Silver fact file
PopularityWe are finding silver jewellery to be very popular recently, mainly because people prefer the cool sophistication of a white metal, whilst not breaking the bank. Modern jewellery designs can be created in stunning styles at a much lower cost than gold or platinum, meaning that the wearer can be bolder in choice as there are fewer restrictions. Almost anything that can be made from gold can also be made from silver, meaning jewellery designers can experiment freely with innovative shapes and forms.
PropertiesSilver is the most reflective of all precious metals giving it a brilliant shine when polished. With a density of 10.49 grams per cubic centimeter, it is the lightest of the precious metals and it is also resistant to the corrosive effects of moisture and oxygen. It is therefore used to make affordable, stylish jewellery and large silverwares such as photograph frames, tableware and cutlery, all available at F.Hinds.
If left out in the air for any length of time, silver will react with sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere resulting in a tarnish - firstly yellow, then brown streaks or patches and finally turning black. Fortunately this does not damage the silver, but it does look unattractive. This tarnish is easily, but gently, removed with a silver cleaning foam and/or cloth. To avoid tarnish, some pieces can be are treated with a lacquer or with a rhodium or silicone plating.
UsesSilver is also used in the photographic developing process, in fabricating printed electrical circuits and as a vapour-deposited coating for electronic conductors; it is also alloyed with such elements as nickel or palladium for use in electrical contacts.
Because of its comparative scarcity, brilliant white colour, malleability and resistance to atmospheric oxidation, silver has long been used in the manufacture of coins, ornaments and jewellery. It is also said to have an association with the moon.
Sterling silver used for jewellery contains 92.5 percent of silver and 7.5 percent of other metals, often copper, and so is said to have a fineness of 925 - traditionally identified by the hallmark of a lion passant (turned to the left). Coin silver is an alloy of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. There is another silver standard, known as Britannia, hallmarked with a lady Britannia holding the traditional trident and flag, but this type is very rarely used for silver jewellery.
Silver ornaments and decorations have been found in royal tombs dating back as far as 4,000 BC. The earliest known workings of a significant size were those of the pre-Hittites of Cappadocia in eastern Anatolia (Turkey). It is probable that both gold and silver were used as money by 800 BC in all countries between the Indus and the Nile. Silver lodes for mining have been found in Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Russia, Greece, Spain, Australia, Canada and Nevada in America.