Buying Sterling silver blanks
I have been using nickel, aluminum, and copper for stamping. I see that a lot of people have been using sterling silver and selling their jewelry for reasonable prices. I seem to not be able to find sterling silver for good prices so I don't see how people can make any money at it. Do you know of a good wholesaler that sells sterling for cheap?
Also, what is the difference when using nickel versus sterling?
Nickle silver also known as German silver is a copper copper-zinc-nickel alloy and contains no fine silver. It's silver-ish in color. It is much harder than fine or Sterling silver and therefore more difficult to work with. When using thicker gauges of the metal, exercise caution when using punches, shears, etc. as nickle silver can damage tools due to it's hardness. I think of nickle silver as not as "user friendly" as copper or silver is!
As to the price of Sterling silver? With silver spot prices soaring, the price for silver products and Sterling "raw" items like wire, discs, sheet-metal, etc. are continuing to go up. Silver prices are based on the silver spot price plus a fabricating fee usually $5 per ounce and up depending upon what you're buying. Most jewelry supply companies offer discounts for volume pricing. Because the pricing is based on the daily spot price (what the world is trading silver for), supplier prices are all very similar. It's not going to be "cheap" anywhere, but it sure is a bargain compared to working in gold!
If you like a silver look, but not silver prices, then silver-filled may be a better option for you. Silver-filled (brass with a coating of silver applied) items are gaining in popularity. Many jewelry supply companies carry a wide variety of silver-filled items. The price is about 1/3 that of Sterling for the same items. It's available in 1/10 or 1/20 silver content.
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