Argex understands that part of today’s fascination with craft skills is born out of the transformation of raw materials into beautiful finished objects. Behind every wooden chair and every ceramic jug is the understanding that without the lump of clay or the section of tree trunk, the maker cannot work their magic.
In the case of silverware and jewellery, every bowl, spoon and earring starts life as bullion. It will need to be supplied in an appropriate form and there are lots of different options to choose from depending on what the metal is intended to be used for. Discs, for example, are the bullion of choice for techniques such as raising and spinning, whereas sheets and bars are suited to techniques such as forging and press-forming.
Argex, based close to Birmingham’s jewellery quarter, has secured its position as one of the prime suppliers of semi-finished items for the production of silver cutlery, hollowware and jewellery in the UK. Part of the world-renowned Greggio Group, which has it headquarters in Italy, Argex was established in 1994 in response to a market need for high quality rolled and drawn silver products, delivered mostly from stock at a competitive price. These key values of consistently high quality, prompt delivery times and competitive pricing have allowed Argex to develop a comprehensive network of loyal and satisfied customers within the UK silversmithing and jewellery sectors.
Argex specialises in a number of semi-finished products, such as sheets, discs, wires, rods, tubes and anodes and its on-site facilities allow them to cut these to desired measurements. It also offers a full service for the melting, assaying and refining of all kinds of silver scrap, lemel (or shavings) and sweeps.
The company is a close-knit team that prides itself on dispatching goods the same day as ordered wherever possible. Their customers range from luxury brands and renowned silversmiths, to universities, colleges and hobbyists.
Before the silversmith so much as looks at a hammer or takes their seat at the bench, there are important decisions to be made about what bullion to start working with; whether to use Sterling, Britannia or Fine silver, the diameter of the disc, the thickness of the sheet, whether a wire or rod should be round, square, rectangular or oval. For special commissions that require a size, shape or form of silver that is out of the ordinary, makers need a supplier that can accommodate unusual requests.
“We like to think we know all our customers. Your account is not a number, it’s your name. We prefer the personal touch.”
“All requests are welcome,” says Kim, “We cut complicated shapes, discs to any size and even shapes such as washers or a trapezium! We try to source anything our customers need in silver. Even if it looks like we don’t stock it, we will try and get it.”
The arrival of Argex parcels in workshops all across the UK mark the end of Argex’s role in the making process but the beginning of that silver piece’s future life as a much treasured whisky tumbler or glorious flower vase. Having cultivated such good relationships with their customers, however, the team at Argex can still enjoy seeing the finished pieces that their bullion becomes once the transformation is complete.
“I see all the products on the shelves here,” says Kim, “The sheet, wires, tubes and rods and then I see the finished products that the silversmiths create and I wonder how on earth all those materials become such amazing objects.”
Proof indeed that for those involved at the very beginning of the making process, the transformation is just as spellbinding as for those who treasure the end results.