Metals play a crucial role in the creation of modern jewelleries. It induces dramatic impact by affecting not just the overall appearance but also its cost and durability. Silver is one such endearing metals and the market is flooded with silver of various types. If you are a fan of silver, it is important for you to know and differentiate between the various types.
Pure silver or what is also known as fine silver is reasonably soft, extremely malleable and susceptible to damage. Hence, it is usually combined with other metals to render it with a durability. Though various types of alloys are used the most popular is the sterling silver. Sterling silver is an alloy of silver, basically a combination of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of other metal, mostly copper. Zinc, platinum and germanium are other metals which may be used in sterling silver. Sometimes silicon or boron may be combined to perk up the properties of the metal.
Though any metal can make up the 7.5% portion of sterling silver, several and years long experiences have shown that copper is the best alloy as it enhances the hardness and durability of the metal without disturbing the beautiful color. Sterling silver is bright, shiny and light. The small amount of copper added also does not make much difference on the value of the metal. However, a disadvantage of copper is that it is very susceptible to corrosion and oxidation and hence, sterling silver tarnishes very easily. Tarnish can be delayed, however, it cannot be prevented. Tarnishing is not due to any kind of fault in the material rather it is due to the chemical reaction with sulfur particles present in the air.
History of Sterling Silver:
Silver captivated men and women since the dawn of civilization. The recognition of its exclusive features led to the early creation of decorative items, ornamental items and gifts. During the ancient times, silver was used to create intricately decorated tableware, which also had a mirror-like shine. The 12th century people discovered the alloying properties of silver and how it could be mixed with other metals to produce a more durable material. This discovery eventually led to the discovery of the sterling alloy in Europe.
Sterling silver was initially used to make monetary coins to buy goods. For many centuries it was widely used throughout Europe, specifically where modern Germany is located. The sterling silver pennies of the Early Norman were embossed with small stars. Hence, many people are of the opinion that the term ‘sterling’ came from the Old English word ‘steorling,’ which means ‘with a little star’. In another story, the Germans compensated the payment of the English cattle with silver coins which were given the name ‘Easterlings’ which was later widely accepted as a standard English currency. The term ‘Easterlings’ was eventually shortened to ‘sterling’.
Sterling silver items like flatware and tea sets were very popular from 1840 to 1940. It widely led to the extravagant dining practices amidst the very wealthy. Within a short frame of time sterling silver made its way into jewelry. Jewelries of the Art Nouveau period (1890 to 1905) were made with silver. However, it was in the Art Deco period that the jewelries of sterling silver became rampant. Since its entry into the industry of fine and designer jewelries, sterling silver never went out of fashion.
Due to its affordability and malleability, sterling silver has become a favorite for most jewelry designers. It can be molded into any shape imaginable. It makes for a special gift for a special someone and stands as a touching expression of love, friendship and celebration.