Using Sterling Silver in Fashion Jewelry Design

Published: 09th January 2009
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Silver was discovered at least 6,000 years ago, and since then, has always been considered to be a valuable metal. Since its discovery, the history of silver and the uses for silver are rich and varied. According to The Silver Institute, a worldwide association of silver miners, refiners, fabricators, and manufacturers, the area today known as Turkey was the first location where silver was mined. That was around 4000 B.C. Around 1200 B.C., the center of silver mining moved to an area near Athens. According to The Silver Institute, during the height of production, the mines near Athens produced about one million troy ounces each year. Over the first millennium A.D., Spain became a prominent producer of silver. With Turkey's 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. 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. Silver jewelry can be designed to meet anyone's fashion tastes and budget. Respected silver jewelry design houses often bring out superb designs to suit the changing tastes of their target audience. The most common sterling silver jewelry items include necklaces, bracelets, silver pendants, earrings, and rings. Designs are quite varied, incorporating precious and semi-precious stones, and cultured pearls. In many cases, the intricate and elaborate designs stand by themselves and do not require enhancement with gemstones. 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. For social occasions like a cocktail party, sterling silver accessories help accentuate your dress to lend it the desired elegance.

Most silver jewelry on the market today is marked "Sterling Silver" or "925 Silver". What is "sterling silver"? Pure silver is really a weakly metal and requires to be blended with alloys for more strength and potency. Sterling silver is actually a combination of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of alloys like copper. The word sterling came forth in England in the 13th century which credibly meant 'potent', 'solid' and 'stable'. 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%.

It is important to take good care of silver jewelry in order to maintain its quality and luster. Exposure to the air causes silver to tarnish, so keep your sterling silver jewelry in a bag made from tarnish-proof cloth, or in airtight container. 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. Only use solutions and polishes that are made specifically for silver cleaning. Use a polishing cloth to clean it and wipe in back and forth, not in a circular motion. Contrary to popular belief, toothpaste is not a good product to use as a cleaner. Toothpaste can contain chemicals that could potentially do more damage than good to your silver. One of the best and most economical methods for cleaning your sterling silver necklace is to make a solution of mild dish washing liquid and water. Finally, remember to keep all traces of moisture from your jewelry pieces by drying them thoroughly. If maintained properly, silver jewelry will essentially last forever.

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