I work in 22k gold, sterling and fine silver. Other than the cost of the metal with gold being 45 times more costly than silver, the biggest difference between them is silver’s ability to be oxidized. Oxidizing sterling silver allows the artist to color the metal with a patina. The patina accents the intentional difference in surface textures and details and allows subtlety to stand out. High karat 22k gold will not oxidize, thus subtle differences in surface textures are lost to the eye. The artist needs to exaggerate the textures, design separation and other details to make them visible to the viewer. With both metals, refined detail can be lost in the overall inherent shine. Oxidizing silver fights this loss. With gold, stronger textures and deeper separating lines are needed to compensate for metallic shine. In short, silver’s oxidizing properties allow the artist to use a lighter hand; gold needs more force with the hammer to expose the intended design.

There is really no difference in what can be accomplished with either sterling or gold. Silver requires more annealing (the softening of metal through heating and quenching). Being much softer, gold needs much less annealing but has far less inherent strength; consideration needs to be given to the actual structural values within the piece which can limit – not what can be done but what can work – in a piece of jewelry or other chased object.

I admit to an aesthetic preference for sterling silver. Minute detail can be made to jump out and become a primary focus point; it reflects pure unaffected light back at the viewer and can pick up and display colors from what it’s reflecting. Gold is always gold; it can reflect back colors but it always adds its own stamp. Gold is a valuable metal; silver is noble. Both are a pleasure to work with and have their own rules to achieve desired effects and results.

The finishes on my work are accomplished intentionally.