In the last few years sterling silver has surpassed gold in its popularity as a metal base for jewellery use due to a combination of price, value, versatility and appearance.
From early history, silver has gone by many different names. The name silver is originally derived from the Anglo-Saxon name, 'siolfur'. The “Sterling silver” standard has now became part of the name, commonly being abbreviated to simply "Sterling" the name now refers to one of the highest grade of silver metal. Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925.
Once considered more precious than gold, pure silver is a soft metal with a white, lustrous hue. In addition to jewellery making, silver is used in a wide variety of industrial and decorative applications.
Silver is also used in medical treatments as it is widely believed to have healing properties and certain health benefits. In ancient Egyptian times, some believed that silver possessed religious and spiritual significance, and it was often used during religious worship & rites of passage ceremonies. Silver has a long history of use in antibiotics and sterilisation, with many cultures wearing silver jewellery to stave off infection, cold/flu symptoms etc.
As a metal, silver has significant health benefits that have been used across cultures for centuries. Silver has a clinically proven track record as a powerful antimicrobial agent fighting infection and aiding in cold and flu prevention, wound healing, and more. Silver also helps with internal heat regulation and circulation. Many people have reported improvements in energy levels and balance in moods after wearing silver, its natural properties may offset outside electrical disturbances, improve circulation and overall body temperature balance, and help maintain cleanliness and immunity. Although some may be sceptical of the healing properties of silver, researchers at the University of Southampton have proven that wearing specific types of silver rings can help alleviate symptoms of arthritis in the hands. The benefits include not only helping to reduce pain, but also preventing hyperextension in the finger joints, which is common in those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. much can be linked to the power of belief and mental suggestion, but there does seem to be distinct health benefits to wearing sterling silver jewellery.
One brief word of warning — there are those who are allergic to silver. For these individuals, wearing silver can have the opposite effect, causing a rash or making your skin change colour. If you suffer from a silver allergy, you’ll want to look elsewhere for health benefits in jewellery.
Due to sterling silver having a special acoustic character, some musical instrument manufacturers use sterling silver as the material for making their instruments, including the flute and saxophone. For example, some leading saxophone manufacturers have crafted some of their saxophones from sterling silver, which they believe make the instruments more resonant and colorful in timbre.
Silver is used to make mirrors, as it is the best reflector of visible light known, although it does tarnish with time. It is also used in dental alloys, solder and brazing alloys, electrical contacts and batteries. Silver paints are used for making printed circuits.
Silver bromide and iodide were important in the history of photography, because of their sensitivity to light. Even with the rise of digital photography, silver salts are still important in producing high-quality images and protecting against illegal copying. Light-sensitive glass (such as photochromic lenses) works on similar principles. It darkens in bright sunlight and becomes transparent in low sunlight.
As previously mentioned, Silver has antibacterial properties and silver nanoparticles are used in clothing to prevent bacteria from digesting sweat and forming unpleasant odours. Silver threads are woven into the fingertips of gloves so that they can be used with touchscreen phones.
There’s a special place in many women’s hearts for sterling silver jewellery, thanks to its understated beauty and classic, timeless charm. You only have to look at your TV screens to see that women's silver jewellery is adored by all ages, as well as many celebrities and designers.
Whilst silver can be used as a backdrop for colourful gems, many pieces shine bright without the help of precious stones. This is partially thanks to silver’s fantastic malleability, which allows many beautiful and unique shapes to be crafted from the metal.
Jewellery is a great way to give your favourite clothes a little extra swagger and Sterling Silver jewellery matches with any kind of outfit you choose. I think that's why most people keep silver pieces with their fashion collections as they are really less expensive than gold and diamond jewellery, yet still gives that high end look.
In a related article, read our blog post what is gold vermeil?
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