Across the ages, silver has been considered a valuable metal with a multitude of uses; Silver puts the lustre in jewelry, helps our cell phones and MP3 players work better, and even makes hospitals safer. What makes silver more valuable to us than other minerals? Its beauty is one thing. This attractive and reflective metal has fascinated men and women for a long time. The second is its rarity - and things that are both beautiful and rare tend to be worth a lot. And lastly are its properties - it’s malleable, meaning it’s easy to shape, and is relatively durable. Represented on the Periodic Table of the Elements by the symbol Ag (argentum in Latin, which means off-white). Ancient civilizations associated silver with the moon because of it’s greyish-white colour, which contrasts with gold and its correlation to the sun.
Why we use Sterling Silver
At Pukka Berlin
all our silver jewelry is made with a sterling silver alloy. This gives our jewellery a rich yet lasting feel. Furthermore, all our pieces are nano-coated for longer durability and slow oxidation. All our plated pieces are vermeil gold plated with a minimum thickness of 3 microns for a rich, luxurious feel, and a long lasting piece. We do not scoop out our products as we believe silver products should feel as rich and last as gold products.
Sterling .925 Silver
Here is a run-down of what .925 sterling silver is:
- An affordable, precious metal
- Long lasting, durable with even water exposure
- Capable of staying shiny with regular wear, which means polishing can be avoided
- Simple to re-shine at home
- Safe in terms of allergies
- Silver’s investment value has gone up in the past 10 years. Value of silver jewelry is going up compared to base metals.
- Brass and copper tarnishes fast compared to silver
- You get a sense of luxury when you opt for silver
Sterling silver is the quality standard for silver in the United States, Europe, and most world markets. It's alloy make up is 92.5% silver, and the remaining 7.5% is usually copper. So, what is that other 7.5%? Why isn't it solid silver, wouldn’t that be better?
Technically, “solid” silver is .925 sterling silver. If it was actually 100% silver, it wouldn't be strong enough to create jewelry. It would be too soft and it would tarnish faster. So, 92.5% silver is the most “solid” we're gonna get. The other 7.5% is an amalgam of other metals to strength the silver. But then, why not just silver plated? Why not gold?
Gold is an expensive option. Other options are great, too, like solid copper and solid brass. Even more affordable and also long-lasting, BUT they’re generally not as precious as silver. – Silver has high value and is appreciated while brass and copper are base metals. Sterling silver's natural appearance is the white silver colour we are most familiar with and what we see. All kinds of silver do naturally tarnish due to silver oxidising with the natural oxygen in the air. However, we have found ways to delay and slow this process down through multiple reasons. They are easy to clean and maintain with cleaners and polishing products. One way we specifically delay this tarnishing is that all our silver pieces are coated with a special nano coating that acts as a shield and further prevents tarnishing. For the colours rose and yellow we use vermeil plating on our silver, more below.
So, in terms of affordability and long-lastingness, sterling silver is your best friend. For rings especially, since they often receive the most wear-and-tear. People who are allergic to metals such as nickel and or brass can wear sterling silver jewelry without much worry and we at Pukka Berlin make sure it’s a nickel free alloy. This is especially important for accessories like earrings - you can wear them without fear that a piercing will get infected. The metal addition to sterling silver is usually copper, which is much less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Vermeil jewelry is one of the hottest trends right now as it strikes the perfect balance between quality and value. Many people tend to confuse vermeil with gold plating, and even though they do share a few aspects, there is a big difference in quality, durability, and desirability.
At Pukka we chose to plate only with vermeil. Here are the reasons why.
Typically, vermeil is a type of gold-finished material that is composed of a thick layer of gold over solid sterling silver. (Instead of brass or copper). At Pukka we do not use any base metals, we only use silver and gold. The thickness of the gold portion is what really sets vermeil jewelry apart from simple gold plated pieces. The thickness of the gold portion must be a hefty 2.5 microns, well above the gold-plating standard. And we did not just want to do the minimum, so we do 3.0 microns and higher. Hence, if you want to build a collection of high-quality jewelry without the pure gold price tag, gold vermeil is a fantastic option.
Another advantage of Vermeil is that it usually looks like gold to the naked eye, especially in 18k gold. Thus, it's a great alternative for those who want a natural gold look and feel. You can also shine it up to give it a beautiful gloss, or leave it to tarnish for a vintage look. Thereby, our jewelry comes with an anti tarnish plating which makes your jewelry last longer.
Therefore If you’re looking for the highest-quality demi-fine jewelry, a vermeil collection in 18k gold is a good choice.
History of Silver
Silver and its tryst with Jewelry
Our silver story starts somewhere in the end of the 4th millennium BC when clever inhabitants of modern-day Turkey figured out they could extract silver from lead through cupellation. Owing to its properties silver started being used in multitude of ways, from more practical uses like currency, to more artistic uses such as jewelry, not only in Turkey but around the world.
One such place was the The Mesopotamian silversmith’s shop would have resembled that of the goldsmith or, as is often the case these days, would have been the very same shop. Although silver is slightly less ductile than gold and requires more frequent annealing during the manufacturing process it can still be cast, hammered into extremely thin sheets, engraved, embossed, used in repoussé work and decorated with filigree and granulation. Vessels, statuettes, and jewellery have been found which indicate that silver with a high purity was used, yielding quite soft objects.
Silver is relatively inexpensive today when you compare it to other precious metals like gold or platinum. This could lure one into believing that it isn’t an important metal. That is a false assumption! At times throughout history silver was valued more highly than gold. When you examine the quantities of silver used in jewellery, its use outweighs all other precious metals by a large factor.
Silver Alloys Through the Ages
Silver used to make jewellery is usually an alloy - which means it's a mixture of two or more elements from the periodic table. Manufacturers use a variety of recipes when producing various forms of silver.
Fine silver is .999 percent silver and the remaining .001 percent is a combination of copper, iron and other trace elements. It is extremely soft and not generally suitable for jewellery. Its main use today is in fine silver coins to be used as a trading commodity. Britannia Silver was .958 percent silver and used for flatware and plate between 1697 and 1720. However, it was found to be to unsuitable due to its softness, as it tended to deform under its own weight.
Sterling silver is .925 percent silver and .075 percent copper. It is more durable and workable than fine silver. In Britain, sterling silver is better known as 'Standard Silver'. This term refers to the fact that British coins from 1158 to the 1920s were .925 silver. Today British coins no longer contain .925 silver.
We hope you enjoyed our little silver education. Please let us know if you have any questions.