Sterling silver has a longer and more interesting history that you might have imagined. The commonality of sterling silver in jewelry design means that people may subconsciously gloss over word “sterling,” but the word speaks to a kind of mixture that’s been carefully adjusted over centuries to make an ideal alloy for jewelry design. Here at BARONS Jewelers, we showcase some of the most remarkable collections of sterling silver fashion rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets on the market, which reflects our passion for the material.
WHAT IS STERLING SILVER?
On its own, silver is element 47 on the periodic table. As part of the group 11 metals, it’s a molecular cousin to gold and copper, and it was discovered in prehistory thanks to its shimmering color and tendency to exist freely in nature. Ancient jewelry and coins took advantage of silver’s ductility and softness to create wild designs and unique shapes that aren’t possible with metals like steel.
However, one longtime problem of designing jewelry and coins with elemental silver came from its same strengths. Its softness made silver easy to dent, deform, and break. In 12th century Germany, a formula for alloying silver came into effect that we call sterling silver. The formula evolved until your favorite sterling silver bracelet would be distinguished by 92.5% pure silver mixed with 7.5% alloying metal.
THE END RESULT
When you pick up a Belle Étoile bracelet, as an example, you’ll notice that underneath its graceful enamel, the color of the metal is similar to the white of a full moon. While the brilliant greyish-white of silver may be more notable in elemental silver, the distinction between it and its sterling alloy is less pronounced than the difference between 24k yellow gold and its 14k alloy.
If you’re looking for a piece of jewelry that has the beauty of silver while also containing a level of added durability, sterling silver is an ideal option. It’s also far more affordable than jewelry made with elemental silver. There are two caveats for the jewelry aficionado looking for sterling silver earrings or other pieces. First, because of the addition of some base metals, sterling silver tarnishes faster than its elemental counterpart. This isn’t a dilemma! A jeweler who offers services can easily clean the tarnish off the surface of the piece with little fuss.
Second, if you have a metal allergy, it can be difficult to choose sterling silver without knowing the 7.5% non-silver metals alloyed in. Always ask your jeweler about the provenance of the pieces offered in their collections!
If you’d like to learn more about sterling silver, particularly the Philip Gavriel and Tacori pieces we offer at BARONS Jewelers, don’t hesitate to contact us! Don’t forget that if you have a passion for 925 sterling or 999 silver, and you’d like having a specialty bridal or fashion piece made, we can help with custom design! Get in touch with our Dublin, California showroom today at (925) 304 4220!