Silver, known for its shiny silver hue, is one of the three basic metals used for producing jewelry. Sterling Silver Jewelry has always been a popular choice with women. However, the acceptability and demand for silver jewelry as a fashion accessory has shot up considerably in the past decade.
The present popularity of silver jewelry can be attributed to the elegance and versatility associated with it. It is today accepted as a more contemporary jewelry option vis-à-vis the expensive and heavy traditional gold jewelry. In fact, on Silver jewelry comparing one finds out that little has changed in the designs of gold jewelry over a period, whereas, fashion demands have created an environment where the trendiest designs are often created for costume and silver jewelry.
Most silver jewelry available as on date is crafted out of sterling silver. Sterling silver is an alloy containing almost 93% silver and 7% copper. The seven percent alloy gives the silver hardness and durability. Without the alloy, the silver piece would be too soft to wear.
Today, a wide variety of stylish jewelry pieces are available in sterling silver ranging from plain silver to silver crafted with colored gemstones. From a fashion perspective, sterling silver is mainly suitable for daytime wear. During winters, silver gels well if worn with black, blue and other dark colors. Yet in the summer, worn with pastels and lightweight clothing, silver looks cool and comfortable.
Silver in History
Silver is one of the oldest found metals on earth. It has been extensively used in jewelry and utensils since 4th millennium B.C. First attempt to mine silver is said to be have been made around 3000 BC in the areas of Anatolia. A process,”cupellation” was found out in order to extract silver from silver ores around 2500BC.
Silver was used in ancient Italy and Greece for making personal ornaments, vessels, jewellery, arrows, weapons and coinage. It was used as currency in many civilizations. Silver coin as a currency was first introduced in the eastern Mediterranean in 550 B.C. The discovery of the American countries marked an important twist in the history of silver as the major silver mines in Mexico, Peru and Bolivia were found.
The term “Sterling Silver”, emerged in England by the 13th century.
The pound sterling was used as currency in England from the 12th century until the middle of the 20th century.
During the same time, in the far east, Chinese silversmiths produced some of the most elegant and beautifully crafted silver jewellery some of which was exported to the Royalty of Russia.
Sterling silver, while no longer used in circulating currency anywhere in the world, is still used for flatware, jewellery and plates. Production facilities that use modern technology to supply fashionable silver articles to high fashion jewellery retailers, have evolved as a result of growing demand.
Caring tips for silver jewelry
Sterling silver jewelry gets tarnished fairly quickly. Silver tarnish is caused by oxidation reaction between the silver, oxygen and sulfur. Over a period, sterling silver develops a dull finish that gives it an antique look. Over exposure, builds up a black oxidation in the fine details giving the jewelry piece a beautiful and unique look.
To minimize the oxidation process while storing silver jewelry, it should be stored in an airtight container lined with something soft. Time to time cleaning is required to maintain the silver shine. Common cleaning methods include:
- Using warm water and mild dish soap
- Using a soft toothbrush or cotton swab
- Frequent hand polishing with a soft cloth
- Toothpaste is a very effective tarnish remover but it should be cautiously used if the jewelry piece has gemstones in it
- Many commercially developed cleaners work well for removing silver tarnish. However, it is important to know the side effects of the cleaner before using it.
Explore Silver Jewelry
Today, silver jewelry is available in attractive designs and patterns throughout the world. For avid silver jewelry fans, it is not just the design, but also the origin of the piece that matters. Indian, Thai, Native American, French designs in silver are a rage amongst women and have become accessible through a number of online shopping options available.
Six Common Questions About Sterling Silver Jewelry
Sterling silver jewelry has been a popular commodity for thousands of years. One of the obvious reasons is the affordability over other precious metals gold and platinum. The large variety of sterling silver jewelry requires certain knowledge in order to choose the right piece and also keep it in good condition as long as possible. The followings are the most common questions concerning sterling silver jewelry.
How do I clean sterling silver jewelry?
It depends. Usually, it is sufficient to use a jewelry cloth (with two layers of cloths in different colors) that you can get from a jewelry accessory store. Don’t use any hard object to clean sterling silver jewelry; even paper towel could scratch the surface. You should rub any dirt off using a jewelry cloth, not fingernails. Silver-dip is another commonly used sterling silver jewelry cleaner, which can also be obtained from jewelry store. The entire jewelry is immerged in the solution for half a minute to a minute and then rinsed with water. Make sure the silver jewelry is not plated with any other metal before using the silver-dip or the plating will be damaged.
Where do I store sterling silver jewelry?
It is very important to store sterling silver jewelry properly when it is not used. The ideal place to store sterling silver jewelry is cool and away from sunlight. Heat and light will turn a silver jewelry yellow and cause it to tarnish quickly. Even indoor light source like fluorescent lights or light bulbs turn the color of silver jewelry over time. If you expect not to wear a certain piece for a long time, put it in a air-tight bag and store it in a drawer.
What types of silver jewelry plating are there?
Unlike gold and platinum, however, pure silver is rather unstable and oxides rather quickly. Therefore, silver jewelry is usually plated with another metal to protect it from tarnishing. There are two kinds of plating for silver jewelry: nickel and rhodium plating. Nickel plating has a more whitish look and rhodium plating has a darker look. Rhodium is used to plate white gold and platinum jewelry and is much more expensive than nickel, and it give better protection to the silver underneath. On the other hand, some silver jewelry is not plated. For instance, high polished sterling silver jewelry does not have any plating and the surface is polished by machine to render shininess. Also, “oxidized silver” jewelry is oxidized on purpose to give a dark antique look and is not plated with any other metals.
How do I know the purity of my silver jewelry?
The purity of sterling silver refers to 92.5% of silver in the alloy. In order to confirm the purity, the metal itself has to be sent to a laboratory to be tested. However, most of the sterling silver jewelry produced nowadays has a “925” stamp to indicate the authenticity of the jewelry. Although there are cases where stamps are forged and the metal is either not silver or the purity is not as stated, they are very rare.
How about engraving and resizing?
Engraving and resizing of sterling silver rings is rather simple due to the ductility and relatively low melting point. However, make sure your jeweler understands the process of refinishing the ring and that they possess the necessary equipment Silver jewelry to do so. Not all jewelers have the equipment to recoat the rhodium plating after cutting and welding the ring. Also, rings set with stones are sometimes not resizable because resizing might cause the stones to pop out. Such settings include channel and invisible settings.
Can I wear sterling silver jewelry if I am allergic to nickel?
Yes, just make sure the jewelry is pure sterling silver, not plated with nickel. Even Rhodium plated sterling silver jewelry sometimes contains a nickel layer between the silver and the rhodium to act as an adhesive. Hence, buy only high polished sterling silver jewelry if you are allergic to nickel.
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