What is Silver?
Silver is a precious metal that
has an interesting history.
Silver was first mined as early as 3000 BC.
Until the discovery of the New World, silver was a rare metal,
second only to gold in scarcity. Ancient Egyptians used it
for ornamentation, as did the Greeks. The Romans found new
sources for silver, and began minting coins of silver alloy
as a means of exchange.
With the discovery of the New World by Columbus,
vast reserves of silver became available for everyday objects
like household ornaments and jewelry. Throughout the centuries,
as the supplies of silver have increased, so has the demand.
Besides it uses for jewelry and home decoration,
silver is also important in industries worldwide. It is used
in the refining of oil, in the production of solar photovoltaic
cells, in computer chip production, and as a transparent coating
on double pane thermal windows, to name a few. Silver is the
best conductor of electricity of all metals.
What makes silver so special? It is highly
reflective, easy to work with as it is a soft metal with a
low melting point, and it relatively inexpensive when compared
to gold. Because it is so malleable, it must be mixed with
other metals to make it strong enough for jewelry production.
Pure silver bends easily, making less useful for everyday
Sterling silver is a designation for an alloy
of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. There is a frequent
misconception that sterling silver will not tarnish. In fact,
by its very nature, real silver oxidizes (reacts) in the presence
of oxygen, sulfur, and certain acids.
Silver jewelry that is worn regularly will
not usually tarnish as much as silver that is stored for a
prolonged period. To avoid tarnishing, store silver jewelry
in a plastic bag with anti-tarnishing paper. Avoid using rubber
bands when storing silver because sulfur is a rubber by-product.
Obviously this is not an option for jewelry on display in
a store environment!
To clean tarnish, the easiest way is by using
a dip available at Wal-Mart stores called "Connoisseurs Jewelry
Cleaner." It is a non-ammonia based liquid that cleans tarnish
instantly, but can be destructive to pearls or other organic
gems. After dipping, rinse the piece and dry it thoroughly.
You may want to follow with a light rubbing using a jewelry
polish cloth to help the piece stay bright longer. We use
only sterling silver for the products on our site.
Generally, each piece is hallmarked with a
"925" stamp, but some pieces are too light to be stamped.
Rest assured that everything we sell is guaranteed to be at
least 92.5% silver.
article written by Mike McGinnis and published originally
We allow republication provided the piece is copied in its
entirety with links and attribution.)