Common Types of Silver
The cool glimmer of silver in the western world
has been linked to the moon and, thus primarily to women. It carries with
it a sense of mystery and allurement, displaying hand-crafted and ethnic
styles. Because of its easy availability and lower cost, silver has
become the leading metal in jewelry. It allows silversmiths the freedom
to experiment with new and innovative styles or to revive traditional
skills and designs.
There are six basic types of silver used in the production of
flatware, hollowware, and jewelry. Following is a brief description of each.
Fine Silver, 99.9% silver, .1% other metals. This is the
highest and most pure type of silver available: 99.9% pure. This pure form is used by the
Hill Tribes of Thailand to create beads, chains and findings. The downside to this pure
form of silver is that it is very soft and easily damaged.
Britannia Silver, 95.84% silver, 4.16% other metals (usually Copper)
Britannia silver was mandatory in England from 1697 to 1720 to prevent the melting down
of sterling coins to create silver objects. Operationally, silver of this quality is marked
in the U.K. and Ireland as "958 silver. It is still in use today, however it is not as
popular as sterling silver.
Sterling Silver, 92.5% silver, 7.5% other metals (usually
copper) The proportions are set by law--change the proporations
and the jewelry is not sterling silver. How to check for sterling silver
jewelry? Over time sterling silver will take on aa antiqued look (called
a "patina"). Make sure you are doing business with a reputable jeweler.
Argentium Silver, 92.5% silver, 6.4% other metals
(usually copper), 1.1% germanium. This form of silver has reduced
the amount of copper with germanium. This metal creates tarnish resistance
in the silver, without lowering the purity of the metal.
Coin Silver, 90% silver, 10% other metals. Coin
silver refers to silverware produced in America from early colonial
times to just after the Civil War. Items of coin silver produced during
this time period are ninety percent pure silver and were made from European
Nickel Silver, 0% silver, 100% other metals (usually
nickel, zinc, and copper) Nickel silver (Often called "German
silver" or "Mexican silver") is made of a blend of the above stated
metals--mostly nickel--and looks much like sterling silver. A side-by-side
comparison will show that nickel silver has a slightly greyer color
tone. Nickel plated items are also available as well as silver plated
jewelry pieces. (These are not quality jewelry products).
All of the jewelry items in JDesigns store are made of
certified 92.5% Sterling Silver.
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