Silver is a precious metal with a chemical element classification is "AG". It is a grey precious metal. Its aesthetic appeal is widely known however few realise that it is the most conductive of all metals for electricity. Silver is most commonly found and mined alongside Copper, lead and Zinc. In chemistry It sits in Period 5, between Copper and Gold, hence why it is a good alloy with these metals.
The silver jewellery conference Limerick 2006.
The malleability of silver makes it a versatile semi-precious metal to work with. Many fine items of silver jewellery can be hand crafted to immense detail. An illustration of this property is displayed by the incredible detail of this Cambodian silver bowl which chronicles the Ramayana (an epic of Hindu literature). The bowl is on display in our Plymouth shop. The bowl shows that the uses of silver need not be confined to jewellery.
In order to add a little strength and rigidity, copper is added to pure silver to produce sterling silver which is the key ingredient of our jewellery. The proportion of silver to copper is 92.5% to 7.5% copper. Some items, particularly the gemstone set rings are coated with a layer of rhodium which gives the silver an extra shine reducing the amount of polishing. There are no other metals involved except for very small amounts of iron solder used for welding joints on the larger pieces. No zinc, nickel or other allergy sensitive metals are used.
One of the problems in manufacturing silver jewellery is fire scale or as it sometimes known fire stain. This is a red stain that you can see once copper is mixed with the silver. Coppers melting point is 100C above Silver, so once the temperature during soldering etc is close to silver's melting point the oxygen reacts with the copper to form cuprous oxide and then cupric oxide. Another problem is Porosity in which tiny air bubbles are trapped in the silver as it cools down. To prevent these issues, the temperature is controlled to precise degrees and maintained with a consistency that prevents the formation of air bubbles or fire stain.
The obvious method of identifying an item of jewellery or ornament is by its markings, stamp or hallmark. The silver bowl is marked by its maker which often also indicates the purity of the metal used as well as its age. To enable the purity of to be determined there are a range of various silver tests.
The costume jewellery is made from real gemstones. It can be worn as a stand-alone feature or with any item from our range of silver jewellery.
One of the unique qualities of silver is how it can be used with all types of seasonal jewellery making it an extremely versatile metal for jewellers to work with.
Visit our shops in Plymouth, UK to see our collection of jewellery. For detailed information on how to look after silver jewellery see our section on silver-care.
Some say that in English nothing rhymes with the word silver however there are a few such as "chilver" which is a noun meaning ewe lamb.
The worlds largest producers of silver are Mexico and Peru although large mines are also found in Poland and Australia. Generally silver is ethically mines however be wary of anything described as fairtrade jewellery as often is anything but ethically mined.