Silver is a soft, white and lustrous metal and it is these qualities that has made it so popular in the making of fine jewellery for such a long time. Like gold, silver is a very ductile metal and it is this that allows for some of the intricate and modern designs that can be seen in many of our pieces. Silver is prone to some amount of tarnishing as it reacts with the atmosphere. This can be prevented by keeping silver in airtight containers when not being worn and the colour and shine can be easily recovered using a polishing cloth or cleaner.
The chemical symbol for silver, Ag has its roots in the Latin word for silver ‘Argentum’ and the Romans themselves valued silver for their currency as well as for jewellery. In fact the use of silver can be traced back to the Ancient Egyptians and even as far back as 3000B.C.
As well as jewellery, silver is used to make tableware, coins and in the photography industry. As silver is the best conductor of any known metal it is used in a lot of electrical connections such as high end hi-fi equipment. Historically silver was a common form of disinfectant and in the middle ages food and drink was often stored in silver lined containers to keep fresh.
Silver is mined in a wide range of countries but since the 16th century Peru and Mexico have been the largest producers with China, Australia and Chile being more recent big scale producers.
The hallmark for silver in the U.K is often associated with the quality mark known as ‘Sterling’ and the number 925 referring to the purity of 92.5% silver, with the rest of the metal being made of copper or other similar metals.