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History of Silver Jewelry

Silver unique properties have made it a wonderful tool for arts and crafts, and its intrinsic value as the precious metal reached a final and eternal recycling.

Silver has always been a valuable metal every since it was discovered long ago before 4000 BC. Its popularity has done nothing but grow steadily throughout the ages as it possesses a unique ability to be able to keep with the current fashions of the times. The uses of silver range widely from being used in film and computers to an invisible coating on thermal windows. Silver has been used in the currency of many countries and powers of the world. However, the basic most notable use of silver is its beauty and appeal as silver jewelry. However, the history of silver carries it’s own allure.

The first major silver mines were recorded around 4000 BC located in Anatolia (which is now Turkey). This was mostly the main source of silver for many of the growing cultures in that area of the world and others that would trade for silver. Around 3000 BC there are records of more intense efforts to mine silver as its value expanded worldwide. The Chinese are said to have improved on refining the silver around 2500 BC to make it even more alluring and sought after as well as easier to excavate. Throughout the passing years, mines in Greece became the main producers of silver for the rest of the world. This continued for many centuries till Spain came into power with it’s own deposits of silver that brought them power in trading. Spain became a main supplier of silver for most of the main countries in the area and used it’s silver to trade for valuable spices and other goods.

Silver began to accelerate throughout the world when North America and South America were discovered. Mexico and Peru were discovered to hold silver mines which dwarfed the silver deposits that had recently been mined to the east. Soon it was said that more than three quarters of silver in the world was mined from Peru and Mexico.

With new technology came new ways to mine silver along with new refinement processes to enhance it’s value to an even new extent with its uses as well as beauty. 
Today, Mexico and Peru still produce the most silver in the world today. Australia comes in a distant third. It’s said that 1/5 of all the silver in the world comes from Mexico alone.
With all the mining of silver throughout the world came different styles and different ways to wear silver. Silver has always been known to enhance the beauty of precious stones such as diamonds when the stones are placed in a silver ring or silver necklace setting. Many powerful men and women throughout the ages would wear magnificent items to show off their power.

Silver jewelry comes in a variety of styles and textures. The usual silver that is seen on jewelry is usually highly polished and reflects the light beautifully. However, silver also comes in a variety of different finishes such as rhodium jewelry. It gives silver the characteristic of white gold with it’s silver but slightly darker finish.

One of the main drawbacks to silver jewelry is its tendency to tarnish. This is caused from the slightest impurities in the silver which react with the air. Silver polish and other remedies have been created through to the ages to keep silver looking its best.
The most popular silver jewelry style today is sterling silver jewelry which is actually 92.5% silver. The other make up percentage is either copper, zinc, or nickel. This silver is popular because it’s more durable than pure silver yet still maintains its beauty. 

Paul Shikhvarger (G.G.) Graduate Gemologist G.I.A.

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