‘Every cloud has a silver lining,’ as the saying goes, and although silver is often associated with coming second, that is certainly not the case with all silver jewellery.
Silver has been mined for over 6,000 years and along with gold, copper, lead, and iron, was one of the first five elements to be discovered and is the best conductor of electricity. Mexico is the leading producer of silver, and it is considered to have mystical powers in folklore, to ward off bad or evil spirits. Ancient civilisations believed that silver brought healing powers and good fortune and there is some truth in this – silver is known to contain antimicrobial properties, so you could argue that it is good for your health!
Because of its durability and workability, silver is so versatile that it has been used as the main part of thousands of pieces of jewellery around the world for centuries. While it is classy and elegant, it is affordable (a fraction of the cost of gold and platinum) and that is why it is so popular in the production of jewellery.
Traditionally silver is used to celebrate and mark milestone 25th wedding anniversaries. It also has a long history of being used as a gift for new babies – people would give silver spoons engraved with the child’s name and birth date to symbolise wealth. This is where the saying, ‘born with a silver spoon in your mouth’ comes from! King Edward VI first introduced the silver sixpence in 1551 and this was seen as a symbol of good luck and prosperity.
Fine and sterling are the most expensive and sought-after type of silvers. When it comes to sterling silver, it must include a strict minimum standard of 92.5 percent silver to copper or other alloys – this is renowned the world over and enhances lustre, strength, and durability. There are also many other types of silver including Argentium, coin silver and silver plated.
Luxury sterling silver jewellery comes in all forms including this necklace from Tiffany & Co or this piece from Hermes. Of course, once you add diamonds or other precious gemstones, that is when the silver jewellery piece becomes even more sought after.
The best way to identify quality silver is to look for the quality mark – a lot of finished silver jewellery will have a quality stamp somewhere on the piece. Often the tiny markings can only be seen under a magnifying glass. Sometimes because a piece is so small and intricate it may be unstamped, but it does not mean that it is not a quality piece.
While there are hundreds of silver cleaning products on the market, it is more important to take time and particular care when looking after your silver jewellery. We recommend you store your fine silver jewellery in a safe, dry place to stop it from tarnishing. You will find many tips online to clean sterling silver tarnishes including using baking soda, vinegar and even tomato ketchup! Our advice is to use a reputable and trusted silver cleaning product, a soft lint-free cloth, and a tiny bit of good old-fashioned elbow grease.
At TH March, we offer specialist jewellery insurance providing cover worldwide for accidental damage, loss and theft for your previous items.