Silver Jewelery (also spelled silver jewellry) has been known by mankind since Pre-History. Silver Jewelry can be made for such personal decorations as a man's or woman's necklace, ring or bracelet.
The word jewelery is derived from the word jewel, which comes from the old French word "jouel" in the 13th century. It has also been suggested that the word is derived from "Jew", as the Jews were important jewelry producers and traders of that time. Silver Jewelery is one of the oldest forms of body adornment.
Silver jewelery was created for practical uses such as wealth, storage and pinning clothes together, in recent times it has been used almost exclusively for decoration.
In Egypt, gold was considered to be a perfect metal, and gave it the symbol of a circle. Since silver was the closest to gold in perfection, it was given the symbol of a semi-circle. Later this semi-circle led to a growing moon symbol, probably due to the likeness between the shining metal and the moon glow.
The main silver mineral is the argentite (Ag2S), which usually occurs associated to other sulfides as copper or lead sulfide. Other silver minerals are cerargirite (AgCl), proustite (3Ag2S.Ag2S3), pirargirite (3Ag2S.Sb2S3), stefanite (5Ag2S.Sb2S3) and native silver. The silver occurs in most of the lead and copper ores, and associated to cobalt and gold arsenide. Most of the produced silver is a by-product of the extraction process of these metals. However there are some mines specially devoted to the extraction of this element. The largest world producers of silver and silver jewelry are the USA, Canada, Mexico, Israel, Bolivia, the CIS, Australia and Germany.
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Silver is a non-toxic element. However, most of its salts are poisonous due to the presence of its anions. These compounds are absorbed by the body and remain in the blood stream until they are deposited in the mucous membranes, forming a greyish film. However, there are some silver compounds, like the nitrate, with an antiseptic effect.
Solutions of silver nitrate are used in treating irritations of mucous membranes in the mouth and throat. Some proteins that contain silver are powerful anti-irritating agents of the membranes of the eyes, heard, nose and throat. Much of silver jewelry and accessories are made of beautiful sterling silver.
Sterling silver has become the standard for beautiful high-quality silver jewelry. It's over 90 percent pure silver, mixed with alloys to add strength and durability. And it won't wear down, as silver plating can. Pure silver, also called fine silver, is relatively soft, very malleable, and easily damaged so it is commonly combined with other metals to produce a more durable product. The most popular of these alloys is sterling silver, which consists of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper.
Although any metal can make up the 7.5 percent non-silver portion of sterling, centuries of experimentation have shown copper to be its best companion, improving the metal's hardness and durability without affecting its beautiful color.
The small amount of copper added to sterling has very little effect on the metal's value. Instead, the price of the silver item is affected by the labor involved in making the item, the skill of the craftsperson, and the intricacy of the design. Most high quality silver items are stamped with a "fineness" or "quality" mark. This mark designates the precious metal content of the jewelry, and under federal law, must be accompanied by a maker's mark or registered trademark. Because pure silver is so soft, it should only be used when malleability is required, such as in handcrafted jewelry featuring weaving and other intricate designs.
Sterling silver is most often used for jewelry and household accessories because of its combination of beauty and durability. With proper care, your fine quality silver will last a lifetime. To minimize scratches and other damage, store your silver jewelry either in a cloth pouch or in a separate compartment in your jewelry box. Avoid exposing your silver to household chemicals when cleaning with bleach or ammonia, or when swimming in chlorinated water, as these chemicals can damage silver.
Care and handling of silver jewelry should be taken to prevent silver tarnish build-up, a dulling that occurs when silver reacts with sulfur or hydrogen sulfide in the air. To clean silver jewelry, it is recommended to use polishes formulated specifically to remove tarnish. One can find fine silver polishes, solutions, or cloths appropriate to remove tarnish at most hardware stores or specialty craft stores. Tarnish is most easily removed when it first becomes visible. Although wearing silver jewelry often is the best way to prevent tarnish from building up, regular cleanings of silver items will prevent tarnish and keep your silver bright and sparkling.
The report finds that from 1996 to 2005, global silver jewelry output increased 17 percent to 171.8 million ounces. Helping to spur the category's growth was Chinese silver fabrication, which skyrocketed from 2.2 million ounces in 1996 to 17.4 million ounces in 2005.Overall, global jewelry trade increased 86 percent from 2000 to 2005, creating a $2.6 billion market, according to the report.London-based precious-metal consultant GFMS Ltd. produced the report for the Silver Institute. This represents the first time the company has produced separate data on silver's use in jewelry and silverware.
The United States recently joined Germany, India, Italy and Mexico as the top silver jewelry-consuming countries, fueling an increase in production over the last decade, according to the new Global Jewelry Report from the Silver Institute.