Silver was discovered at least 6,000 years ago, and since then, has always been considered to be a valuable metal. It was first discovered in the region of Anatolia, now Turkey. With its location strategically straddling Asia and Europe, the mines in Anatolia were the primary sources of this metal for Eastern civilizations in Asia Minor, as well as the flourishing civilizations of Greece and Crete to the West. The first concerted effort to mine and produce it dates back to about 3500 B.C. The major breakthrough in the production occurred in or around 1500 AD with the discovery of the new world. Large mines were opened and operated in Bolivia and Peru in South American. North American production, largely in the Nevada, Colorado and Utah spiked in the late 1800s with the discovery and exploitation of major lodes in these areas. The largest producers today are in North and South America.
Its white luster of silver has made silver the metal of choice for jewelry. The earliest jewelry was quite crude, generally limited to crude nuggets strung together as a necklace hair band supplier. With the advances in extraction, purification, and craftsmanship, it has become extremely popular as fashion jewelry. The beauty, luster, and the ease with which it can be fashioned into superb jewelry are just some of the reasons for the ever-growing popularity of this precious metal in the world of jewelry design. Today it is used to make a wide range of jewelry, including silver pendants.
Designs today can range from simple and elegant, to striking and bold, customized to fit each owner’s tastes. Silver jewelry is particularly popular with teens and young adults. Although it is considered to be a precious metal, it costs significantly less than gold or platinum. This is one of the major reasons why it has gained prominence in the world of teen and young-adult fashion jewelry. Fashion jewelry for this demographic today includes pendants, necklaces, bracelets, and waist bands. The popularity of silver in fashion jewelry has also extended into the world of men’s jewelry. Cuff links, money clips, and belt buckles are quite popular.
Most silver jewelry on the market today is marked “Sterling Silver” or “925 Silver”. What is “sterling silver”? The pure metal is too soft to be used in the manufacture of jewelry. The pure metal is therefore mixed with other metals to form an alloy that has better hardness and strength than the original, untreated metal. According to the Federal Trade Commission in the US, sterling silver must contain at least 92.5% pure silver (hence the term “925 Silver”). Copper is usually added to make up the remaining 7.5%.
This metal today is highly polished so that it reflects light and looks beautiful in fashion jewelry. One drawback of it however, is that even minor impurities cause it to tarnish when exposed to the atmosphere. While this is may be a drawback for certain kinds of fashion jewelry, some artisans use this property to create silver jewelry with an antique finish.
It is important to take good care of silver jewelry in order to maintain its quality and luster. Today, special tarnish prevention cloths or bags are available on the market. Jewelry can be wrapped in these cloths, and then stored in common Ziploc bags. Fashion jewelry can be cleaned using a mild phosphate-free detergent, or a mild, non-abrasive jewelry polish. Although toothpaste is sometimes recommended for cleaning jewelry, some believe that some ingredients in toothpaste can scratch the metal settings, leaving the surface dull. If maintained properly, silver jewelry will essentially last forever.