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Author Topic:   Carrs Lustre Silver
June Martin
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Posts: 1326
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 10-15-2006 01:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A previous thread in these forums discussed the use of germanium to produce a sterling silver that is tarnish resistant. Germanium or Argentium

Researchers from Sheffield Hallam University’s Materials and Engineering Research Institute (MERI) and UK silverware brand Carrs of Sheffield, have developed another ‘stainless silver’ alloy that resists the discolouring effect of pollutants and retains its bright finish. It is being marketed as Carrs Lustre Silver.

The product line that I briefly scanned on the retail website was pretty pedestrian and boring. Are any silversmiths using this new Lustre silver for more interesting works and how does it compare to more traditional sterling silver alloy and the germanium alloy?

World first for silver that keeps its sparkle

Researchers in Sheffield, the city famous for stainless steel, have developed a ‘stainless silver’ alloy that resists the discoloring effect of pollutants and retains its bright finish.

The groundbreaking alloy, developed by researchers from Sheffield Hallam University’s Materials and Engineering Research Institute (MERI) and leading UK silverware brand Carrs of Sheffield, could boost the global market for silver, often dismissed as the ‘poor man’s gold.’

The new product outshines standard sterling silver by keeping its shine and colour intact, putting an end to regular polishing and high care costs. Marketed as Carrs Lustre Silver, makers hope it will change the public’s perception of traditionally high-maintenance silverware.

Dr Hywel Jones from MERI said:

“The biggest problem with silver as a precious metal is that it tarnishes with time. The yellowing or blackening of the metal means that traditional silver items like cutlery are increasingly unattractive for the modern market, because they need a lot of upkeep.”

“The new alloy has exceeded all our expectations and is a development of great significance. Silver has been used by man for 5000 years and this is one of the most important developments in that time.

"It has potential to be exploited in areas other than silverware, for example in electrical connectors, a huge market in today’s world of computers and electronic control systems"

Independent tests at the Sheffield Assay Office and the Cutlery and Allied Trades Research Association (CATRA) have proven its resistance to tarnishing, which occurs when silver reacts with sulphur containing substances in the air, forming a silver sulphide film that blackens the surface of the metal.

Dr Jones said:

“Previous attempts to produce a ‘stainless’ silver by adding germanium for example have resulted in alloys that were difficult to manufacture. Not only does our alloy resist tarnishing, but it can be cast, rolled, worked by silversmiths, soldered, heat-treated and polished without any of the problems that can arise when you change the chemistry and mechanical properties of an existing alloy. It’s also resistant to fire-staining, which makes the production process more efficient.

“The ‘stainless’ silver finished product requires no polish; just a simple wipe with a cloth restores its original finish, meaning that it’s as good as gold in terms of being tarnish-proof.”

Carrs Silver founder Ron Carr added:

“We recognized the need for a new sterling silver for a new generation, because customers want products that stay looking beautiful with the minimum of effort.”

Lustre Silver has been developed over four years as part of a 2.2m European-funded research project. Manufactured exclusively by Carrs of Sheffield, it will be officially launched at the Spring Fair, Birmingham NEC (5-9 February, 2006), along with a new Lustre range that includes iPod nano holders, business card holders, passport covers and cutlery.

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Paul Lemieux

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Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 10-15-2006 03:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Carrs of Sheffield, one of the largest silver manufacturers in England, produces a wide range of popular forms in silver, including flatware, frames, small tableware, barware, etc. Most of their items have fairly conservative designs, probably so as to appeal to a wider buying public. Their price points are fairly reasonable, at least compared to most American and other European flatware. The quality is fairly nice, though not on a par with Buccellati, Christofle, etc. The store where I work retails Carrs silver, and they are our about our top-selling flatware and silver picture frame vendor. I believe all of their frames and flatware are now made with the "Lustre" alloy. The tarnish-free aspect seems to be fairly appealing to a lot of customers.

Other than Carrs, the only maker I am aware of that has started to experiment with "tarnish-free" silver is Towle. I have seen samples of this line from Towle, which is only made in four patterns. The name of this line now escapes me. The Towle rep I spoke with did not divulge the materials in this new alloy, but I suspect it is the same as Carrs Lustre line. I am not impressed with Towle's flatware anymore (or any flatware from the Syratech companies). It is very poor quality compared to antique examples, and I believe much if not all of it is now made in Puerto Rico.

The Carrs Lustre silver has basically the same look as "regular" sterling. That is, it doesn't have a weird color or strange finish.

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June Martin
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Posts: 1326
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 10-15-2006 04:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Paul. What I hope is that maybe these new "lower maintenance" alloys will get more people interested in silver. Maybe even enough to venture into the more esoteric silver.

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