Archeologists’ tests indicate that humans have created objects and ornaments out of silver since 4000 BC, just after their discoveries of gold and copper. Silver is now the most plentiful of the precious jewelry metals. Like platinum and gold, silver is malleable, scarce, and noble (non-corroding). It also has a bright, lovely luminosity that makes it desirable as a jewelry metal.
In ancient times, silver was mined in areas surrounding the Mediterranean — especially in the countries now known as Turkey and Greece. When polished, this lustrous white metal achieves an almost glassy shine, so it was used to create sacred items, jewelry, and the ancient luxury item we call the mirror.
Pure Silver and Silver Alloys
In its pure state, silver was considered too soft to retain a crafted shape or design, so it was alloyed with other metals for increased strength. Today, silver is most frequently alloyed with copper. The best known alloys are Sterling (92.5% silver) and Britannia (95.8% silver). Many countries used silver as their currency standard for hundreds of years. In 1900, the US Congress passed the Gold Standard Act, permanently shifting the nation’s financial focus from silver to gold.
Silver still has many uses in modern society. It is valued in industry for its conductivity and honored in medicine as a powerful antiseptic. The art of photography could not have been developed without this precious metal. Silver is forever loved in fine and affordable jewelry designs.