By Raymond Jackson
Common Silver Alloys for Enamelling
Sterling silver (7.5% copper in a minimum of 92.5% silver) is widely used for silver articles including jewellery and for enamelling the same. The copper content increases the strength and hardness.
Britannia silver (a minimum silver content of 95.8% and the remainder largely copper) is less widely used but is especially suitable for taking stamps and dies. Being softer than Sterling silver, it is more susceptible to bowing unless counter enamelled. However, some experts state that enamel colours are truer when fired on this alloy. As to cost, there is virtually no difference.
It is reported that the presence of impurities even at low levels can affect the adhesion of enamels. In particular, Selenium and Teluriam can cause problems. To avoid this potential problem, reputable silver suppliers use only fine silver and pure copper in the initial alloy casting process.
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