Silver Gemstone Jewelry
Nowadays there are various metals for jewelry. Gold alloys can be made in many colors, bronze is in trend, and white metals, such as platinum and palladium are timeless. Silver alloys have been traditionally associated with flatware, coins and jewelry. Pure silver is typically too soft for jewelry use. In fact, like gold, silver can be hammered into ultra thin sheets. Thus, silver is alloyed to increase its strength and durability.
Silver is an attractive bright white metal that can be highly polished. In fact, silver has the most brilliant polish of all the precious metals. The polish of silver can have a mirror finish or a satin look. This makes it a great metal for jewelry. Additionally, silver is relatively inexpensive. This means that a good collection of white metal gemstone jewelry can be accumulated without paying for white gold or platinum. Silver jewelry can be worn alongside white gold jewelry, since it matches in color. In fact, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two.
Like gold, silver can be alloyed with other metals to increase its strength and durability. Sterling silver is an alloy that contains a minimum of 92.5% silver. It is usually alloyed with copper, which strengthens the silver while allowing it to be ductile. Other, newer alloys with white metals are also used to help reduce "firescale" (unattractive staining that occurs when heating silver and copper alloys) and the patina which can develop over time on copper. Sterling silver usually bears a "925" stamp, which indicates that it contains 92.5% pure silver. Sterling silver gets its name from European silver coins and the UK currency, pounds sterling is named after a weight of sterling silver.
Silver has been used by ancient civilizations such as the ancient Anatolian people of Asia Minor, who mined silver from what is now known as Turkey. Silver was also used by the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia; now Southern Iraq, where a silver lyre was discovered in the Royal Cemetery at Ur. The ancient Egyptians valued silver because they considered it to be rare. They believed that the skin of the gods consisted of gold and their bones were made from silver. Similarly, in the ancient Aztec belief system, precious metals were said to have come from the gods. Gold represented excrement of the sun gods and silver was believed to be the excrement of the moon gods. This precious material was procured for the Spanish Empire by the conquistadors, which led to European commercial use of silver coins. In turn, the currency of the United States of America was based on the value of silver.
Silver has been traditionally worked by various cultures all over the world, such as Greek, Tibetan, Chinese and Thai silversmiths, who produce extremely fine silver jewelry. Silver jewelry was popular in Europe during the Victorian era, while around the same time, Native American silversmiths produced fine silver gemstone jewelry. Mexican silversmiths are credited with passing on their knowledge of silver 'stamping' to Navajo jewelers.
One of the downsides of silver jewelry is that tends to scratch and wear over time. Some jewelry lovers see this as an attraction because they like the way that the silver looks when worn. When it comes to rings, wear and tear is much higher than other jewelry items because of the amount that we use our hands. Some people like their rings to look new and, despite being extremely resilient, silver can develop a black tarnish over time. This is caused by contact with sulfur, causing the formation of silver sulfide. However, the tarnish can be remedied with some careful cleaning. There are several methods of cleaning silver jewelry and with each, care should be taken not to scrub the silver, but gently rub it with a soft cloth. If silver jewelry is promptly cleaned when it begins to tarnish, it will remain white. Silver jewelry should be stored away from other jewelry, rubber, acid, stainless steel and paint, and wrapped in a soft cloth to prevent scratches and keep it dry.
Although silver is not as valuable as gold, it has its own merits and should not be regarded as an inferior material. Indeed, many people prefer silver to gold due to its beautiful, cool white color and excellent luster. The affordable price of silver allows for more jewelry possibilities than other precious metals, such as large, attractive cocktail rings, cuff bracelets, hair decorations and many other items.
- First Published: September-24-2015
- Last Updated: August-29-2017
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