Hi all, I had some interesting questions from one of my customers, I thought I would share the info. it may help some of you as well.
Regarding Sterling Silver Chains: I buy them already made up with the clasps etc. different sizes. At the moment I am in Thailand so I get them locally, when in Australia I get them from Transglobal Trading in Brisbane. I don’t know where you can buy them in the States but there must be many suppliers, try Google and see what you come up with.
I know http://www.riogrande.com/ sell a lot of jewelry stuff you can try them. You can buy it on a roll which would be good because then you can cut the chain to any size you want, but then you have to order the jump rings, fish plate and clasps separately.
Regarding Silver Plated wire and chains: With the Silver plated wire I never used to bother treating it or anything like that. Yes, it has a limited lifespan as far as the plating goes. I’m not sure what you could do to prolong the life of it, you can buy coated wire – the only place I have seen is on this site in the UK http://www.wires.co.uk/acatalog/NON_TARNISH_WIRE.html
If you can’t find similar in the States, you may have to order it from them. As far as non tarnish silver plated chains, I have never seen them. Unfortunately all the silver plated chains i have come across tarnish with different lengths of time.
Regarding Sterling silver wire and chains: I use normal sterling silver wire and chains. I have had only one or two complaints that the name went black but that was back in the day when I recommended Silver Dip which comes in a can and you can dip silver pieces in it to clean it. I don’t recommend it any more.
You can use “Argentium” silver it is apparently better than normal 925 silver. Here is a link to the wire you can use: http://www.riogrande.com/Product/Argentium-Silver-Round-Wire-1-2-Hard/103718?Pos=1 Bear in mind I have never bought any wire from Rio Grande, but I have bought pliers and their ordering system is excellent.
These days I recommend half-hard over hard drawn as it is easier to form. But again it is hard to tell until you have the actual wire and start to use it to determine if it is the right type of wire for you. I would order maybe small amounts of half-hard and hard so you can then judge which is best.
Hope that helps ! – Andy.