Silver Jewellery Makes Its Mark
Recent times have seen a very positive surge in popularity of silver jewellery. It seems that in times of economic recession such as these, more subtle attitudes are called for in jewellery, and so silver has taken the place formerly occupied by more ostentatious and outwardly showy styles of jewellery, such as gold.
Men’s silver jewellery has seen a particularly sharp increase in popularity. The reason for this is that men’s jewellery in general has traditionally been grounded in more masculine themes such as simplicity, functionality and endurance, rather than the more feminine themes of visual beauty and complexity in appearance. Silver suits these strong masculine attributes quite well, as evidenced by the classic Italian silver chains and bracelets, which feature thick links and ruggedness to the point of being nearly indestructible. If jewellery is indeed a reflection of the wearer, then it makes sense that men gravitate towards silver.
Today’s fashions are also quite rapidly repopularizing the idea of antique silver jewellery. These are usually heirloom pieces that are quite valuable, and can sometimes date back several decades – of course, their value is enhanced not only by their age, but by the quality of craftsmanship as well. Of course, it usually takes superior craftsmanship for a piece to survive decades without any visible blemishes or damage; the condition of the piece adds to its value as well.
The main problem with vintage silver pieces is that they are hard to find – they can surface in the oddest places at the oddest times – such as flea markets, pawnshops, or occasionally as undervalued bargains in jewellery stores – so finding them is oftentimes a matter of luck, and being in the right place at the right time. However, once found, a truly beautiful vintage piece will almost certainly become the centerpiece of anyone’s jewellery collection. Antique silver amulets with Latin inscriptions, bracelets with hand-carved filigree scrollwork, even signet rings – items such as these are the absolute pinnacle of jewel-making, and are reminders of the fabulous quality that was once commonplace, a lost era of jewellery.
That is not to say that today’s silver lacks anything in terms of quality or craftsmanship. Although few pieces are hand-made today (not only due to the prohibitive cost of creating a piece by hand, but also due to the fact that we have machines that simply do it better), the fact is that we have reached a technological level that has never been seen before. We can now create shapes and objects that have never before been possible – and it is mostly due to the wonderful characteristics of that famous alloy, sterling silver. Sterling silver jewellery offers more creation possibilities than most metals, due to its flexibility, resilience and strength. “Sterling silver” refers to sterling 925 silver, which is so named because it is 92.5% silver, with the other 7.5% being a different metal, usually copper or nickel.
The reason for mixing the metals like this is because silver on its own is quite soft (similar to gold jewellery), making it impractical for everyday wear. The weaving of other metals into pure silver, however, creates an alloy that is powerful and yet light – the perfect material for those rugged Italian silver chains. A keen observer will note that most fine silver jewellery today is made from sterling silver, because jewellers prefer it to any other form of silver.