A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO SILVER JEWELLERY
While it may be a myth that magpies and crows are attracted to shiny things, it's certainly true for us humans! There's just nothing like the beautiful shine of silver to entrance us, as it has done for thousands and thousands of years. Did you know that the ancient Egyptians prized silver more highly than gold?
According to colour psychology, silver is calming, soothing and symbolizes wisdom. Feeling introspective? Silver will help you shine light on your path forward.
In fact, silver is the most reflective element on earth-reflecting 95% of visible light, making it ideal for sparkly, alluring jewellery pieces.
This precious metal is a jewellery lover's dream: affordable, versatile, durable and hypoallergenic (great for us sensitive types!).
So let's dive in and discover some key facts to know about silver!
WHY IS SILVER CONSIDERED A PRECIOUS METAL?
To be considered precious a metal must meet three criteria:
1) It must be valuable.
Silver has held value and been used a form of currency for over 4,000 years. This isn't likely to change anytime soon!
2) It must be naturally occurring.
While silver is usually found combined with other metals or in minerals that contain silver compounds, pure silver does occur naturally in the earth.
3) It must be rare.
Out of approximately 90 known metals, silver ranks 65th in abundance (gold ranks 72nd), making it pretty rare.
If you were curious, the other 7 metals considered precious are gold, platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium.
WHAT IS STERLING SILVER
Sterling silver is an alloy (combination of metals) of pure silver and another metal, usually copper. Pure silver is very soft and malleable and isn't suitable for jewellery, so another metal is added to make it more sturdy. The addition of copper to silver creates a metal that is still silver in colour but is much harder and more durable than pure silver.
This alloy must contain at least 92.5% pure silver to be classified as sterling silver.
WHAT DOES .925 MEAN?
925, or .925 silver is sterling silver. It is 92.5% silver and 7.5% another metal (usually copper). At Mikel Grant Jewellery our sterling silver is always 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, a hypoallergenic alloy. So, you never have to worry about a nickel allergy when you purchase sterling silver from us.
WHAT DOES .999 MEAN?
Pure silver, called "fine silver" is 99.99% silver. Fine silver is often used for bezels in jewellery making because it is soft enough to bend over a stone without compromising the integrity of the piece.
WHAT IS ARGENTIUM SILVER?
Argentium silver is a relatively new alloy and is also considered sterling silver. It contains 93.5-96.5% pure silver and is combined with germanium instead of copper to create an alloy. Germanium is a metalloid (an element with properties that are intermediate between a metal and a non-metal) that is added to make the silver more tarnish resistant ( 7X more so than traditional sterling silver). Argentium is also considered hypoallergenic.
All of our silver ear wires at Mikel Grant Jewellery are handcrafted using argentium.
SILVER AND YOUR SKIN-TONE
I'm sure you've read an article or heard advice or rules on which metals you "should" wear with your skin tone but we absolutely don't subscribe to that fallacy. Silver (and for that matter gold), looks great on all skin tones so don't even consider whether you "can" wear silver or not. You can! If you love it, wear it.
SILVER JEWELLERY IS VERSATILE
Silver is a neutral and has no single complementary colour making it extremely versatile in fashion.
Silver pairs well with other metals so don't be afraid to mix and match your metal colours. I especially love the combination of oxidized (blackened) silver with gold. Silver also complements all gemstone & pearl colours. It's simply a gorgeous multitalented metal.
Another aspect of silver that makes it so versatile is it's affordability. As you know, silver jewellery is generally much more affordable than gold.
Jewellers love silver as well for its versatility-it's malleable enough to work with, it looks amazing with different finishes from super shiny to matte to patina'd. And as we mentioned earlier, it creates very durable finished pieces-your sterling silver jewellery can last you a lifetime.
Because of this you can find endless designs in silver from earrings and necklaces to bracelets and rings and any other jewellery piece you can think of.
If silver were a performer, it would have an EGOT!
SILVER JEWELLERY TARNISH
Silver is naturally prone to tarnishing. Even pure silver will tarnish due to the presence of sulfur-containing gases in the atmosphere. However, tarnish is easily removed using one of our polishing cloths.
The best way to prevent your silver jewellery from tarnishing is to follow the golden rule of jewellery wearing: Last on, first off. Put your jewellery on only after you have put on perfume, lotions, sunscreen and body products. At the end of your day take your jewellery off, give it a quick wipe and store it in an airtight environment if possible.
If you want to learn more about tarnish, what causes it, how to clean very tarnished jewellery and jewellery with gemstones and pearls, check out our blog: Tarnish: What Causes It & How to Clean Your Tarnished Silver & Gold Jewellery.
ANTIBACTERIAL & ANTIMICROBIAL PROPERTIES OF SILVER
Yes, silver actually does have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties!
Silver has been used in medicine for thousands of years, and is still used today to treat burns & wounds and to create bandages and catheters. Silver is also used to disinfect water and is useful as a coating on door handles in medical environments to reduce germs.
Here's an interesting article on how silver kills bacteria and its "zombie effect" on bacteria🧟♂️
STERLING SILVER GIFT TRADITIONS
Sterling silver is the traditional gift for a 25th wedding anniversary, also known as the "Silver Anniversary". Durable, lustrous silver is the perfect metal to symbolize the strength and longevity of a union. This tradition actually dates back to at least the 1700s when a wife would receive a silver wreath to mark 25 years of marriage.
Silver is also a traditional baby gift from relatives, friends or godparents. This tradition also has interesting historical origins. According to the Royal Mint, "Throughout history, crossing the palm of a newborn baby with silver was also seen as a way to wish them wealth and good health throughout their life."
So, are ready to start building or adding to your silver jewellery collection?
Consider a few key silver jewellery essentials: