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A Brief History of Sterling Silver

Posted on March 17 2021

A Brief History of Sterling Silver

The first evidence of silver mining dates to 3000 B.C. in Turkey and Greece. In archeological digs, silver jewelry has been found in the sarcophagus of royalty, along with gold and gemstones.


Pure silver is too soft for making jewelry, so most pieces are made of Sterling Silver. Sterling Silver is a compound made up of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper (though sometimes other metals are used). This standard dates back to the 13th century when King Edward I of England decided that all silver items were to be 925 parts pure silver. And it wasn’t until the 13th century when silver began to be used more with making more jewelry.


During the 1800s, English tableware silversmithing came to America. It wasn’t long before the metal was also used for handcrafted jewelry designs. Into the early Victorian period, fine silver jewelry became more popular with hand-manufactured pieces displaying designs inspired by nature and plant life. Silver was the ideal precious metal for setting stones because of its malleability and bright, white color. At the time, many gemstones included round rose-cut diamonds, amethyst, golden topaz, garnet, and shell cameos, were set in silver.


By 1852, cutting and stamping out silver settings was developed, allowing the jewelry to be made inexpensively. When King Albert died in 1861, Queen Victoria went into mourning and is known for wearing only black until her death several years later. She wore silver mourning jewelry, using blackened oxidized silver set with dark gemstones. Many women imitated her style worldwide.


At the turn of the century, sentimental designs became popular. Silver lockets and engraved or monogrammed jewelry increased in popularity, remembering loved ones or those lost but not forgotten. By the late Victorian period, silver charm bracelets and bangles emerged, bringing with them a more playful side to jewelry with stars, flowers, hearts, and anchor shapes becoming popular choices of charm.


During World War I, there was a large-scale interruption in demand for fine jewelry. In the 1920s, Art Deco jewelry came to be the fashion. Reflecting the time, these designs were made with colorful gems. Women were known to pile on bangles which became a statement of their newfound liberation in the ever-modernizing Western society. The Great Depression affected the jewelry industry in the 1930s, and there was a sudden demand for austerity and modesty in jewelry design after the glitzy jewels of the 1920s. Like World War I, the Second World War meant that wearing precious metals wasn’t necessary, nor were there many occasions at which fine jewelry was appropriate. Instead, the nation buckled down while precious metals were rationed. After WWII, during the 1950s, jewelry design diverged into two separate phenomena. Plastics were discovered, making costume jewelry look like the real thing. On the other side, fine jewelry design moved back into classic styling. Luxury, elegant jewelry became an item worn primarily for formal affairs or to show status, and with this, silver became a less desirable option as yellow gold took center stage.


In the last twenty years, silver has been regarded as a cheap and plentiful metal. But recently its price has risen. Shipments of this metal from overseas will not be sold as cheaply as before. With gold prices as high as they are, silver has once again become a luxury metal


We have many pieces handcrafted in sterling silver. We are able to sell these luxury pieces at very affordable prices.  AND with a 60% off earring sale going on, you can get an even better deal! 


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