The History of Sterling Silver
The fundamental characteristics of brightness, color and perhaps the extreme softness of silver were recognized in antiquity and used for the creation of decorative objects which were often related to religion - going back to old Egyptian civilization. Silver was very rare and therefore called "white gold". Silver was also called the "lunar metal" - cold and luminous like the moon's reflection on water. Because of it's richness it was used to make ornamental objects to decorate the surroundings and the person. Eventually silver was used to manufacture objects of daily use such as "table metal" par excellence (tea service, coffee service, trays and cutlery in general). It has always maintained it's inclination to be considered as a symbol of comfortable living, if not downright wealth!
For centuries craftsmen have been working silver, and over the years creative expression have provided the museums and private collections objects of great merit. Designs have varied, reflecting the individual taste and whims of a changing society. Sterling Silver has retained its position of prominence, bringing charm and elegance to homes throughout the world. We have chosen some of these classic designs to reproduce. Today, when price often takes precedence over quality, we feel our offering provides a refreshing change. Our dedication to excellence and sensitivity to silver is reminiscent of the finest in craftsmanship. The fruition of our efforts is an exquisite collection of picture frames, baby goods, candlesticks and holloware.
Silver is one of the most useful metals and has uses in decorative arts, industry and photography. It is the world’s best conductor of electricity and heat and is used to make coins and bullion, jewelry silverware, photographic film. The typical concentration of Silver used in coins is 90% with the other 10% being Copper for added strength. Dentistry mistures and electrical contacts use Silver alloys and photographic emulsions contain Silver Halides that are sensitive to light.
The Beginning (3,000 BC) Silver jewelry was found in modern day burial excavations of the ancient Sumerian city of Ur. The first major sources of mined Silver were the mines around Anatolia, which is in the area of modern day Turkey and they originate from this time. The Chaldeans were the first culture to extract Silver from other ores around 2500 BC.
The cultures of South and North America were using advanced silversmithing techniques.
Beginning around this time, the Larium mines near Athens were the leading Silver-producing mines for the next 1,000 years.
Chinese immigrants in Korea brought their silversmithing techniques to Korea. From Korea, Silver use spread to Japan, but never really caught on there.
The Romans used Silver in Coins and Household items.
1st Century AD
The Indus culture of India produced Silver drinking vessels similar to Hellenistic types.
Silverwork became very important in China during the T’ang dynasty, which lasted from 618-907 AD. Before this time, Silver was very rare in China.
Fine Silver techniques are said to have reached the Oaxaca region of Mexico during this period.
The Repoussé technique became common during China’s Sung Dynasty. Spanish mines began to be important sources of Silver around this time, as well as those in Eastern Europe (Germany and Austria-Hungary and others).
The Spanish who conquered the Mexican, Panamanian, the Andean and Costa Rican Indians in the new world during this century found that the skills of the Silversmiths were comparable to their own in their level of technique and artistry. European exploitation of New World Silver began in Bolivia and Bolivia, Peru and Mexico grew to produce nearly 85 percent of the world’s Silver between 1500 and 1800.
Native American tribes in New York (the Seneca, Iroquois, Cayuga and the Onondaga) began turning European Silver coins into jewelry at the beginning of the 17th century. India’s production of Silver vessels for royalty increased. They had mastered the Gold and Silver techniques of cold hammering, embossing, annealing, false filigree and false granulation.
Chinese use of Silver became extensive.
Silver Jewelry became more affordable because of advances in technology. Electroplating was invented. Tiffany and Company began producing Silverware in New York in the mid 1850s. The Navajo tribes of the American Southwest began working Silver (learned from Mexican artists) around the same time as well and had passed their skills onto the Zuni tribes by the 1870s. In England, Queen Victoria’s fancies dictated fashion in almost every aspect. She started the revival of ancient Celtic motifs in jewelry design that began in the middle of the century and at the end of the 19th Century, she started the aesthetic period that lasted until her death in 1901. During the Aesthetic period, fashions in Silver jewelry began to move away from the mass produced pieces that were prevalent at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Japanese royalty began wearing Shibuichi jewelry during this period. Nevada’s Virginia City enjoyed the boom days of the Comstock Lode in the 1860s and 1870s, during which the mine produced millions of dollars worth of Silver. The Mayflower Silver mine in Nevada was discovered in the 1890s.
Major discoveries of Silver in the US included Nevada, Colorado and Utah. The modern center of fine Silverwork is the city of Taxco in Mexico. William Spratling, an American, revived it there and began training Silversmiths in 1931. Along with the jewelers of the Aesthetic period, the craftsman of the Arts & Crafts Movement (1894-1923) also rebelled against the mass produced jewelry that dominated the time. Silver was their metal of choice and they combined it with uncut stones and cabochons. The quality of most of the pieces from this movement was low, because for the most part, jewelry makers from this period were untrained novices. The best jewelry of the Arts & Crafts Movement came from C.R. Ashbee, Henry Wilson, and Harold Stabler, Liberty & Co., Charles Horner's, and Murrle, Bennett & Co. Coinciding with the Arts & Crafts Movement, the Art Nouveau period (1890-1915) drew design inspiration from the new cultures encountered during the period’s colonialism. Louis Comfort Tiffany was one of the best known Art Nouveau Jewelry designers. During the Retro Period 1935-1949, Silver became less available to jewelers because of the war in Europe and as the period began to close, American jewelers began to become more popular because of the rising dominance of American pop culture. In 1963, the US stopped issuing silver certificates, which up until then had supported the paper currency and by 1968, the Silver certificates were no longer redeemable for Silver. Silver use in coins had also decreased significantly by this time.
Sterling-Sterling silver is 92.5% Silver and 7.25% Copper. Sterling Silver is popular for use in Jewelry because of its characteristics of light color, strength and malleability. Usually marked “Sterling,” “925,” “STR” or “SS.”
For those involved with crystal healing, vibrations, chakra, numerology, spiritualism, psychic, supernatural, the New Age and astrological signs, mother of pearl, gemstones, gems, minerals and birthstones, such as Silver, are often associated and assigned to months, astrological and other conventional signs, but it seems that within these associations there can be confusion as to which source is correct. In this page you will find various signs and symbols to which Silver relates.
In planetary astrology, silver represents the Earth’s moon. The moon symbolizes the feminine nature of energy, which is more passive and less assertive.
In Vedic astrology, silver is represented by Venus and is the metal for Taurus and Libra birthsigns.
In Western astrology associates Silver with Cancer and Aquarius.
Silver gifts are symbolic of the 25th wedding anniversary.
Alternative Physical Healing
New Age healers have taken Silver’s conductive abilities and translated that into the belief that it can conduct the body’s energy. They believe it can remove negative energy from the body and channel the positive energy of other minerals into the patient. The minerals they use with Silver include Turquoise, Agate, Jet, Moonstone and Lodestone or cooler-colored gems. Lodestone set in silver is said to aid in eyesight.
In general, Silver is believed to benefit circulation, help lungs and throat, and detoxify the blood, to aid in the treatment of degenerative brain diseases, balancing of hormones and chemicals and improvement of nerve impulse transmission. They also use it for treating hepatitis and detoxifying the body.
Healers recommend Silver for hormonal and/or chemical imbalances and improving the transmission of nerve impulses, all of which can affect the patient’s mental state. They also ascribe powers for improving communications, reducing conflicts and increasing popularity, transforming energies and negativity and cleansing/balancing emotions.
Third-Eye or Brow Chakra.
Most Silver can be cleaned with warm soapy water. However, never use a cleaner that contains Ammonia, which will turn Silver black. Should this occur, Vinegar will reverse the effects of Ammonia. There are also commercial cleaners available but should be used with caution; always read the label. Do not put Silver in your dishwasher.