Jewellery Metals - Silver
Not only is silver one of the most exquisite metals in appearance due to its beautifully soft lustre, jewellery made from silver is a key accessory to any fashion enthusiast since it is both extremely versatile and highly affordable.
Origin & Supply of Silver
Silver was considered to be a sacred metal in ancient times and was represented symbolically as a crescent moon. It has the chemical symbol ‘Ag’ – this derives from the Latin word for silver which is ‘argentum’ and the Indo-European root word ‘arg’, meaning "white" or "shining".
In addition to being used for fashionable adornment purposes, silver has been used for a wealth of important functions – currency, household utensils, art work, electronics, mirrors and even medicine.
Silver is similar to gold in that it is very versatile but also malleably soft compared to other commonly used metals. This makes it prone to developing tarnish, stains and scratches over time if it is not cared for. Nevertheless, silver can take a high degree of polish, which gives it a brilliant white metallic lustre.
Fine silver will be 99.9% pure (hence the “999” stamp you will often notice on high end items), however since it is so soft and prone to bending, jewellers and silversmiths often combine it with other metals. Copper is the industry standard for this purpose, as it gives silver added strength while retaining its intrinsic shimmering colour.
Buying jewellery with a low silver content can cause it to darken from the slightest exposure to humidity, however if the silver content is higher than 92.5%, the piece might be overly soft and prone to getting bent or scratched from everyday wear.
A mark that says ‘925’ or ‘SS’ on an item means that that it is sterling silver (92.5% pure silver), which is your best bet if you want your jewellery to stand the test of time.
Steer clear of anything labelled “nickel silver” or “German silver” as this means the item has no real silver in it at all.
The major jewellery brands such as ‘Tiffanies’ can add up to 80% onto the price tag for silver jewellery just by having their name on it, so they are not the best option for quality silver items.
Bleach and other harsh chemicals will not damage platinum, however they can cause discolouration of any gemstones that may be present in the setting. For this reason it’s always best to prevent jewellery from coming into contact with these types of materials.