burn away, leaving the silver particles to melt and fuse together, creating fine silver (99.9% pure silver).  Up until now all of your jewellery has been created with Art Clay Silver (ACS) and is 99.9% pure silver.

New advances in silver clay…

As with everything in life, things change or improve and advances in technology are made.  The silver clay industry is no different.  Back in September 2016 the company who manufacture ACS brought out a new version called professional grade Art Clay Silver 950 (ACS 950).  Due to being very busy creating all of your wonderful Christmas gifts and keepsakes during the last few months of 2016 I decided to wait until the new year before trialing the new sterling silver clay.  I wanted to make sure I had time to familiarise myself with the new clay and create several pieces of jewellery and check I was happy with it.  The firing schedule for example is very different to the fine silver ACS.

 

Silver charm with raised paw print.
Regular sterling silver curved heart charm with raised paw print.
Large silver heart charm with hand & footprint and hand inscribed name.
Large fine silver heart charm with hand & footprint and hand inscribed name.

Purity…

I have now created several sample jewellery pieces with the new ACS 950 and am very happy with it.  The sterling silver jewellery essentially looks the same as the fine silver jewellery.  However, after firing, the sterling silver jewellery is 95% silver and 5% copper, meaning if it were to be hallmarked, it would meet the purity criteria for hallmarking as sterling silver in the UK.  Under current legislation, any silver items weighing less than 7.78 g do not need to be hallmarked. On average the pendants, cufflinks and key rings etc used to create my jewellery weigh less than 7.78 g and, therefore, do not need to be hallmarked. You will find the sterling silver components of your jewellery e.g. chains and cufflink fittings are stamped with a 925 sterling silver hallmark.

Size…

The fine silver ACS I have been previously using shrinks by approximately 8 – 10% during firing as the water content burns away.  The professional grade ACS 950 shrinks during firing by approximately 10 – 13% so slightly more.  This shrinkage is volume based.  I have measured the small heart charm in both fine and sterling silver and the difference in size is approximately 0.5 – 1 mm so not really noticeable.  The difference between fine and sterling silver for the large rectangle for example is also approximately 0.5 – 1 mm.

Strength…

There are several advantages of using professional grade ACS 950 over the fine silver ACS including it’s creamy and pliable texture when in it’s clay form, it takes texture very well and it straight forward to kiln fire.  ACS is a form of PMC (Precious Metal Clay) and previous versions of sterling silver PMC had more complex firing schedules involving carbon but that is not necessary with the new ACS 950.

The other main advantages of ACS 950 is that it is approximately 60% stronger than the fine silver ACS and produces a lovely bright shine when mirror polished.  The extra strength is due to the 5% copper in the sterling silver and makes it an ideal choice for jewellery designs that take a lot of wear and tear.

I will now be creating all of your jewellery with the professional grade ACS 950 as I am keen to pass on the benefits and advantages of this new silver clay to my clients.  If you have previously had jewellery created by me in the past and would like to order more that is absolutely fine.  As I mention above, the jewellery looks essentially the same and the size difference is minimal.  If you would like to compare the two types of jewellery please get in touch and I can show you some jewellery samples.

I am looking forward to capturing your extra special memories in sterling silver gifts and keepsakes 🙂

Take care,

Lisa x