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Jewelry-Making With Silver PMC ®

Silver PMC stands for "Precious Metal Clay."  Relatively speaking, Silver PMC is the new kid of the block, having been developed in the early 1990s. (PMC is also available in 24- and 18-karat gold and platinum.) 

Silver PMC was invented by Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, a Japanese company.  Essentially, Silver PMC suspends small silver particles of microscopic size (about 20 microns) in an organic binder that has the look and feel of clay.  This clay can be molded and sculpted into virtually any form with your hands or tools.  As such, it can be used to create jewelry, art pieces, and most anything else that the mind can imagine.  Silver PMC is so versatile that it can be used to make silver parts that are later soldered together.

The magic comes when the molding is done and the piece is fired in a kiln.  When the clay is heated at the appropriate temperature, for the prescribed length of time, the binder burns away, leaving in its place a piece of art consisting of 99.9 percent silver.  The resulting product will be lighter and more porous than traditional silver, however.  As such, it will not be as strong. 

At present there are six PMC products on the market:

  • Silver PMC was the first product.  It has more binder in it than the other PMC products.  As a result, during the firing process the final piece will shrink (proportionately) by about 30 percent.  Since there is more binder in PMC, the material will be easier to work with.  However, firing at 1650 degrees Fahrenheit will take a couple of hours.  The final product also lacks the strength (because of its lower density) to be used as a finding; it would not be appropriate to use PMC to make a clasp or toggle, for example.  Silver PMC comes in clay form only.

  • PMC+ combines more silver and less binder to create a clay that is quite stiff.  As a result, the art piece shrinks less (about 10%) and can be fired in just 10 minutes at 1650 degrees Fahrenheit.  The final object is also more dense than one created with PMC, and as a result is a bit stronger. 

  • PMC3 can be fired at just 1290 degrees, which has some advantages at the finishing stage.  This product comes in thee forms: clay, syringe and slip-paste.  It has the same degree of shrinkage as PMC+.

  • The company also produces three silver art clay  products, named ArtClay, ACS Slow Dry and Artclay 650.  These products fire at an even lower temperature and have the lowest shrinkage, at around 8 percent.  Since these products require such a low temperature for firing, they allow for embedding other materials into the art piece, and also make some enameling possible.

For both quality and safety purposes, firing should be done in equipment designed for the task, such as a kiln, in a well ventilated area, and according to the manufacturer's specifications.

The beautiful silver PMC pendant pictured above comes from artisan Carol Augustine. Visit her site, PMC Studio Art Jewelry.



Index Of Articles

"Silver 101"
"Sources of Silver"

"Sterling Silver Defined'"
"Silver Standards"

"Silver Marks and Hallmarks"

"Silver Testing Kits"

"The Silversmith"
"Silver Coins"

Plating & Treatments

"Silver Plated Jewelry"
"Gold Vermeil Jewelry"
"Rhodium Plated Sterling"
"Antiqued Silver"

Fake Silver Jewelry

"Alpaca Silver Jewelry"
"German Silver Jewelry"

Silver Jewelry Styles

"Bali Silver"
"Indian Silver"
"Thai Hill Tribe Silver"
"Tibetan Silver"
"Turkish Silver"

Silver Allergies

"Silver/Nickel Sensitivities"
"Hypoallergenic Jewelry"

Recent Developments

"Argentium® Sterling Silver"

"Silver PMC®"

"The Origins of Tarnish"

"Tarnish Removal"

"Firescale (Firestain)"

"Proper Silver Storage"

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