It was only a few months ago when those of us who work with silver did some collective screaming about the rapidly rising cost of this precious metal (see past post). Back then, silver was US$23 per ounce. It is now hovering around the $29 mark. There are fluctuations up and down which reflect market reactions to economic news but the general trend is still up.
Silver Price per oz from Jan 1 2010 to Jan 3 2011

Patrick Heller's article Nifty: Silver will be at $50  makes clear that strong investor demand is the main cause of this rise.  Basically, he cites the reasons why he thinks the demand for for physical silver (as opposed to paper trading), which is in short supply, will stay strong. He is not the only one who predicts that but the average forecast for the 2011 cost of silver is in the $39 per oz range. Ouch.

In my past post, I suggested some alternatives to silver. Some of the recent chatter on Etsy forums though is about yet another type of wire I had not come across before - sterling silver filled wire.  Like gold-filled wire, it promises to be an excellent cost effective compromise. The bonding process to coat the copper wire core with sterling silver is also more durable than silver plating. The thicker coating means it contains more silver than silver plate and thus has a higher perceived value.

The 0.925/40 designation for sterling silver filled wire means it is 1/40th sterling silver. The name "sterling silver filled wire" does not imply it is solid sterling silver but refers to the type of silver used to coat the core. Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper hence the 0.925 designation.   It's like what you see for gold filled wire - 10/20, 12/20 and 14/20. Gold filled has to be 1/20th by weight to qualify as gold filled. The numbers 10,12 and 14 refer to the karat value.

According to catdancingranch on Artfire who sells this German made wire,  it can be lightly hammered and sanded. She personally uses Tool Magic on her tools as well as a nylon hammer for work hardening. Some artisans say it can be soldered and tumbled too. Be aware the copper core will show at the cut ends. If you oxidize jewelry, then the resulting dark patina will mask the core.

Just last night, I received Fire Mountain Gem's email newsletter announcing their new line of sterling silver filled wire and findings. They confirm it can be hammered and soldered. I am sure more and more sources will turn up in the future if silver prices continue to go up as predicted.

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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