Silver jewelry has long been popular, and whether it’s a fine Tiffany silver, antique sterling, or even antique Chinese silver, buying and selling silver has never been more popular. Silver jewelry has a long history, and here are some of the most interesting facts about silver and the way humans have used it.
Why Do We Have So Much Sterling Silver
You’d think that people would want pure silver plated tea sets or Tiffany silver jewelry, but sterling silver is the norm. There’s a reason for that. Pure silver is much too soft to use in items for the table or for jewelry. In order to make silver hard enough for use, the metal must be alloyed–mixed with another metal–that lends it hardness. In the case of sterling silver, that’s usually copper. Most sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. Most sterling silver from the 19th and 20th century was marked either with the word sterling or the with number 925, so when you see Tiffany silver 925 on a necklace, you know what it means and have your first step to dating it.
The earliest evidence we have that people were mining silver comes from the area of ancient Greece and Turkey. The Royal Society of Chemistry reports that they were mining silver in this area 3,000 years before Jesus Christ was born. Silver has been important to human commerce for so long that the word for “silver” and the word for “money” are identical in 14 of the world’s languages. The first silver coins we know about come from 550 BC and the eastern Meditteranean region. During the Han dynasty of China (206 BC to 220 AD) silver coins were part of official currency: however, only the royal family were permitted to use them. The first U.S. silver dollar was minted on October 15, 1794.
Why Silver Shines
One of the reasons that Tiffany silver necklace is so valued is the incredible shine. Silver is one of the most reflective materials known to man, and this accounts in part for its enduring popularity. Polished silver, in fact, is able to reflect 95% of the light spectrum visible to human beings.
Silver and Jewelry
Silver is one of the two most-used precious metals in jewelry (the other being gold). Silver has always been thought to enhance beauty and set off precious stones, but the first instance of silver being used in this way was actually with bowls, cups, and other items important to religious rituals. Over time, the beauty of silver and its ability to set off other items became valued as a form of human decoration, as well. Ancient jewelry made with silver have been found in a Sumerian queen’s grave from 3000 BC. For most of human history, silver has been something only the wealthy and powerful were able to afford, and sometimes the ruling classes would even forbid anyone but themselves to wear it. It wasn’t until the 17th century that people began to regularly be able to wear silver jewelry even if they were not powerful.
What’s the Deal With Tiffany Silver?
Tiffany silver is so popular that the name Tiffany is almost synonymous with jewelry. The company is 175 years old and have set the standard for excellence for most of that time. Tiffany was the first to move away from the ostentatious styles of European jewelry design and showcase natural styles that actually allowed the beauty of the materials to shine through. Natural beauty was the Tiffany philosophy, and it changed the world of jewelry completely. Today, the Tiffany engagement ring setting is the standard for most engagement rings, and Tiffany silver is still one of the most valued types of Jewelry in the world.
Silver has been valuable since human civilization began, and it’s not going anywhere fast. Silver jewelry will always be a great way of enhancing an outfit, boosting your self-image, and showing how much you treasure the person you gift it to.